8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I Do the Speed Limit
- Published on Amazon.com
Familiar with Susie Middleton's previous books? You are in for a surprise with this one! The teaching lessons are over--at least for vegetables. In this book Ms. Middleton puts all her vegetable experience together--with all the flavor pairings and techniques that you learned in those first two books--and shows us how she now grows those veggies and prepares them for her family at a tiny, old farmhouse (with acreage) in Martha's Vineyard. If you read this book early in the year, you'll be wishing your garden to hurry up and get growing!
Did you come to this review wondering how this book differs from the other two? This third book teaches more about leading a satisfying lifestyle through gardening and, through her recipes, working with whatever you might find that day in your garden. If you are already armed with her previous books, the recipes in this book will come naturally to you. They will move you!
The recipes in this book are stellar. I will want to try them all, even though many are just variations on recipes that come naturally to an experienced cook with a vegetable garden in the back yard. There are about ten recipes in here that I've already tried with variations because of the season, (see my disclosure at the end this review), and want to keep and use throughout the growing year. There are many, many simple recipes that are take-offs on what she's taught us in her previous books, common-sense pairings based on what you might have picked from your garden that day, and variations of recipes that you've run across before and are already in your repertoire.
This book contains beautiful and colorful photography, a blog-type running commentary on all the antics of starting a garden and setting up and running a front yard vegetable stand, plus the recipes. The fact that blocks of the story run alongside the recipes, ...and blocks of comments on the recipes, ...and pictures of the vegetables, the garden, the stand, ...and the finished dishes ...and Ms. Susie (in the same set of clothing again and again and again...) is overwhelming. For me, it is way too much a mish-mash and hard to follow. While, I appreciate each of these elements separately, together on one page it is more than frustrating. (That's why I wanted to ding my rating one star, but didn't. Because this type of layout bothers me, it may not bother you.) Maybe you keep up with her blog and can pass over the story for your first run-through of the cookbook, but I found I wanted to read the story and the recipes at the same time. And, that did not help me retain recipe information as I proceeded through the book.
Just a little insight into what transpired since her second cookbook: Ms. Middleton is way happy with having dumped the city life and moved out to the country with her new husband. She considers it a great move and is thrilled with growing things and wants to spread the word. I completely understand: So many of us have been there, done that. Her stories sound very familiar and the quaintness is enviable for those stuck in the city.
Personally, I'm all for growing your own vegetables and raising chickens for eggs. We've been doing it for years on an acre of land. We live in a rural community in a century-old house. The novelty never wears off and the craziness of farm stand antics is never-ending and provides a lot of stories and memories. So, I think my issue with this cookbook is just how everything is so jumbled together and nothing more. If you're just getting out of town and into vegetable gardening, this might be a perfect book for you.
Her first two The Fresh & Green Table: Delicious Ideas for Bringing Vegetables into Every Meal and Fast, Fresh & Green contain a wealth of information on how to make the most of a multitude of vegetables. Almost like reference books, those books not only contain recipes, but techniques and suggestions and tips.
YOU CAN STOP READING HERE as I think I've covered the basics. But keep on reading for more info if you are still undecided about this book.
So, let me mention a few recipes from the book in an effort to help you decide if this is a book you want to own:
--A majority of the recipes involve fresh un-cooked greens. There are many salads with a little of this green and a little of that green. Ms. Middleton firmly believes in baby bok choy. So do I. One of my favorite from the book is a stir-fry of bok choy with a lemon sauce: Simple with sugar, soy sauce, lemon, garlic, cornstarch and peanut oil. Another is Grill Roasted Baby Bok Choy and Creminis With Garlic-Chile-Lime Oil and Spaghetti. It all comes together in a grill basket; so simple, with clean tastes.
--One of my favorite dishes in the book is Swiss Chard (all colors), Fresh Peas With Ham and Maple-Balsamic Sauce.
--We love radishes at our house, and they are so easy to grow. We eat them all the time, but never thought to serve with a dressing of crystallized ginger, lemon, OJ and peanut oil: May Day Radish and Parsley Salad.
--Love the colorful southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Farm Stand Veggies. It has quite a long list of ingredients, but it all comes together easily.
--Also love the roasted beets with cranberries, pecans and balsamic butter.
--Another really fantastic recipe is the Roast Parmesan-Crusted Cod with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions and Thyme. It all comes together in one roasting pan and she has "hit the nail on the head" perfectly with her combination and quantities of flavorings. She does a similar one-pan roasted dish with chicken and Fall vegetables.
--There is a very nice recipe combining shrimp, chorizo, white beans, kale, fennel, tomato, onion, peppers and more, then served over rice.
--Then there are some recipes that don't have much to do with vegetables: Pan-Pacific Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Fried Rice and Toasted Coconut, for instance. It is only the fried rice that contains peppers, scallions, eggplant, corn and onion.
--There is terribly un-authentic paella that is loaded with veggies. It is not a bad recipe, but to call it paella is almost sinful...
--There are some very simple recipes: Basil processed with mayo; a salsa with serranos, cilantro and lime; a gazpacho with grill-roasted veggies; a tomato-basil salad with different colored tomatoes; steak fajitas with grill-roasted peppers and onions.
-- There are also some egg recipes and some dessert recipes, mostly using berries or pears.
At the end of the book are plans for a farm stand, raised beds and a chicken coop (courtesy of her carpenter husband). The index is adequate and also lists the recipes by type of dish.
Recipes are arranged not so much by the four seasons, but by the growing season of her garden. She has not tackled a true winter garden yet, so some veggies are missing.
*This review is being posted on the day it was released to the public. Many months ago, I received a temporary download of a preliminary copy of this book from the publishers, through NetGalley. I have been working with the recipes in this book for several months now.