Put off by the origin-unknown, not-so-fresh, pesticide-laden offerings at the grocery store? Hungry for delicious high-quality veg and fragrant herbs, and looking to have some control over where your food comes from but never planted a seed in your life?
Foodie meets gardener in this deliciously accessible, easy-to-use guide to growing, cooking, and preserving twenty-some popular, easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs. Taking the budding gardener from planting, growing and harvesting, to preparation of delicious, nutritious, and affordable meals, this book is a celebration of food in all its stages.
The Food Lover's Garden guides the reader through:
Getting started with easy step-by-step growing instructions from balcony to backyard
Simple, tasty recipes incorporating each vegetable and herb
Meal combinations of two or more of the featured dishes
Selecting essential kitchen tools and gadgets to maximize the harvest
Canning and pickling recipes to preserve the rest.
Perfect for the foodie and budding gardener — from the humble potato, to pungent garlic, to the beauty of the beet, classic staples take a delicious turn with novel, innovative recipes. Truly food for all seasons and palates. Foodies, new gardeners, urban homesteaders, and supporters of sustainable living — take back your right to high-quality food with The Food Lover's Garden.
About the author
Jenni Blackmore is an artist, writer, micro-farmer, and certified Permaculture Design Consultant. Passionate about all things "food," she's an ardent supporter of holistic food production who strives to grow most of her own vegetables. Her most recent book, Permaculture for the Rest of Us, follows her journey from industrial Manchester to a sustainable island homestead in Nova Scotia. When she isn't painting, writing, or tending to the various feathered residents of her QuackaDoodle Permaculture Farm, Jenni likes to slip her kayak into the waves or take her bike for a spin along the trail.
I give this book 7 out of 10 acorns. I'd give 8 or 9 if you are brand new to growing food and/or preparing it.
It's fun, even if you are not a beginner, but it's especially useful for beginning gardeners. There's some advice here you don't see in the typical garden food book, like
at least submerge greens in icy cold water the very moment they’re picked, even if it isn’t convenient at that time to thoroughly wash and sort through them. This is a biggie! So fundamentally simple, yet so essential.
She moves from this to the importance of using a salad spinner for drying greens - there's really no substitute, this is one "gadget" you need to have to enjoy the fruits of your garden labor.
Jenni is gardening in Nova Scotia, so her tips apply to colder climates in particular. I'm right now (in March) trying to follow her advice about waiting until the soil has warmed to plant various things - I know she's right, it's just hard, this time of year. . .
She doesn't cover all the garden plants, she chose her favorites, and they are not all annual garden plants, like kale and beets. She also singles out black currants and sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) as excellent perennials for your garden. The tone is very conversational, maybe a little bit jokey, with actual smiley emojis (like this:) She's got a nice chapter on herbs, both growing them and using them.
Then she moves into the kitchen, again assuming the reader knows nothing. She covers essential tools for cooking, then starts to talk about preparing garden foods. I'm with her on cooking oils (yes to olive and avacado, no to corn and canola) so that's good. She mostly has general descriptions of things you can make, but there is a recipe for sunchoke pate' that I really need to try. It combines sunchokes with ground nut (like hazelnut) and more - it looks like it will be very good! There are a couple of specific recipes for almost every main crop.
She finishes it up with talk of how to preserve the harvest, from simply freezing to water bath canning. Something I haven't seen in another book is a description of harvesting poppy seeds (she recommends using a pillow case) for use in baking. She finishes with chamomille tea.
This book has been sitting in my 'to read' pile for a while, but other books always seemed to call to me more. I finally focused in and finished this one, but that first sentence sums up my feelings. It's not badly written or poor information. If I was just starting out, it would have been a much more interesting read. As it was however, I only found a few tidbits here or there that I wasn't already well aware of. This is one of those books where it is bound to be far more useful to a new gardener than an old hand. If you are more familiar, it might still be worth it to have a copy for those tidbits I mentioned. As the previous review noted, there's a section on poppy harvesting that is uncommon to many books.
Still, I don't know that I would have been happy having spent the money if I hadn't gotten a copy in a contest. Most likely I will end up gifting it to a friend just starting to explore gardening rather than adding it to my own bookshelf. It will be of far greater value to them than myself. Then again, I imagine it is those newer gardeners who this book is truly intended for. That said, I am certainly going to jot a few notes of those bits and bobs I hadn't already known before I do. Make of that what you will.