BDS Book Festival: Backyard Cuisine

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
BDS Book Festival: Backyard Cuisine

Today I share the next author interview and book giveaway in the latest Backdoor Survival Book Festival. Steve Fonnesbeck, the author of Backyard Cuisine: Bringing Foraged Food to Your Table, is joining us today for an interview and is also providing one of reader with a free copy of his book.

Before we start, I need to tell you this: foraging and learning to deal with foraged food is important. In one of the most dreaded of SHTF scenarios, there will be insufficient food to feed the masses, let alone our own families.

Backyard Cuisine BDS

The intent of little book is to broaden your view of what you can eat and more important, how you can cook it. Although not a book on foraging, per se, you will find that it opens your mind to some food sources in your own back yard that you may not have considered previously. Whether due to lack of knowledge or lack of need, it is never too late to learn.

Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out the details of this week’s giveaway below.

An Interview with Steve Fonnesbesk

Tell me about your book, Backyard Cuisine. What is it about?

I classify it as a cookbook with recipes designed to make foraged food more palatable and tips on foraging along with supplementing the grocery budget. I did not write it for the well-informed folks who undoubtedly know most or all of what I put into this book. Rather, it is intended for those who are just starting to be concerned with the economy and possible consequences.

Like many in this country I have been contemplating the worst scenarios to come and am constantly thinking, doing, and researching on preparations. With all this worry and preparations comes frustration with so many people who seem to be unaware of reality. I have tried to encourage my neighbors to establish gardens now in case food costs become a problem for them and have had very little success.

So writing Backyard Cuisine is my contribution to possibly help some people by getting their minds working on addressing how to solve the need for sustained food supplies.

What type of research did you have to do while writing Backyard Cuisine?

The books and internet sites referenced in Backyard Cuisine have been a portion of my resource material for several years now although I have always been keenly interested in exotic or unusual foods and in self-reliance.

I have casually practiced foraging and cooking for many years and feel confident that my family and I will not starve if we are ever in a survival situation given we are not in a barren environment.

How long did it take to write?

From start to the day I published it was around three months. I have never written anything for publication until I found out about self-publishing and was anxious to complete this project. As with anything new, I would like perfection and intend to expound upon this book and to become more proficient in the whole publishing process.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?

To start viewing their surroundings in the smallest detail, researching, and becoming ever more knowledgeable of what all can be utilized to feed themselves and others if necessary.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I am a retired Navy Chief who believes in the founding principles of our country and its exceptional place in the world. I have many years of education, including post-graduate work, but with more recent self-taught learning I’ve realize much of that formal education was a waste or worse…misleading!

I have been active in the Tea Party movement since its occurrence. My hope for the future is that people in this country will reconnect to personal responsibility and basic morals someday.

Do you have plans for another book?

Yes. Along with a second edition to Backyard Cuisine, I am working on a “how-to/home remedies” manual that covers making or substituting for common household commodities other than food such as cement, adhesives and things the post-depression generation knew and practiced.

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

Whether it’s my book or something similar about self-reliance, please pass it on to family, friends and neighbors who need to become aware of this topic before they face a desperate situation with little or no knowledge on what to do.

I would encourage everyone to collect and maintain a set of “how to” books related to self-sufficiency which they or others can turn to in an emergency for possible solutions when unanticipated problems happen or if a should disaster occur. I emphasize books for their reference library since technology is phenomenal until it doesn’t work. Books will be there for you if or when the power is out or electronic devices have ceased to function.

The Book Giveaway

A copy of Backyard Cuisine: Bringing Foraged Food to Your Table has been reserved for one lucky reader. Here is this week’s question:

What is your best outdoor cooking tip?

To enter the giveaway, you need to answer this question by responding in the comments area at the end of this article. The deadline is 6:00 AM Pacific next Thursday and the winner will be selected at random using tools on the website. Also note that the winner will be announced in the Sunday Survival Buzz and he or she will have 72 hours to claim the winning book.

Note: If you are reading this article in your email client, you must go to the Backdoor Survival website to enter this giveaway in the comments area at the bottom of the article.

summer book festival 2013_04

The Final Word

Backyard Cuisine is not a large book and some may even consider it a pamphlet. That said, it is the best book of its type that I have seen. It includes tips, recommendations, illustrations and pictures of commonly foraged ingredients – nothing obscure and nothing really scary. The recipes are fun to read in a “snake and bake” type of way. I love this book and will be using it myself to practice cooking with foraged items that are common where I live: acorns, dandelion and yes, if I can get up the nerve, snake.

I hope you will enter the giveaway to win your own copy of this fabulous new book!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon. You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Pinterest.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight Item: Backyard Cuisine: Bringing Foraged Food to Your Table

This is more than just a collection of recipes, it is a guide to becoming aware, or more so, of the tremendous and bountiful resources just beyond the door and how to exploit them for your nutritional needs. With over 70 recipes from main meals to making substitute milk this book has a lot of tips, recommendations, illustrations and pictures to begin, or further yourself in, being more self-sufficient.

References have been included in this book providing a wealth of information on foraging, cooking and numerous other useful knowledge for dealing with a basic survival need…eating!

Author: Steve Fonnesbeck

Bargain Bin: Today is all about books. Listed below are all of the books in the current Backdoor Survival Summer Reading List. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and a bit of something for everyone.owl reading book


Backyard Cuisine: Bringing Foraged Food to Your Table
Home Remedies
Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency
Make It Last: Prolonging + Preserving the Things We Love
Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills
The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms: Helpful Tips for Mushrooming in the Field
Good Clean Food
The Amazing 2000-Hour Flashlight
Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living
The People’s Apocalypse
Go Green, Spend Less, Live Better


Going Home: A Novel of Survival (The Survivalist Series)
Surviving Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series)
Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse
The Border Marches
Rivers: A Novel
After the Blackout
The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel (The New World Series)
The Long Road: A Postapocalyptic Novel (The New World Series)
3 Prepper Romances: Escape To My Arms, plus 2 other e-books (your choice)
Prepper Pete Prepares: An Introduction to Prepping for Kids


The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
Escaping Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series)

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50 Responses to “BDS Book Festival: Backyard Cuisine”

  1. Practice, practice, practice!! It is difficult to learn these skills. Ladies…it’s nothin’ like the kitchen!

  2. I second Jody, and that’s exactly why it’s taking me some time to actually try cooking outdoors. I did though just yesterday read about a new kind of fire starter, if that counts as a tip. If you have no matches or lighter, you can do this to start the fire.

    You can use a 9 volt battery and steel wool as a fire starter! Apparently, just touching both terminals to the steel wool will start sparks, then you use another kindling to get it going. I just saw a video on it and it was amazing. It was the woman from the survival show “Man, Woman, Wild”.

    Thanks for the blog and opportunity to win!


  3. Best outdoor cooking tip… use untreated charcoal, and for lighting use a metal coffee can with the bottom cut out of it. Perch can on ash grill in bottom of barbecue, light from the bottom with paper taper (may take awhile to catch). Wait for draft to get flame going all through your coffee can “flue,” then use tongs or a long-handled pipe wrench to lift the can out of the barbecue, letting the well-lit coals spill out from the bottom. No lighter fluid means no leftover petroleums taste on your food!

  4. Just two words. Rocket Stove! You can buy them premade or make your own. They use less fuel, get hotter and cook better than a lot of the stoves on the market. They’re easy to DIY which also makes them more economical.

  5. If you are a novice like me (and this tip is to myself!), think the whole process through and have every thing ready from start to finish. Including a way to keep the cats from coming up to steal the meat! For my last use of our rocket stove, I did not have enough biofuel to keep the iron skillet consistently hot. By the time I left for just a few moments to get more sticks from the other side of the deck, my fire was dying down and I had to struggle to get it back up – which would be very disheartening in a shtf situation.

  6. 1. Thanks for serving.Chief, I bought some crappy land & just never had the push to see what’s on it I could eat,—I would love to have a copy of your book,to help me. there are so many things “we” can do to survive if necessary.we need to learn something Daily if we can. good luck with your books. No library any where close to me-internet is my source of information,book store 45 miles away.
    take care.

  7. when cooking outdoors use the driest wood you can find. green wood puts off more smoke. and never use treated rood to cook with.

  8. For those of you that are new to cooking on a camp fire, go at it with the Boy Scout frame of mind. How every it comes out, say “that’s how I like it”, and when you spill some of it in the fire, say “well, I wasn’t very hungry, anyway”. Newbies will make these mistakes, but not to worry. Practice makes perfect…

  9. I love new cookbooks and new techniques. Always find something new and challenging to try or to improve. Makes for a fun meal and gets my head spinning..

  10. My best tip for outdoor cooking tip is to find yourself a nice cast iron dutch oven. It can be used in many different types of cooking.

  11. My tip is to try several different ways ie rocket stove, campfire etc. and different cooking vessals dutch oven, skillet and see which combination comes more natural or comfortable to You. Then practice.

  12. Two words… Tin Foil. And lots of it. it has so many uses, from warping fish in it for baking on a bed of coals, or simply using it to make a lid for a pot to boil water quicker, tin foil is always by my side. You can use it to make an insulated hot pad holder for a fry pan handle, or line the inside of your dutch oven with it so when you bake a chocolate cake around the camp fire, clean up is as easy as pulling out the “Jiffy Pop Cake” and wiping out the dutch oven with a clean cloth. Speaking of clean up… used tin foil crumpled up makes a wonderful scrubbing pad for baked on crud. Remember to pack a roll of tin foil in your B-O-B. I flatten out a whole roll and slide it down the side seam of my pack. Peace.

  13. I highly recommend having a multi-purpose, 3-in-1, shovel, axe, and saw available, along with a striker. Both are inexpensive, but will save you when you’re in a place that you you don’t have a rocket stove, or the like. You can use the shovel to dig a pit, being sure to make a clearing around the pit to keep from lighting everything else on fire. Once the pit is dug, use the axe and/or saw to get some wood and kindling together, making sure that your wood is dry. Once you have your wood and kindling together, use dry grass and/or leaves to get the fire started by using the striker the produce the spark for the flame.

  14. I don’t have any tips, the only thing I’ve cooked outside is roasting hotdogs on a stick. Well, maybe I could add that poking a paperplate onto the handle end, helps keep little hands from getting too hot from the fire? 🙂 I also know I will regret always letting hubby build the fire; if something happens to him, I’m left to do the job, so I think everyone should have a turn at building the fire just so you know you could if you had to….

  15. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve been saving the small branches my Sycamore tree has been ‘gifting’ me all year! I’m thinking break the branches into bundles that will fit the fire pit, wrap them in twine and dip the ends into candle wax. May or may not make a nice fire starter! I’ll let you know! LOL!

  16. My father taught me that when cooking outside, it’s better to move the heat to the outside, leaving an open space in the middle for your pot or pan. The indirect heat may take a bit longer, but your food doesn’t get all burnt up on the bottom because of direct heat. He cooks this way in his BBQ, as well, turning it into more of an oven.

  17. Be sure you know what you’re eating when eating foraged foods. Read everything you can find and then hook up with an expert on local wild edible plants. Cook and enjoy.

  18. Best tip. Don’t rush. Let those coals burn down to white ash on the outsides, you’ll have a much more even heat and things won’t burn so easy.

  19. You must have cast iron cook ware. They are expensive new; but you can find them at yard sales and flea markets around this area for a fraction of the new price. Check that they are still intact. No cracks, warped out of shape, etc. Don’t worry if they seem sticky and dirty, you can always clean them up and re-season them. Only cook and eat wild plants that you know are safe. Some plants are very toxic – think Jimson weed for an example.

  20. First enjoy the outdoor smells, which will mix with the cooking food smells. I like the idea of aluminum foil for easy cleanup, but am a little leery of cooking everything in aluminum foil for poison sake. So having oils or lard or animal fats to keep food from sticking or burning on your pans is essential for the end happy experience. The food will probably always taste good – especially when you are hungry – but the cook has to clean up and that is the unfun part of outdoor cooking if not prepared. Just smell that aroma!!!

  21. Three things: 1) I ordered in last night and the top of my pasta dish has a shiny side facing the food and regular poster board on the other. As I looked at it. I couldn’t help thinking BOB or camping…there must be more than single use for any item. I found at least two–a reflective surface for attracting help and also a mini solar reflector which can be built with other items I have in my bob.
    2) Learn how to use the principle of the straw oven. This is where you bring to a boil whatever dish you’re cooking (assuming it’s a one-pot meal). While waiting for the food to boil, you build your straw oven. Using straw or pine branches or even crushed newspaper, line a box, wood, cardboard (never tried a plastic tote so not sure whether it works) with the former lining. Place boiling pot in box, place a ‘lid’ of said lining over then cover to keep the ‘lid’ intact. Leave as you would a ‘crockpot’. Do whatever needs doing and check back in a few hours. This can also be done with a hole dug in the earth as your box. Worked for the farmers in England during WWII so I know it works now.
    3) Yes practice and know that you need to stock foods with carbs because in stress events, foraging you will find many greens but (especially for those with sugar level issues) we need carbs for the energy to survive.
    Thanks for finding this book Gaye, I look forward to her update too.

  22. Let your fire settle down and develop a good bed of coals. Pull some off to the side to cook over. Even heat will give you evenly cooked meat. It also will help keep down flare ups. A Dutch oven, set on the coals and topped with more coals, is a great way to cook your biscuits in the morning.

  23. To me a cast iron dutch oven and skillet are a must have along with several sources of cooking: charcoal grill, propane grill, propane camp stove, open fire, etc. It takes practice to cook in cast iron, especially when your kitchen stove isn’t available.

  24. when I use the BBQ I always sear the meat on both sides the shut off the flames where the meat is and use the flame on the other side of the BBQ. This indirect method keeps the meat from charring/burning and keeps the juices in.

  25. First cook everything completely for safety. There are ingredients all around us, crawdads, fish and frogs in streams or cattails for a great tasting source of starch’s, wonderful greens for salads such as miners lettuce, wild onions, Jerusalem artichokes and dandelions. Dandelions and pine needles make wonderful vitamin rich teas and don’t forget nutritious berries and acorns that can be ground into a flour for bread products.

  26. What is your best outdoor cooking tip?
    Low & slow. Whatever you’re cooking if it cooked on low temp nice and slow for perhaps longer than on a hot fire, it’s sure to come out tastier and far more tender.

  27. I would encourage those with a permanent bug out location to purchase a solar oven. It saves time in many ways. You don’t have to spend time cutting or collecting firewood. You don’t have to store charcoal or propane. You can put your food in it and then go work in the garden in the morning or early afternoon and at dinner time the meal is ready. There is no smoke or cooking odor smell. You can even pasteurize water in it.

  28. i always have some aluminum foil with me. i use it to wrap vegetables and potatoes that i set in coals to bake them slow and even.

  29. Do solar ovens work if the sun isn’t shining? I was camping in the Great Smoky Mountains this summer and the canopy shielded most of the direct sunlight and we then had a few days straight where it was overcast and rained either moderately to downpour!
    If an oven were dependent upon sunlight-heat to cook, it wouldn’t have operated on this camping trip..

    • Hoagie – I have a brand new solar over still sitting in its box. My back yard area is very shady and this time of year, even my solar panels are barely registering. Perhaps someone with more experience can answer this.

      — Gaye

    • I found these for solar panels the figures should work for solar ovens too. Not much for math anymore but I can figure this. Hoagie, in the Pacific NW we get a lot of cloudy days. There are panels made for us. Currently they are being used on our state capitol bldg and the installers said they work better on cloudy days than on sunny ones. I’ve seen plans for a parabolic solar oven just haven’t tried to make one yet.

      Those of us in the northern hemisphere point our panels due south. Those down under, point their panels north. Here’s how to calculate the best angle for your solar panels:
      • In the winter months, when there’s less sun, take your latitude, multiply it by 0.9, and then add 29 degrees.
      For example: if your latitude is 40 degrees, the angle to tilt your panels in winter is: (40 x 0.9) + 29 = 65 degrees.
      • In summer, multiply your latitude by 0.9, and subtract 23.5 degrees.
      • In spring and fall, subtract 2.5 degrees from your latitude.

    • Just to remind. someone asked whether solar works on cloudy days. Anyone ever get sunburned on a cloudy day? That’s call a sunburn for a reason. 😉 Yes they work, may take longer but works.
      Have a sonshine day,

  30. Thanks Gaye. I know someone with a solar oven but even in moderate sun, it’s a challenge at times, to get a roast or chicken cooked in a reasonable time. By reasonable I mean 4 or more hours. Once, after 6+ hours in the solar, we get too hungery and tossed the food into the conventional oven and in 30 minutes we were eating.

  31. My best cooking tip is: Have someone else do the cooking. lol Cooking is something I am not fond of so I would say to practice cooking recipes with what you would use if no electricity was present.

  32. Hey PAT that’s excellent advice!!!
    Fortunately I love to cook but I agree, if you would rather not do it then have another take care of the cooking and perhaps volunteer for cleanup detail.
    Just a word of advice for anyone that doesn’t like to cook. We all must eat and in some cases what we want to eat has to be cooked, like chicken for instance. If you aren’t a cook here’s a great easy recipe.
    First crank up the oven to 475 degrees.
    Next take a whole chicken and wash it under running water, inside body cavity and out. Pat dry with paper towels.
    Then mix together cold butter with garlic powder; sage. rosemary, thyme and rub this mixture all over the bird, inside & out.
    Now slice oranges and or lemons and stick them inside the cavity.
    Finally stick the bird, in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet of course, and place it into the HOT oven. Give it about 20 minutes under the high heat, then cut the temperature back to 375 and let that bird roast for another 40 or 50 minutes.
    The chicken is thoroughly cooked when the leg bone rotates and the meat around the leg bone disconnects with little to no effort.
    If you really want to get fancy toss some sliced potato wedges, carrots and onions in that pan with the chicken and you’ll have a feast! in just over an hour, rain or shine.

    • Thanks for the recipe hoagie. Still doesn’t solve my problem. 🙂 I know how to cook and am passable at it. Mmm Just don’t like to do it. You coming for a long visit? As it is my hubby tells his sister that I starve him, so she takes pity on him (and me) and cooks a great meal.

  33. Tr to use hardwood to make the coals as they will last longer and cook hotter. If you have it use a grill to keep the food away from direct contact with the coals. As others have said a Dutch oven is great.

  34. For easy clean up of pots (excludes cast iron), smear some liquid dish washing soap all over the outside bottom and sides BEFORE putting it on the fire or coals EVERYTIME your cook. Be generous, but it does not have to be dripping. The cheap stuff from the dollar store will do. The pot will still become black from soot. But, It will be much easier to clean afterwards. you will find the spots you missed, because they will be difficult to get the black stuff off. This will save an enormous amount of time cleaning and keep the soot off your other stuff in your pack. Old boy scout trick.
    Coals on top of the dutch oven as important as the ones below.
    If using a rack or grid to cook on, have a cooler area and hotter area. That way you can regulate the temperature and speed of the food by moving it around.
    Add a little dry grass or leaves to get a quick temp boost.

  35. We have a propane grill with a side burner. While the grill doesn’t work optimally, the burner is awesome! We have used it many times to fry bacon (keeping the frying mess out of my kitchen) and my best use was water bath canning last summer! It kept the heat out of my kitchen/house and was the only way I COULD can because I have a smooth-top electric stove. We keep four or five propane cylinders full at all times. You just never know when you’ll need them…and they do double-duty for hooking up to a ventless propane heater, should the electric fail and we need heat indoors. Our goal is to have a very large propane tank set up and filled. We use very little energy otherwise, but in a grid-down situation, we’d need every bit of that tank.

  36. What is your best outdoor cooking tip?

    My best one would be to always have aluminum foil handy. You can cook many great meals with foil on the campfire!

  37. Wrap wild leaves around meat before cooking. Will add flavor, slow moisture loss, and prevent outer skin from burning. Experiment with different leaves for a variety of flavors!

  38. ialways make two firerings onemain large ring and and then a smaller ring off to the side of the main ring,but still connected to the main ring like a #8.In the larger main ring i have my campfire i get that roaring and then i use my shovel to putcoals into the smaller ring.its on this smaller riing i do my cooking the bed of coals provides plenty of heat to cook without flareups and flames to burn me or the food .i also like to wrap cleaned baking potatoes, pierce them with knife ,wrap them in foil ,place them directly on th coals and the bury them with more coals .i do this first since they take longer to cook than most other items

  39. Practice and have options. Cooking over an open fire is way different than cooking on a grill which is not the same as a rocket stove. You will need different tools for each. But if you have sunshine throw something in the solar oven and relax.

  40. I have not done any outdoor cooking other than using the gas grill for years. Our power went out this summer for a few hour and found out my gas stove, which has an electronic ignition needed matches to work. I would like to get a rocket stove or something comparable and a solar oven to have on hand
    when you know what hits the fan. I need to get busy and Christmas is coming of course.

  41. I’m not much on outdoor cooking. That is something I need to learn before the SHTF. I would say that Barbara is right though. Practice and more practice.

  42. When cooking outside, we always keep a large spray bottle filled with water to douse the flames if they should get too high.

  43. The big box stores sell a propane travel grill that uses the small, expensive, disposable gas bottles. For home use I have an adapter that connects to the twenty pound, refillable jugs.

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