Hank Shaw – Hunt, Gather, Cook

Have you ever wondered how we humans managed to survive before boxed breakfast cereal or skinless, boneless chicken breasts neatly packed in styrofoam and plastic wrap? Or have you ever taken a walk in the woods, or along a stream and questioned what around you might be edible?

If so, you should get to know Hank Shaw. Or pick up a copy of his new book Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. More than a cookbook, though there are plenty of recipes, and more than a memoir, though the book is filled with personal stories, Hunt, Gather, Cook is an introduction to a different way of “doing” food. Hank Shaw grows, forages, hunts, or fishes almost all of his food. Remember that old Grape Nuts commercial with Euell Gibbons? (“Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.”) Fast forward 40 years and you have Hank, stalking the wild world around him, foraging for wild greens, hunting rabbits, and digging for clams. Oh yes, and like Euell, eating parts of pine trees (pine nuts)!

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Some people hunt, some people fish, some people forage, some people are gourmet cooks. Most people don’t do all of these things, but Hank does. It’s his life passion. If you are a regular reader of Simply Recipes you will be well familiar with Hank as a frequent contributor to this site. For the last year, and much of the time while Hank has been working on his book, we have been cooking together once or twice a week. In addition to cooking we will often take foraging expeditions, either to parks for olives or to the American River for blackberries and elderflowers. This is one of the reasons it’s such a delight to see Hank’s passion put into print. I’ve been inspired by Hank since the moment I met him several years ago. Here’s a guy who can make anything. And if you are ever stuck on a deserted isle, Hank is the one you want with you. Give him a weedy, empty lot and he can prepare a gourmet feast with what he finds.

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Rugosa rose hips

The book is divided into three main sections – foraging, fishing and hunting. While I don’t think it’s possible for one book to teach you everything you need to know to become an expert in any of these areas, in this book you will find basic primers on most of the things you will need to get started. Hunting not your thing? Stick with the section on foraging. Hank will teach you how to make ice cream from rose petals, and homemade root beer from sassafras roots and bark. There is even an entire chapter on making homemade wine from flowers and fruit.

Interested in hunting but haven’t the faintest idea on how to get started? Hank takes you through the steps, whether it’s pheasants, ducks, rabbits or wild boar. Hank even includes hunting squirrel, which is something my dad did as a kid growing up in Minnesota. At the end of each chapter are gourmet recipes. Given that you’ve worked so hard to secure your game, fish, or wild greens, why not cook them as well as you can?

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Hank’s dandelion risotto

What I love about this book is that even if you never intend to get up before dawn, throw on waders and sit in a duck blind for hours in the bone-chilling cold, or hike for hours and shoot and gut a deer, or dig for clams with your toes at low tide, if you have any interest in food, you will find inspiration in this book. Most of the recipes can be made with simple substitutions with ingredients you can find at your local market. It’s past the season for fresh nettles around here, but I made Hank’s wild greens risotto with dandelion greens I bought from Whole Foods. It was the first time I had actually cooked with dandelion greens, even though my mom has been picking these weeds from the yard and putting them in our soups for years. Wonderful.

Thank you Hank for finally putting to print, what we your friends have been inspired by all these years. Congratulations!

Links:

New York Times review of Hunt, Gather, Cook – and of other cookbooks released for the summer, by Sam Sifton
LA Weekly book review – by Jenn Garbee
Review by Al Cambronne in Love, Obsession, and Consequences on a Changing American Landscape
Review by Sean Timberlake on Punk Domestics
Serious Reads, Hunt Gather Cook review from Serious Eats
Hunt, Gather, Cook – a review by Rebecca Tolley-Stokes of Potlikkery

24 Comments

  1. Kalyn

    Congratulations to Hank, and I love that smiling photo of him!

  2. NSH

    Oh my gosh, Hank, huge huge congratulations!! I can’t wait to buy the book!

  3. seeks

    My brother would have loved this book. So glad Hank has put this together, something that is delicious and useful and environmentally minded (i.e., eat what is around you): that’s totally in the spirit of my brother, who had always made a point to be prepared to walk off into the woods and disappear. Thanks Hank, and congrats!

  4. Becky

    So excited to read this. My copy is supposed to be out for delivery today. Such an amazing inspiration.

  5. Susan

    Congratulations, Hank! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book. My husband is a hunter and an avid cook. He’s talked about learning the art of foraging for years but hasn’t really taken the time to just do it. This should help us get started. We’ll both be excited to learn more. Thanks.

  6. Daria

    How cool. And good information for us to know that we’ve mostly lost over time. Timely for me as well, since I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the “paleo” lifestyle and diet and this fits right in.

  7. Ruth

    That looks like an amazing book. And the recipe looks fab too!

  8. Fawn

    This is beautiful! I am a 38 year old mom and I’m going bow hunting for the first time this year. I will also be buying this book, thanks Hank!!!

  9. Mary

    Oh Elise! What a great post…

    Congratulations to Hank! I love him and all the wild food he stands for. :-) Elise – now that you are on a roll with this sort of thing you really need to take a look at the Weston A Price Foundation’s Website and also two really great blogs on traditional eating/cooking…one is The Nourished Kitchen (Jenny)and the other is The Nourishing Gourmet (Kimi).

    Thanks for a really great post…your website is the best!

    Love,

    Mary

  10. tomoko

    Congratulations Hank!

    My grandmother cooked wild things too. She grew up in the mountains of Nagano, Japan. She has shown me wild plants to gather and prepare for meals.. mountain vegetables are really delicious. It’s amazing to think you can live on plants; roots, leaves, fruits… that just grow naturally… she’d take such ordinary things and make extraordinary dishes…

    Nature’s bounty!

  11. Jena

    I keep telling my husband and our friends who hunt that I’d like to learn how, just in case it should ever become necessary to know. (I read a lot of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction, so it feels like a distinct possibility.) Maybe I should get this book, just in case, too.

    In the meantime, our hunter friends bring wild game for us–bear, moose, elk, etc.–but I often think there must be a better way to cook it than I end up doing. Does Hank include these animals in his book?

    Yes on elk, moose, and other venison meats. No on bear, at least in the book. You should check out Hank’s website though Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook where he has posted hundreds of recipes, many using wild game. ~Elise

  12. Abbey

    Does the wine chapter include prickly pear fruit? That would be awesome!

    The book includes a chapter on prickly pear, and a chapter on making wine from fruit, but not necessarily on making wine from prickly pear fruit. But I’m guessing that the basic wine making instructions could be used with juice made from prickly pear. ~Elise

  13. Amber

    What a wonderful review! I was already itching to read Hank’s new book, and the way you’ve described it makes me want to buy extra copies to pass out to my friends, too. :) I can’t wait to get my copy!

    Love the photo of him, too.

  14. Katrina

    Congrats!! This is so exciting!

  15. KimH

    I cant wait to check it out! Congrats Hank!

  16. Terry in Colchester VT

    Thank you Hank for writing this and thank you Elise for letting us know about it! I will put this on my Father’s day wish list.

    Now I need to rustle up some dandelion greens for that beautiful looking risotto.

  17. Bertha Alicia Moseson

    I am excited to read about this book. My husband used to hunt, and we had a cookbook called, “How to Cook His Goose” which was filled with recipes for cooking goose, duck, pheasant, chuckar, quail, and all good things. I think he would like this book for father’s day, just for old times sake. Plus, I intend to retire soon, and I may start foraging…I am now a vegetarian, so I don’t need to hunt!
    Thank you,
    Bertha

  18. Beth

    I love the idea of this book. It reminds me of going to my mother-in-law’s village in Greece, where you can walk out the door and find wild oregano, chamomile, and even ‘candle wick’ flowers, which can be floated in olive oil and lit. The people in Greece still live have this knowledge: when a young colleague from work and I were at a conference in England she was amazed at the size of the ‘horta’ or wild greens (dandelions), which were just begging to be gathered. Now I know what I want for Christmas!

  19. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I love his site!~

    Can’t wait to see the book!!

  20. Kris

    Nice! Looks like a great book. Can’t wait to see it. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  21. CJ McD

    I’m a fan.

  22. Willow

    This sounds like such an awesome cook book for my son who is an avid outdoorsman! I look forward to buying it for his upcoming birthday! And.. perhaps as a (very) early birthday present to myself!!!

  23. David

    I definetly want that book. I hunt and fish myself and next week am going to a survival training camp.

  24. rose

    will definitely be picking up a copy of this book – for my own interest and my husband’s. what a neat set of topics for a book!
    congrats hank – have been following you through elise for years!

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