Review: The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse by Lauren Wilson

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TheArtofEatingThroughtheZombieApocalypse_FrontCoverPart cookbook, part survival guide, The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse is full of puns, good advice, recipes, instructions on how to live in the wild, bizarre acronyms, zombie facts and speculation, and more puns.

Lauren Wilson organizes the book by survival scenarios: Is the survivor “Bugging in” (staying home behind a barricade) or “Bugging Out” (Heading out into the wild in hopes of escaping the zombie hoards)? Is this just after the zombie-apocalypse (or zpoc) has begun or later on? Recipes like “No Knead to Panic Bread” can be made under most circumstances; “Overnight of the Living Dead French Toast,” on the other hand, requires a refrigerator that is either still on or has only just gone off. Later recipes, like “The Venison Heart of the Matter” are intended for the survivor who has turned to wilderness living while “Hamburger Help Me” assumes access to MRE’s. The titles themselves make for delicious reading, and the recipes are quite accessible to the pre-apocalypse cook who wishes to test them out in a standard kitchen or who wants to dig one of those nifty mud ovens in the backyard and try his or her hand at temperature-estimating as the book suggests.

In addition to recipes, the book contains practical survival advice on topics such as what to have on hand for immediate use, how to set up a good water purification system, and guides to edible plants and insects. Each section also mentions additional books the survivor might turn to for additional information on any given topic. On top of this, Wilson speculates on the kinds and habits of zombies, on whether or not the survivor will have to deal with animal-hunting zombies, or zombie animals, and other information useful for life during the zpoc. And did I mention the puns? There are puns.

Kristian Bauthus illustrates several of the “how to” segments, showing what the cross-section of an earth oven looks like, for example, or providing images of the edible plants and animals Wilson discuses. His work also makes sure no one ever forgets what sort of book they are reading. There are tiny, shriveled hands reaching in at the corner of each page, and scenes of zombie-inspired mayhem at the beginning of each chapter.

The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook & Culinary Survival Guide comes out October 28–just in time for you to do some Halloween preparation. Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Lauren Wilson.

Want a preview? Try the “No Knead to Panic Bread” below! The recipe is included, complete with author commentary, courtesy of BenBella Books, Inc. It’s quite tasty, though I must admit that I made it in my standard oven, not having mustered up enough of the survivor’s mentality to dig up any portion of my beloved garden to experiment with mud ovens and the like.

Eating Out of Your Cupboard

Alas, it’s been days since the initial outbreak started, and those damn zombies are still picking at what’s left of the living hors d’oeuvre platter beyond the four walls of your safe and well-fortified domicile. Plus, the power has been out for a while now—all the fresh food is long gone save for some onion, garlic, and a couple of sad potatoes.

Welcome to carb country. Unless you have a locavore’s personal stash of preserved or canned summer bounty, chances are you’re going to be surviving on a lot of starchy fare until it’s safe to go outside again.

As you will see in the following pages, there is quite a lot that can be done with the common North American pantry staples like flour, dried pastas, rice, canned proteins, beans, vegetables, and fruits. These recipes are simple and easy to prepare (some of them ludicrously so), and focus on very simple ingredients that most people keep kicking around in the cupboard—meaning there is lots of room to add or amend based on your own pantry stash.

No-Knead to Panic Bread

1 x 1 ½ -lb. loaf, or enough for 2–3 Hungry Survivors

It’s another day of being completely consumed by the rise of the undead, so why not soothe your troubled soul with the rise of a dead easy and absolutely delicious bread?

Bless Jim Lahey’s hopefully-still-living soul for developing this recipe. You may know Lahey, owner of New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery, for the no-knead bread revolution he kicked off via food journalist and author Mark Bittman in the early aughts— it took the home-cooking scene by storm and spread almost as quickly as an undead plague. His approach makes use of a long rising time and a very wet dough where gluten molecules are mobile and free to align themselves naturally (rather than relying on kneading). Translation: it takes a while, but requires no bread-making skill or specialized knowledge and virtually zero work.

The versatility of bread goes without saying. It makes a mean companion to Mental Fruit Lentil Soup (page 86), but can be schmeared, topped, dipped, or sandwichized in any number of ways—raid your cupboard and experiment.

This recipe is adapted from “No-Knead Bread” in Jim Lahey’s My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, an excellent book to have on hand for a variety of zpoc-friendly no-knead breads.

Requires:

1 small bowl

1 large mixing bowl

1 mixing spoon

Plastic wrap

2 clean cotton kitchen towels or other clean breathable cloths

1 large, heavy pot or other oven-proof vessel, with lid

 

Heat Source:

Indirect, Ammo Can Oven or other Oven Hack (page 44)

Time:

5 minutes prep

14–20 hours mostly unattended rising time

45 minutes baking time

30 minutes cooling time

 

Ingredients:

¼ tsp. active dry yeast

1 ¾ c. plus 2 tbsp. warm water

Pinch of sugar

3 c. all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

1 ¼ tsp. salt

Method:

  1. Proof the yeast by mixing it with 2 tablespoons of warm water (not hot!) and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl—it is ready to use when the top is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add water and any wet flavorings (like honey) and mix until well combined. Your dough will be wet and sticky.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap if available (you can write the time down on the plastic with a marker), and one of the kitchen towels and pop it in a now nearly useless microwave or other dark spot to rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18 hours. The dough is ready for the next stage when the surface is bubbly.
  4. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour and fold your dough out onto it. If using any add-ins (see Variations), sprinkle them on top of the dough now. Sprinkle the dough with a small amount of flour, then fold it over on itself two times. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Cover a kitchen towel with a generous amount of flour. Dust your hands with flour, and sprinkle just enough flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to you, then shape it quickly into a ball. An imperfect zombies-are-breaking-down-my-defenses ball is just fine.
  6. Place your ball seam side down onto the prepared cloth and generously dust the top with more flour. Cover the ball with a second towel and let rest for 2 hours.
  7. Half an hour before the 2-hour mark of the second rise, set up your Ammo Can Oven for 450°F (see Judging Temperature, page 47), then place the oven-proof dish with the lid inside to preheat.
  8. After the two-hour rise is complete, carefully remove the hot pot or other vessel from the Ammo Can Oven and, after removing the lid, plop your ball of dough into it, seam side up.
  9. Bake, with the lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid carefully, then bake another 15–30 minutes until nicely browned. Let cool for about 30 minutes before eating.

Variations:

  • 2 tbsp. honey (added at beginning with water), 1 tbsp. of fennel seeds, ½ c. of raisins, and cornmeal for dusting
  • 1 small potato (peeled, diced, sautéed until browned), ½ small onion (minced and sautéed until soft), and ½ tsp. dried dill
  • ½ c. olives, preferably jarred but canned work too
  • 1 medium apple (peeled and diced), 1 tsp. cinnamon combined with 1 tbsp. sugar

 

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The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse by Lauren Wilson
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