I Need a New Cookbook

This is the time of year when I remember what it really feels like to eat seasonally out of the garden.  It’s a roller coaster!

First, there’s the anticipation.  We gardeners wait–seemingly forever–for that blossom to turn into a blueberry or strawberry or raspberry.  There is joy when it finally looks like an actual food, but then we wait interminably for that fruit to ripen.  And then suddenly, the first two are ready.  And they taste SOOOO good.  The burst flavour that hasn’t been tasted in a year, the memories that come flooding back.  There’s nothing like the taste of a season beginning.

And then the crop starts to ripen en masse.  At first there’s a gorging, a true sense of abundance.  We eat everything raw, or just lightly steamed, usually with butter, sometimes with a little herb or lemon or olives for extra flavour.  But then, the combination of the day starts to feel stale.  How many ways can I eat broccoli, peas, and cabbage?

And I start reaching for my cookbooks.  And there are always a few good recipes.  But then I feel dissatisfied by the books.  Sure, a recipe might feature broccoli, but it also calls for peppers or squash.  Or something else that I would have to go to the store to buy or that isn’t in season.  Or it’s a recipe for a really traditional slow food recipe that takes hours to prepare.  It’s July!  I don’t want to cook or spend time in the kitchen!

So here’s what I need.

I need a big, fat cookbook.  One that focuses exclusively on eating out of a realistic garden year round.  One that uses ONLY ingredients that are available at the same time, with a few other staples (rice, pasta, eggs etc) that would realistically be in an ordinary pantry.  AND it needs to have 10-15 recipes for each vegetable that is easy to produce in the garden! I mean, we’ve got weeks of cabbage left before the beans and tomatoes kick in!  I’m looking for a helpmate and handbook to truly eating out of the garden all year.

There are a spate of “farm to table” cookbooks out there.  But so far, the ones I’ve looked at feature all of about 6 recipes per season!  And those recipes are either complicated and not for everyday quick dinners, or they are really basic (tomato sauce? Really?), or they are for how to preserve a bounteous ingredient.

I need a book that gives me ideas, pictures, inspiration, realism, and ease.  Families are busy, adults are working full-time jobs, and the garden is the passion that takes up the rest of the hours of the day.  But at the same time, we’re doing this for the food!  It’s a joy and a privilege and needs to be celebrated.  Ideally in 30 minutes or less. 🙂

So what do you think?  Does this book exist?  Please tell me it does!

Giving away the harvest: Care package for friends--broccoli, cabbage, kale, beet greens, snow peas, and early potatoes
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10 thoughts on “I Need a New Cookbook

  1. Your produce looks amazing! Lucky friends, to get such a care package!

    I have had exactly the same experience with cookbooks – the recipes using the in-season ingredient also call for too many out-of-season ones. Maybe we need to write one ourselves!

    My response to the glut has been to preserve the excess, but often that means too much sugar or salt (if I using the canning approach), too much electricity (if I freeze), or too much sacrifice of texture and flavour (if I dehydrate).

  2. Miriam, I’m still on the fence about preserving. Tomatoes are a no-brainer, of course, and I am hoping to try my hand at saurkraut, which I love. But if I’m going to be growing a fall crop of spinach, broccoli and cabbage, do I really need to preserve them now? Next year’s lesson is probably to always preserve the excess for when the next crop fails–I’ve probably jinxed myself! 🙂

    Were that I capable of writing such a book! The book part is no problem, and I love to cook. But the coming up with recipes, scientifically recording and testing recipes? Definitely not for me. But if there are any chefs out there who want to collaborate…

  3. I’ve been using Simply in Season recently, although I’m not sure it’s got enough in it to be useful (it’s not a very big book). It’s broken down by season, and the in season veggies are listed down the side of the page with what’s in each recipe highlighted.Each recipe has at least one thing that’s in season, and sometimes more, although multiple veggies in one recipe isn’t as common as I’d like it to be. That said, the recipes are pretty straightforward and fairly quick, and the other ingredients are pretty common. Might be worth checking out from the library, though.

  4. Marian Morash’s Victory Garden Cookbook might be worth checking out – though I found it’s a lot of the same recipe with different vegetables. “Slice X and cover with cream; bake.”

    I also love the Time-Life “Great Taste, Low Fat: Vegetables” cookbook. It’s not a “great thick” book but every recipe is a winner, and you can simply substitute the vegetables you have on hand in most of the recipes.

  5. Thanks Emily. I have seen the Victory Garden book, but it did seem a little 80s gourmet 🙂 with more old-fashioned recipes. Is there a difference between old-fashioned and traditional?! 🙂 I’ll see if I can track down the TIme-Life one–wouldn’t have thought of them. Thanks for the suggestions!

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