Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Kitchen Garden Companion

As a keen amateur kitchen gardener, this is the sort of book that I couldn't pass by, so when I was offered the chance of a review copy, the excitement got the better of me and I fired off my response and eagerly awaited its arrival.
I think the postman's arm was aching while he was waiting for me to answer the door – it's a BIG book. Well over 700 pages bound into a spine measuring about two inches thick, with a rather attractive tactile cloth dust jacket, the book is packed with a wealth of gardening information aimed at people just like me. The advice and tips show us how it is possible to grow a multitude of edibles in a small space, an inspiration to all plot-to-plate enthusiasts.

The author, Stephanie Alexander, ran the acclaimed Stephanie's Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia and was a partner in the popular Richmond Hill Café & Larder and together with this experience is one of Australia's most highly regarded food writers. Her expertise runs throughout the book in an informative style with easy to follow gardening advice and related recipes.

Vegetable gardening is an ongoing learning process for me, I've had successes and of course failures. Some of those reluctant or pest besieged crops have even put me off growing them again, but after reading through the pages,
I suddenly felt inspired with renewed confidence, to have another go.
The front section, Getting Started, guides you through the stages of setting up the best environment to get the most from your produce patch. All the basics are there, from creating perfect compost to when to sow and plant out, bug control and there's even a list of useful gardening equipment.

There's nothing nicer than picking your own home grown fruit and veg then eating it right away and each of Stephanie's chosen crops is given a selection of recipes to enjoy your own efforts in the best possible way.
This section is compiled in A-Z format from Amaranth to Zucchini, although I think I would have preferred it to have been listed by seasonality, it just makes more sense to me.

From the simplest Smashed Broad Beans (p.160) to the sumptuous Tony Tan's Beef and Spinach Curry (p.592) all the recipes are uncomplicated in their approach, but most of all they kindle a passion to grow and cook.

I particularly like the fact that families are encouraged to motivate their children into becoming involved in both the kitchen and the garden. Stephanie's philosophy is that there is no such thing as special food for children: if food is good, everyone will enjoy it regardless of age. Following her work with inner-city primary school children, where she set up a kitchen garden to give them the opportunity to learn about food first hand, she continues her work in her book.

Despite its slightly unwieldy size, this book will become
well-thumbed and never left on the shelf as it's set to become my trusty kitchen garden partner.

Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander is published by Quadrille.
Hardback RRP £30.00
Order yours now

Book kindly supplied by Quadrille Publishing


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