Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Book Review: Two for Vegetable Growers

Do not judge this book by its cover, well the front one at least. For once I'm showing you the back as well as it's much more representative of the overall content.

What lies inside is a charming pictorial tale of life on Caroline Deput's allotment in colour drawings. Quite a lot of the narrative is in colour too.

This is a very inventive and humorous account from 2010 through to early 2012, packed with the trials and triumphs of allotment owner 'Floss'.

Amongst the usual allotment plans, lists of things to do and harvests achieved, there are exquisitely drawn details, such as the badger who's trashed the tayberries*. I particularly enjoyed the tale of 2010 told via a snakes and ladders board and the bindweed wars cartoon, which reminded me so much of Karen's comics**.

This is a positive allotment tale, which doesn't shy away from when things go wrong. In the process of drawing Plot 19, life is depicted in a much more realistic way than most allotment manuals manage using photographs.

* = my sympathy as we have badgers on our allotment site too - ours loves sweetcorn.
** = a much missed labour of love

As hinted in its title, Grow Harvest Cook is a gardening book hybrid which covers both the growing and cooking of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. It reflects the blog of the same name which hails from Australia.

It has a bit of a retro feel as the covers are very thick board, but what lies inside is a very thorough and modern list of 90 fruits and vegetables to grow, harvest and cook from the plot.

We can't grow all of them in the UK - macadamia nuts for instance - but all of the produce is obtainable here for us to take advantage of the inventive recipes. Today I'll be using both the poached quince and paste recipes and some of the results of the former will be used to make the quince cake tomorrow :)

The produce is listed in alphabetical order, so fruit and vegetables rub shoulders with each other, along with a hefty sprinkling of herbs, nuts and the odd edible flower or two. The treatment of each is broadly the same: a brief outline of how to grow, followed by a harvest section which covers basic freezing and other ways of storage and preservation as appropriate. There are plenty of good photographs for illustration.

The cook section has at least one beautifully photographed main recipe with plenty of variations and short recipes included for good measure - 90 different crops metamorphoses into 280 recipes.

For me this book works better as a cookbook, especially for seasonal inspiration. I believe the grow and harvest sections are a bit too rudimentary to be useful, but cooks wishing to grow more of their own produce may think the opposite.

Disclosure: I received review copies of both books, but the words are my own. The links aren't affiliate ones, so I won't make a bean if you decide to click and buy.

11 comments:

  1. Funnily enough I had a quick peek at Caroline Deput's book in Waterstones last week VP and it has gone down on my Christmas pressie list. More than anything else the detailed illustrations caught my eye. Allotment life does indeed seem like a snakes and ladders game at times - what a brilliant comparison :)

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    1. Hi Anna - I had you in mind when I wrote this review :)

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  2. I like the look of the first one so have made a note of it. Flighty xx

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    1. Flighty - I think it's right up your street!

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  3. Interesting reviews, like Flighty I like the look of the first one in particular, I do enjoy inspirational allotment books. In fact I would go so far as to say I probably need inspirational allotment books and blogs to keep me going!

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  4. Yes I too like the look of the first book. Keep thinking I could write a book on our allotment tales.

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  5. I think you're right - I'd be tempted to buy the second book for the recipes rather than the 'grow' part but have just popped over to that blog to have a look round - it's both pretty and inspiring with some wonderful recipes! Thanks for the heads up!

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