My Mom called me one Sunday morning recently and said 'There's a woman talking about chickens on my gardening show on the radio. Her name is Robin Ripley. You should get in touch with her and maybe you could talk with her about chickens.'
Well, long story short, I DID contact Robin and we DO 'talk chicken' from time to time. She's a neat lady who is a national garden columnist and speaker. She is the woman behind Eggs & Chickens, a wonderful website that sells all sorts of gardening, sewing, baking and chicken items. She writes the gardening and lifestyle blog, Bumblebee Blog, cooks, gardens, attracts birds, bees and butterflies and raises backyard chickens.
As it turns out that she is also one of the co-authors of a neat book called 'Grocery Gardening', written to help teach others how to start and maintain a garden with the focus on preparing wonderfully fresh and healthy homegrown meals. The title immediately caught my eye and I expressed an interest in reviewing the book for you all.
Robin graciously sent me two copies of the book so that I could review it - and also give away a copy to one lucky fan.
I was immediately drawn to the title: Grocery Gardening - Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Food. There is nothing better than picking a vine-ripened tomato or crisp snap peas from your own garden. But then I am sometimes at a loss as to how to prepare our fresh veggies to best highlight their natural flavors. I love the practicality of growing vegetables, fruits and herbs but knew I needed to better utilize what we grow.
As I started flipping through the book, I was engrossed not only with the beautiful photographs of fresh produce, but also the recipes that accompany each different type of fruit, vegetable and herb. The simple recipes that accompany the growing 'instructions' for each type of produce involve just a few basic ingredients, allowing the pure flavors of the freshly picked fruits and vegetables shine. And that's exactly the way it should be.
But the recipes are far from dull and uninspired. They include such mouthwatering dishes as Sugar Snap Peas with Rotini and Goat Cheese, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Thai Summer Rolls, Honeydew Mint Fizz, Concord Grape Crumble, Bodacious Tomato, Broccoli and Cheese Tart, Corn and Pepper Scallop, Watermelon Popsicles and so many more that I can't wait to try once this spring's garden is ready to harvest.
There are recipes for salads, sides and main dishes....
and breakfast and brunch items.
For someone like me who loves to plant and grow things but barely has a green thumb, this book is an invaluable resource. Quick reference right at my fingertips on how to choose a variety, how to plant it, how to maximize your windfall and how and when to harvest, then a recipe or two incorporating that vegetable or fruit makes planning and maintaining a garden a snap, and ensures that everything that I grow will be used to its fullest.
Ranging from green beans to blueberries, coriander to rhubarb and everything in between, the book is visually appealing, well organized and appears to be well-researched. The authors are esteemed in their area of expertise and each tackled the section that they 'specialize' in. Tips and fascinating factoids and comments sprinkled throughout the book range from how to plant, whether to transplant, how to nourish the growing seedlings and how to maintain the plants until they are ready to pick.
There is information on how to freeze and drying produce, as well as how to can and preserve. This is especially interesting to me because last summer we were eating tomatoes every day when all 6 of our plants decided to go into overdrive the same few weeks ! There is even a section on how to select produce if you are shopping at a farmer's market or supermarket.
There is a very helpful section on garden pests and disease in the back, along with produce and recipe indices.
I highly recommend this book if you have been contemplating planting a garden to help feed your family (or your chickens!) this summer. The book makes it easy to concentrate on just a few vegetables, or go all out and plant a wide variety, and then know how to use everything to prepare nutritious, quick, inexpensive meals for your family.
Thank to everyone who entered the contest and congratulations to the winner !
Click below to read more about Grocery Gardening or to buy a copy from amazon: