With spring firmly underway and greenery springing up in every
direction, I'd like to say a few words in praise of one of my
favorite types of cookbooks--kitchen garden books. Unlike,
say, grill books or preserving books, it's not a densely populated
category--there might be one every year or two. They're all
roughly the same format: a focus on each vegetable or fruit,
followed by recipes. Some are arranged alphabetically, some
seasonally, some by plant family.
This year there are two that I
know of--practically a bonanza for cooks who garden. The more
hardcore one is Willi Galloway's Grow
Cook Eat (Sasquatch Books). It's got tips and detailed
cultivation notes worthy of the aspiring market gardener, as well
as solid start-up advice for novices. But there's only one
recipe for each crop; at least it's a well-chosen one in
practically every case. It's the perfect kitchen garden book
if you've already got plenty of vegetable recipes and just want to
immerse yourself in the growing end of things.
Just the opposite in approach is
the Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook (from the
editors of Sunset magazine). It's absolutely
chockful of well-constructed, reasonably new recipes. On the
other hand, there's just a skeletal page on how to grow each one,
emphasizing mostly why you would grow it and how you would harvest
it rather than what you need to do to make it survive in your own
patch. It's more of a cook's book, suitable for visits to
your local farmer's market or CSA.
Regardless of their differences, I really like all kitchen
garden cookbooks. Even though it happens every year in my own
garden, I still like hearing about how the broccoli develops and
how easy it is to grow radishes and how to successfully raise corn.
When it comes to these stories about where our food comes from, I'm
no different from my 5-year-old and her bedtime books. I
could read them over and over again.