So you read Surviving Off Off-Grid (or maybe you didn’t, that’s okay — put it on your list). Well, I did. And I liked it a lot. Especially the practical tips about what life could look like off-grid, how it could work with food preparation and storage. Like the smokehouse, springhouse, icehouse, and cellar. But still I had a hard time picturing myself in that world.
Then I read The Last Pilgrims, an end times novel by the same author, Michael Bunker. This novel is set twenty years after a world-wide societal collapse. A group of plain people, the Vallenses, live and survive in what was once Central Texas.
It is a good, fun, clean, thought-provoking adventure story. Allies are found in unlikely places. You begin to care for and understand the people. I need good relationships to stay interested in a book (or movie, for that matter), and I really like these people.
My favorite is Ruth. She’s the daughter of the Vallensian pastor, Jonathan Wall. This sweet daughter happens to be a tomboy, a kind of girl I admire (probably because I’m not one). She hunts, she fishes, she puts game on the table for the community. She hides out in the springhouse when she wants to get away. This is not so dissimilar from how sourdough or a sink of hot soapy water soothes me.
What I love most is that this story makes survival living and eating seem real to me. I can see it. I can smell it. I can taste it.
I picked out some quick passages from the book to share with you. They have to do with food — real food in an end-times scenario. I think you’re going to taste, smell and see just what I did!
As a side note, I’ve read my share of Christian novels with main characters popping open sodas or munching on Oreos. The Last Pilgrims is downright refreshing compared to other books on the market.
“Ruth didn’t really like hunting for pigs in the summertime. Pigs were usually winter food, but their numbers had multiplied so much over the last few years that it had become necessary. As a result, they were hunted in large numbers even in the summer. The Walls didn’t mind the extra meat. When they didn’t have visiting guests (which wasn’t very often), they would grind the meat into sausage, lacto-ferment it, smoke it in the stone smokehouse, and dry it. Dried, smoked sausage was one of the primary foods for the Walls whenever they traveled, because it was perfectly preserved without any added processing. It was also very convenient because it could be carried in a backpack, a pocket, or a satchel, ready to eat at any given moment.”
“Ruth liked it [roast pig] slightly charred and glazed with honey, served with onions and basil from the garden, accompanied by pickled beans from the root cellar, and nopal cactus juice sweetened with honey.”
“Ruth went into the stone springhouse to sit down for a moment, relishing the cool air inside. The springhouse actually wasn’t built on a spring, as most springhouses were. It was built mostly below ground, about 20 feet from the large icehouse. The stone walls of the structure were nearly two feet thick. The ice melt from the icehouse flowed down an underground pipe through the thick wall and into the springhouse. Stone gutters had been built around the inside walls of the icehouse, and the icy water filled the eight-inch troughs. When the dripping water had risen enough that it crested the dam on the trough in the south wall, it flowed down into a deep cistern where it could be pumped up via a hand-pump when it was needed. The icy cold water was the perfect place to store perishables, such as cheese, butter, and leftover food and the tough was nearly always full of jars and crocks of goodies, along with sealed jars of beer.”
“Each man would quietly eat his supper of sausage, jerky, or pemmican, with hardtack or maybe a dried tortilla. Tonight, perhaps a few of the men had spread a bit of sugared lard on their bread — those blessed enough to have any lard left.”
“Heating up the mesquite coffee always came first. Each man carried a ration of roasted mesquite pods, and each prepared their own cup of coffee each morning. It was more practical this way. It would take too long to heat large pots of coffee, but only a few minutes for a small cup of water. When the water boiled, small broken bits of mesquite pods, roasted black, would be tossed into the water and boiled for a few more minutes. The sweet, highly caffeinated concoction was then poured through a rough cloth into a drinking cup and the ‘grounds’ were set aside to be buried with whatever other evidence might be left over from the night’s stay. It was said that if the Ghost militia was ever tracked and caught by an Aztlani army, it would be by the smell of mesquite coffee oozing from their pores.”
More passages tell of sustainably raised fish; grey-water systems that water pecan trees during the dry season; bountiful peach harvests; ample supplies of stored grains, vegetables and meats; and nopal juice and wine made from the ripe fruit of the optunia cactus.
These interesting threads about sustainable living and community food production are woven into a compelling end-times adventure story. I highly recommend it for you or your adventure-loving children.
(By the way, Michael Bunker’s fermented sausage recipe is in my book that hits bookstores in April.)
How to Get “The Last Pilgrims”
I just know you want to order the book right now, but may I ask that you wait and order it on Friday?
The author is planning a “book bomb” on Amazon on February 24, 2012 — that’s this Friday. The more people that order on that day, the more highly the book will rank, and the higher ranking will bring it to the attention of other shoppers.
Are you planning to get this book for yourself or anyone else? What interests you about it?
P.S. Here’s the book trailer.
Itty bitty disclaimer: I received a review copy of The Last Pilgrims from the author, Michael Bunker, without obligation to review it positively, or even at all. I really do like it, so I’m more than pleased to be able to tell you so.