The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.
- Alice B. Toklas
As I began to harvest my veg garden in late spring, I was looking for new ways to enjoy the harvest. Of course we eat a lot right away in salad or raw as a snack, but there were some bigger better harvests this year especially with beets, carrots and swiss chard which I had not grown before.
You can see some of the chard in the photo above. And I wrote about it in a post dedicated to the veg garden so far this year. But I had chard coming out of my ears and it was huge. In some cases the leaves were over a foot long. We sautéed it alone and with other veggies and even put it in a frittata. I gave some away and pulled all put two bunches I had cut down. Incidentally, they are growing back so we will have more chard unless Alice our willful roaming deer likes chard too.
But I was looking for more recipes so I pulled out a garden book I had on the shelves that I had not read yet….sadly I have many as I love to buy them and run out of time to read them. I was intrigued by the recipes and the way the book was laid out so I thought it would make a great book to review….and I found a great soup recipe for the chard which I will share.
Author: Ellen Ecker Ogden
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang (March 1, 2011)
Amazon Price: $19.13 (Paperback)
In A Few Words
This unique book is divided into two sections: The intro which includes how to start a kitchen garden and the kitchen garden designs and recipes. There are 14 separate designs with various veggies highlighted and over 100 recipes.
In the intro the author takes you through all you need to know to get started from soil to compost, seeds, micronutrients, maintenance, fences/boundaries, tools and style. All important aspects before you start so you can adequately plan your kitchen garden. I started with one bed and have had to increase to 5 trying to fit them in as I had no plan when I started.
Each garden theme has its own chapter. The chapter begins with an introduction to the theme/design concept, tips for growing this type of garden, a drawing of the design with the plants laid out, then a numbered black and white plan with each of the veggies placed in the garden. They also include the border which could be fences or shrubs or even other veggies. Lots of photos of the gardens are included as well as several of the veggies in the garden plan highlighted with growing info. Then the recipes follow that use many of the veggies growing in this particular design.
At the end of the book are several resources: basics of design, preserving the bounty, a recipe index and a plant index.
What I Liked
I liked the idea of different designs for veg/kitchen gardens with recipes. I love the way you can have a garden that not only tastes good but looks good while its growing. And there are many ideas on how to lay out the beds for maximum space usage. Some of the great garden theme/ideas include Salad Lover’s, Cook’s, Culinary Herb, Children’s, Patio, Heirloom Maze, Chef’s and Artist’s to name a few.
One of my favorite theme names is the Paint Box Garden which is a raised bed garden much like mine in concept but not design. They bordered this garden with Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard and other bigger veggies. The info about the veggies highlighted was fascinating and I learned about some different veggies to try.
But my favorite part is the recipes. There are recipes for soups, salads, main course dishes, desserts, condiments and garnishes to give the recipe a new twist. Lots of different ideas, and I can never have enough recipes especially for all the Swiss chard we just harvested. I used quite a bit in their Rainbow Chard Soup with Rosemary. It was so easy to make and so delicious for summer. I even made my own gluten free croutons, that were part of the recipe, and they gave the soup a nice crunch.
And I found a design for a Garnish Garden in the book that has loads of edible flowers. Can’t wait to see how I can incorporate more of these into my potager.
Not So Much
This book is not for those looking for specifics on how to plant and harvest many different veggies. While there is cursory info about many veggies, if you are a beginner you will need a more detailed reference on how to deal with growing and harvesting each specific veggie you want to grow. But I do find the book a great inspiration with a plethora of ideas for growing a kitchen garden and utilizing the harvest.
If you have a desire to start your own veg garden or you want to give yours a facelift, this is the perfect book to find lots of design ideas. I plan to mix and match some of the designs as I look to spiff up my veg garden. And if you want to find lots of delicious new innovative recipes while ogling gorgeous pictures of kitchen gardens, then this is a great recipe book to add to your collection.
I am bookmarking many I want to try like: Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce and Arugula Pesto with Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi. Can’t wait for those tomatoes to ripen and the second flush of arugula to start growing. I am going to have lots of fun cooking my way through this book as I work on my kitchen garden redesign.
Do you grow a vegetable garden? What is your favorite vegetable to grow or a favorite recipe you can’t wait to make each summer?
Sooner or later, anyone who claims to be a gardener (or Italian) has to grow his own fresh, vine-ripened summer tomatoes. Resistance is futile… ~Mike McGrath
Visit my new blog:
I wanted to thank all the wonderful people who visited me last Thursday for the inaugural post of my new blog, Living From Happiness. It is a blog to celebrate life, lessons, change, challenges and creativity.
I do hope you will join me there.
There will be a new post again this Thursday.
Next up on the blog: Monday brings the end of the month Garden Journal with another vase utilizing what is currently growing in the garden. Next Wednesday, I will have another Tree Following post.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
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