Grow It Cook It by Sally Cameron
Get the lowdown on growing your own
By Kerry Scambler
Pick and plunder - Sally Cameron encourages us to get our hands dirty, enjoy the soil and sunshine then feel some smug satisfaction in dishing up delicious meals using our own fresh produce.
Whether you've got acres to spare, the usual city block or perhaps renting an apartment with a balcony, the move is on to grow some of your own produce. There are so many benefits including financial, health and environmental - think of how few food miles from your garden to the plate!
Grow It Cook It combines gardening and cooking with 355 recipes and 30 varieties of vegetable, fruit and herbs. It brings home the point that growing your own and presenting those fresh vegetables to your family can bring immense feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Although this book is from New Zealand, it's equally applicable to Australian conditions.
The plants in this book were selected as they are easy to grow for those who are wondering where to start with all this dirt and plant life. You don't have to rotary hoe the lawn just yet, Sally's advice is to start small - a pot here, a lemon tree there, a window box with herbs and before you know it you'll be dishing up plump peas, baby spring carrots and juicy strawberries. The amazing thing you'll discover is that home-grown fruit might not always be as perfect as shop-bought ones but they are almost guaranteed to taste a whole lot better.
The book starts with gardeners notes, cooking notes and a section called 'Child's Play' - reinforcing the importance of getting children involved in the growing and cooking of food. Then each variety has growing notes, picking and storing, culinary uses, cooks tips (most important under the chilli section) and recipes, including some "quick picks" - quick, easy recipes to get you going. The recipes have all been designed to be simple, accessible and achievable and Sally encourages us to experiment with the various flavours when we feel adventurous enough.
Of course, sometimes we don't have enough confidence in our green thumbs and over-plant a crop only to end up with an abudance of food you just can't consume, even by giving away. Grow It Cook It provides some wonderful tips and ideas on storing and preserving as well.
Edible flowers are a great inclusion as I can now prove to my own budding Peter Cundall there is a reason for flowers like nasturtiums sharing our vegie cage - they're not just there to provide some colour.
Grow It Cook It is an easy to follow book, written in simple language and certainly one of the quickest in my collection to acquire numerous coloured sticky notes denoting further reading and kitchen experimentation is needed.
And of course, whether you enjoy the fruits of your labours fresh or preserved during the winter months, you always know what's gone into the food, where it came from and get that feeling of satisfaction that comes from growing your own and doing your bit for your budget, your family and the planet.
Grow It Cook It is published by Penguin (NZ) - RRP A$39.95.
VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive subscribers and Members can buy Grow It Cook It from our book partners Seekbooks at 12.5% discount (plus postage).
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