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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion

If you have ever dreamed of picking fresh salad leaves for the evening meal, gathering vine-ripened tomatoes or pulling up your own sweet carrots, this is the book for you. Follow in the footsteps of a much loved cook and food writer as she reveals the secrets of rewarding kitchen gardening. Be encouraged by detailed gardening notes that explain how adults and children alike can plant, grow and harvest over 70 different vegetables, herbs and fruit, and try some of the 250 recipes that will transform your fresh produce into delicious meals. Families can learn together with this book, which is, in part, a result of Alexander's work in establishing kitchen gardens in primary schools. Her idea is that children who know how to grow and cook their own food will have an interest in healthy, fresh food for their entire lives. Whether you have a few pots on a balcony or a large plot in a suburban back garden you will find everything you need to get started in this inspiring and eminently useful garden-to-table guide.

This is one big book - it has nearly 750 pages but each page is full of either high quality photography or crammed full of useful information, hints and tips. When my postman bought me the parcel I opened it immediately and was wowed by the gorgeous tactile cover - it reminds me of tradition hessian sacks and is over stitched - a beautiful and unusual book to adorn any kitchen or book shelves.

The book starts with some great sections on getting started and equipment needed in both the garden and kitchen. There is a list of basic equipment along with ideas for further additions to your tool kits if desired. There is also a useful section on both gardening and cooking with children. The author, Stephanie Alexander, has worked in her native Australia to establish kitchen gardens in Australia's primary school and passes on some of her finds to her readers in this section.

The rest of the book is dedicated to Ingredients - in alphabetical order Stephanie details 3 different vegetables, herbs and foods and also includes about 250 recipes which uses these ingredients. On looking through the book there were several ingredients I have never heard of; Amaranth, a leafy vegetable and Myrtle, a shrub, to name but two. Each ingredient has a comprehensive section of its own, including a full page, colour photograph, information with regards to growing it, including soil type, climate, position, water requirements, details how to grow, harvest periods and quantities to plant for a family of four (a very useful section). There are also instructions on growing and harvesting, container planting, because Stephanie is known for advising on gardening in large backyards, in pots on balconies and everything in between. She then discusses preparing and sharing the ingredients when it reaches the kitchen and tips especially for children growing the ingredients. Recipes containing the ingredient follow before the next ingredient is introduced. There are not photographs for every recipe, however there are lots of photographs in the book and they are of a very high quality. The recipes all appear to be straightfoward and look to be good family food ideas.

I would recommend this book as a great gift for both gardeners and cooks and would be loved by all who receive it. It will be a book that will be a resource for many years to come and one which will be frequently delved into. I know my husband has his eye on this book and is looking forward to looking at it in detail.

Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it.

    Kitchen garden