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Food Drying with an Attitude

A combination of spirit, spunk, attitude, conscience and good food!


Food Drying with an Attitude promises something for everyone.  It’s dried-ingredient recipes offer a wild romp involving an imaginative mindset to titillate your taste buds: from Zucchini-Rhubarb Bread, Dried Tomato Garbanzo Salad, Blackened Sweet Red Pepper Puree and Mushroom Pate, to Toasted Vegetable Flax Crackers, Modern Pemmican and Eggplant Dolmas, even Jerky Angle Food Cake.

Bell’s dazzling culinary gems include an historic Native American recipe passed on to her by Buffalo Bird Woman: Four-Vegetable-Mixed mash of dried beans and squash; and another entry by famed Chicago Restaurateur Charlie Trotter: Dragon Crackers, an East Indian spiced flax seed flatbread.

The recipes are interspersed with useful tips and insights on substitutions, alternate ingredients and variations on a theme. Plus, she discusses raw-drying, cooked-drying, half-drying, twice-drying (marinating infusion) and rehydration methods.  


"Bell’s book, Food Drying with Attitude, conveys an inspiring attitude of creative self-sufficiency by comprehensively exploring the art and practicality of drying food.  It is not just a book of instructions.  It explains how to dry, what works best and gives simple directions on how to dry a wide variety of food."

 "Bell has hit a most convincing stride that blends playfulness and humor along with a political perspective relating to our food resources.  Bell’s “can-do” friendly tone serves up a thoughtful way of looking at how we get food, making this book more than a cookbook or a food preservation methodology—it succeeds in giving solid information of how to make getting food an approachable and motivating political manifesto."                                                          Back to the top


Mary Bell's Complete Food Dehydrator Cookbook

With this extraordinary book, you can learn how to cross junk food and expensive store-bought snacks off your family's shopping list -- and add to your cupboard homemade, preservative-free fruit leathers, candied apricots, beef (and fish) jerkies, "sun" dried tomatoes, corn chips, banana chips, and so much more!

From the back cover

Far from being a fad, food dehydrating is one of the most ancient, effective, and nutritious ways of preserving food. Now, at last, there is a book that teaches absolutely everything there is to know about using an electric food dehydrator to dry food at home -- and gives more than 100 foolproof recipes for scrumptious snacks, beef jerky, and meals made from dried foods.

Mary Bell gives specific techniques and instructions for preparing every kind of fruit (from apples to watermelon) and vegetable (from asparagus to zucchini). There are beef jerky recipes and beef jerky safety information. She also provides important shopping tips for buying an electric food dehydrator. The recipes for cooked meals (including mushroom soup, sloppy joes, pesto and moist banana bread) will make this book a kitchen classic. And recipes for lightweight, filling trail snacks mean that the book will travel, too.

Additional chapters explain how to make herb seasonings, granolas, celery powder, cosmetics, dried fruit sugars, potpourri, and even pet treats! Food drying is an excellent way for gardeners to preserve their produce. It is a great way to make healthful snacks for the kids. Beef jerky can be a low-fat snack, Beef jerky recipes are included. It's perfect for the new wave of thrifty consumers who can't bear to spend dollars health food stores for treats they could make for pennies themselves. And food drying doesn't use chemicals or preservatives -- so it's great for you and for the planet, too!

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Just Jerky Cookbook:
The Complete Guide to Making It

Just Jerky is the do-it-yourself guide to making your own jerky in an oven, smoker or food dehydrator with strips or ground beef, venison, poultry, fish and even soy protein. You'll learn the basics for concocting a simple teriyaki marinade as well as easy gourmet recipes for such exotic jerky delights as Bloody Mary, Chicken Tandoori, Mole, Cajun and Honeyed Salmon Jerky. Discover the subtleties of cooking with jerky to make everything from slaw, hash and backpacker goulash to cake and ice cream.

From the back cover

Jerky is the most popular meat snack today. It's low in fat and calories and high in protein, making it a favorite among hikers, hunters, bikers, skiers and those on the go. Make beef jerky, venison jerky, and much more.

Here's the do-it-yourself guide to making your own beef jerky in an oven, smoker or food dehydrator with strips or ground beef, venison, poultry, fish and even soy protein. You'll learn the basics for concocting a simple teriyaki marinade as well as easy gourmet recipes for such exotic jerky delights as Bloody Mary, Chicken Tandoori, Mole, Cajun and Honeyed Salmon Jerky. You'll discover the subtleties of cooking with jerky to make everything from slaw, hash and backpacker goulash to cake and ice cream.

Finally, you don't have to pay a fortune for jerky at the convenience store. And you'll get dozens of beef jerky recipes.


I've made jerky from wild turkey, bear, pheasant, antelope, deer, goose, moose and elk. Deer meat is still my favorite, although moose and elk make good jerky, too. Last year, my wife Colleen and I took two venison hindquarters-sliced the meat thin, cut it into strips and marinated it in everything from Mary Bell's teriyaki to her onion concoction. Every recipe Mary Bell has shared with us has been great. Four weekends a year, 11 members of our family get together for campouts. We cook over an open pit and snack on dried fruits and jerky. We think of these outings as experiential learning where we reach consensus and peace of mind as a family. And we're always more likely to reflect around a campfire with a piece of jerky in hand. I have yet to be in a camp that doesn't like jerky. It's a staff of life, like bread and water. When you make it yourself, it's one of those foods that brings you closer to nature and connects you to your ancestors who survived by living off the land.

-- John Kvasnicka, Executive Director, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association

Introduction by Mary Bell

True confessions. I was once a vegetarian. It was the early 70s when I decided vegetarianism was a gentler, cheaper way for a single mother of two to live. The three of us had been vegetarians about a year when my 5-year-old son shouted out from the back seat of the car one day, "I don't care if you're a vegetarian, Mom. I want a hamburger." I heard him loud and clear and drove to the nearest burger joint.

It was at a time when I was struggling to take responsibility for securing our food supply. We had a large garden and I dried food as a method of preservation. Once my son let me know he wanted meat in our diet, I knew I had to develop the skills to bag my own. That's when I joined an archery league. One night, friends from my archery league brought over a deer and we butchered it at my kitchen table. I learned to cook venison and began to make jerky. When I started drying food, I began outdoors with a stack of old window screens with abysmal success. Oven-drying was a bit more reliable. It was the electric food dehydrator, however, that opened the door to successful food drying.

As my passion for food drying grew, I sold food dehydrators at home and garden shows, fairs, and sports shows. I promoted the concept of food drying in North and Central America. I wrote two books on the subject, Food Dehydration Made Simple (Magic Mill, 1981) and Mary Bell's Complete Food Dehydrator Cookbook (William Morrow, 1994). I continue to teach classes and talk about food drying to just about anybody who'll listen. The more I learn, the more it fuels my curiosity.

In my travels, people often hit me with a barrage of questions about making beef jerky. Is jerky hard to make? How do you know when jerky is dry? What's a good marinade? What are the best beef jerky recipes? Is it safe to eat? Making jerky, I soon learned, is why many people purchase food dehydrators.

If you buy a lot of beef jerky, if you hunt, fish, hike, or if you're just looking for a healthy low-fat snack or perhaps you're one of those people who just took a new dehydrator out of the box and it is sitting on the kitchen counter and your family is yelling "Dad, beef jerky, please," this book is for you.

I've provided information on how to make jerky out of strips of meat or fish, how to make ground beef jerky, as well as making jerky from non-meat products. I've addressed safety concerns. For a broader understanding, I included a history. Then, hold onto your taste buds, the best jerky marinades I've ever tasted are included. Plus there are delicious and fun recipes using jerky in cooking and baking-there's jerky stew, jerky bread, jerky cake, jerky frosting and even jerky ice cream.

I've spent years collecting recipes, suggestions, tips, techniques and ideas from a variety of sources. I've experimented and tested every recipe in this book. I've dried jerky in dehydrators, in smokers and in the oven. This book is more than just instructions and recipes-it represents a community of people. Throughout these pages you will find friends who shared their wisdom and experiences with me. The jerkies and recipes for using them were taste-tested by family, staff at L'Etoile, friends and show audiences. My husband Joe was the lucky one who tested the vegetarian jerkies. He's a great guy with a good heart. Odessa Piper, owner of L'Etoile, a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, opened her kitchen for testing and created the opportunity for Chef Gene Cowan to help with the marinades and superb flavor blendings. Editor Annie Beckmann was a treat to work with throughout all stages of this book's evolution. Doris Mueller scoured the library system and found helpful information. Gratitude is expressed to the Don Engebretson family for their help and guidance.

My determination to be self-sufficient has turned into a life philosophy. Food represents our most intimate link and essential connection to the land. It is our source of health and vitality, the centerpiece of family, ethnic and community traditions. Food reflects who we are and what we value. I believe the more we assume responsibility for our food supply and reduce our dependence on the food industry, the more we lessen our impact on the planet. Taking food from the land around us and preserving it in our homes provides us with a thoughtful alternative. Drying meat and fish is intrinsic to this approach.

It's been more than 25 years since my son Eric shouted for a burger from the back seat. Last fall, he started working at an archery shop and within six months he was hitting the bull's-eye square on at 20 yards, 95 percent of the time. And every once in awhile, my son and other friends still bring me hunks of raw meat to try out new jerky marinades.


A good book for jerky fans everywhere. . . . Mary Bell is the undisputed queen of the dehydrator, the holder of a reliable jerky recipe for every occasion and, with her new book, Just Jerky, an answer to every jerk's question.  

-- George Hesselberg, Wisconsin State Journal

Mary Bell delivers
Vegetarian jerky? Sure...and you'll be amazed at what she's come up with. We're not just talking about vegetables, either.
And to finish it all off, here's a grabber for ya...jerky desserts! Very nicely done and highly recommended.

-- Mimi Miller, Mimi's Cyber Kitchen

Just Jerky offers deer hunters plenty of recipes to chew on.
Here's a do-it-yourself guide to making your own jerky, just in time to make good use of the venison bagged in the recent deer hunting season.

-- Karen Herzog, Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel

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Jerky People Cookbook:
Their Jerky-Making Recipes, Stories and Tips

Jerky People is a storehouse of sound advice for beginner jerky makers as well as jerky sages. Within these pages you will find recipes for making jerky from beef, venison, turkey, chicken, as well as blue goose, musk ox, carp and much, much more.

From the back cover

Mary Bell likes beef jerky and likes telling people's stories. "I believe people relate to each other's stories in a way that's easier and more fun than by following how-to directions."

Mary's storytelling style won her a 2002 award from the Minnesota Free Papers Association for her personal column, Vignettes, in the Fillmore County Journal, Preston, Minnesota.

"Jerky People passes its own taste test. The author, Mary Bell, gives us all a new appreciation for one of mankind's oldest treats." --Ron Schara, host ESPN's Backroads with Ron and Raven.

Jerky People presents an array of wildly adventurous individuals willing to share their great beef jerky recipes. Some of the Jerky People you will meet:


Hon. Monte B. Carlson, Fifth Judicial District, Burley, Idaho

Making beef jerky is my hobby. It's my diversion from the courtroom. I find it satisfying and fulfilling to take a hunk of raw meat and make it tasty. Some of us make jerky because we are hunters. Not only do we want to consume what we kill, but we prefer venison jerky to venison chops. For over 30 years I've bow hunted deer and elk with the same loony partners and together we've turned a zillion deer and twenty-three elk into jerky. With that kind of tasting experience I think it is fair to say that I've become a pretty good judge of jerky.

Jerky has become a tradition in our family. While we were students with limited income, my wife and I practically lived on wild game. While pregnant with our first child, the smell of venison chops or steaks made her ill. Then, as well as now, she prefers her big game meat made into jerky. For three and half decades we've been making jerky in a food dryer and more recently we use our smoker.

Ever notice that he who controls food, is king? Several years ago I convinced my nephew, who was doing nothing other than waiting for college to begin, to backpack with me into Idaho's mountain country for an archery elk hunt. This non-hunting six-foot-seven-inch lad from Kentucky became my pack mule and carried all my heavy camping equipment. All he required was a slice of jerky every now and then. Like a trained seal being fed a fish, my nephew actually packed out my bull elk, with no reward other than a constant (but obscene) amount of jerky.

Some say that beef jerky makers are just a little off the plumb line. I make jerky for my odd assortment of wack-o hunting pals, but I charge them one-third of the result - my ambulance chasing days die slowly. Once, while practicing law, I drove to Eastern Idaho to meet with a client in his home. The whole house was filled with smoke. Up above me, hanging from the rafters, were strips of raw meat. This guy had killed a deer and right there in his living room was making smoked jerky.

My favorite jerky recipe is the Kevin and Annie one from Mary Bell's book, Just Jerky. I like the blend of soy sauce and maple syrup. I have to admit that sometimes I add orange peelings to give it a little more zing. Like most jerky makers, I always look forward to trying new recipes and tinkering with exotic flavor combinations.

Just Jerky is the beef jerky maker's bible. Not only does it teach the art of drying hamburger (which, by the way, works perfectly well with ground sausage and ground turkey), it also explains how to make traditional and even unusual tasting jerkies. Mary encourages her readers to be creative and blend unusual flavors. No book on the market is better. Mary fields more questions, solves more problems, and delivers better information than anyone else in the crowded jerky theater. Not only does she give solid jerky making advice, she even answers e-mails when something goes wrong with a batch. I know, I've appealed to her wisdom more than once.

Now she's done it again with Jerky People. It is filled with great stories, more recipes for us addicts, and it's flavored throughout with good advice. Jerky people are a goofy bunch that actually enjoy making jerky in their attics, basements, kitchens, living rooms or garages - with or without food dryers, smokers, or ovens - and they even use such dangerous chemicals as liquid smoke. Jerky people experiment by smoking, marinating, grinding, drying, salting and flavoring all kinds of meat (I've made antelope and cougar jerky.) Jerky people keep searching for that one great bite of jerky that has the perfect flavor. I judge this new book, Jerky People, as wonderful and I am personally grateful to all of those who shared recipes, wisdom and advice.


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Cutting Across Time


An engaging, well-illustrated account of turn-of-the-century logging of Lake Superior’s virgin pine and hardwood forests, as exemplified by John Schroeder and his company of Milwaukee, and their operations on Minnesota’s North Shore and Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands. Fun history!

-- John C. Green, Department of Geology, Universityof Minnesota, Duluth

Cutting Across Time is a fine production, a splendid book, beautifully illustrated, wonderful use of color, in fact it goes far beyond my expectations when we first embarked on this project. You should feel wonderful satisfaction for producing such a fine product, and I am sure it will be a reference volume of many years to come. Everything about it is excellent.

-- Elmer L Andersen, Former Governor of Minnesota, February 8, 1999

I enjoyed reading Cutting Across Time and was equally delighted to see what a very handsome volume it is. The photos, maps and artistic renderings are wonderful. Congratulations to you on completing a task which must have been arduous at times. Currently I am writing to a member of the Association for Great Lakesmaritime history who has done some work on tugs and published several good pieces of work. I am requesting that he write a review for the AGLHM newsletter.

-- Rev. Fred Neuschel, April 3, 1999

In my humble opinion you are to be commended for not only writing a very accurate, but also extremely interesting biography of my grandfather, John Schroeder. After reading “Cutting Across Time” I now have a much better knowledge of my grandfather’s full and active life and in particular his success in logging the difficult CrossRivertimber area. I am sure that my grandfather’s present living descendants will enjoy reading your fine work.

-- Frederick J. Schroeder, Jr., March 6, 1999

I just finished “Cutting Across Time,” and want to commend you for an excellent book. It is easy to read and non-judgmental in terms of practices of 100 years ago. All we can say is … times have changed."

-- Paul M. Olson, President, Blandin Foundation


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