Beets, what do you do about a vegetable like BEETS? Answer, grab a copy of Janet Ballantyne’s “Joy of Gardening Cookbook” (10th Anniversary Edition). Glad I stumbled across this book, it is excellent for turning vegetables into wholesome food that allows one to taste the essence of the vegetable. The recipes are reliable and uncomplicated, if you want gourmet recipes, this ain’t the book. Then again there are some inventive and tasty little gems here.
There are no exotic vegetables covered in the book (e.g Jeruselum Artichoke, Artichoke, Rabi), which would be great for Asian or Latin American veggies that are so the fashion now. However, there are basic recipes that are written to encourage one to use them with any veggie in the garden (i.e vegetable cream or essence soups). So if you have a Kolrabi, just adapt one of the basic, Greens, or Brassicaceae recipes. Also, peppered throughout the book are some gardening, harvest, and kitchen technique tips.
I have been collecting cook books for two decades, and this is a great book for anybody with a farm share, a big garden, or a yen to learn to make vegetables more palatable. This book is in the category of cookbooks that teach you to cook, not just cook a recipe. This book won’t win Iron Chef, but will make veggies more interesting at the next family dinner or potluck. Also, the recipes are adaptable so a green bean pate recipe can be changed to make a combination of flavors with blanched green beans & onion with a zesty sauce. If one has some skills, then adapt the flavors of one combination and present the taste in a new form. Remember, the quality of the vegetables is key, thus garbage in, garbage out, fresh wholesome veggies in, fresh zesty flavor sensation out.
One thing this book teaches the reader it managing you inventory as it ages. A squash picked withing the last couple days can just be steamed, later one might sauté it. A week later use it in a casserole, but once it is a little old what do you do with it? Well, make a soup out of it. These are the hint and tips that add value to this book. The planning and improvising spirit that we often lack in the kitchen.
Finally, the recipes are mostly easy to execute. Janet Ballantyne is an educator, and knows how to present recipes in a fool proof fashion. Go ahead and get this book so you can enjoy your garden fresh veggies more.
Also, Desserts from the Garden this looks very interesting.