by Adam Caplin
I sat up through some wee hours last night because I just couldn't put this down! New Kitchen Garden is a beautiful book highlighting herbs, vegetables and fruit. Rather than giving detailed instructions on how to garden (although it does cover some basics), this book is an enticement of visual beauty. It introduces the reader to types of produce that are not only good to eat, but also look pleasing tucked into your already-existing perennial border or flower bed. Suggestions abound on how to arrange and intermingle the plants so that they are not only next to beneficial flowers (like california poppies with zucchini), but also juxtaposed with those that make a pleasing visual contrast or display. Tips on growing plants (including fruit trees!) in limited space, recommendations of particularly tasty, hardy or pretty varieties, and a collection of scrumptious looking recipes at the end make this book a treasure. A few times I felt like some pertinent information was left out. For example, when going through the fruit trees, it clearly states why some kinds are difficult to grow, but when twice mentioning that radishes are tricky, doesn't say why.
I have to admit, I was mostly drooling over the photographs. The plants all look gorgeous, lush and healthy. The recipes look spectacular, and yet they appear simple to make, most only requiring the garden produce, fresh herbs, and some staple kitchen ingredients. New Kitchen Garden introduced me to a number of plants I'm unfamiliar with: angelica, borage, chervil, cardoon, chocolate-flavored mint! and suggested cooking them in ways new to me: asparagus flan, lettuce soup (the leaves pureed), pumpkin-cilantro curry. I just tried the lavender scones, pleased to find a recipe for this plant that has so far remained untouched in my garden (I'm not big on tea, nor interested in making potpourri, and didn't know what else to do with it). The scones are delicious. This evening I'm going to try the roasted zucchini recipe, too.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 143 pages