A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Recipes from a Kitchen Garden, and its sequel More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden, offer simple and easy recipes packed with flavor for cooks who enjoy using fresh produce, whether from their own gardens or from the farmers’ market or grocery. Here are recipes for appetizers, soups, meat and poultry dishes, breads, salads – just about everything!
What is special about these cookbooks?
I first encountered these recipes when author Renee Shepherd, a dedicated gardener, owned the Shepherd Seed Company. The mail-order seed catalogs would have recipes interspersed among the seed descriptions, which were then compiled into books also available through the catalog. Eventually Renee Shepherd sold her seed company, but she later started another one called Renee’s Garden. Her specialty garden seeds can still be found in many garden centers, and her website http://www.reneesgarden.com offers gardening tips, recipes, and of course her seeds and cookbooks. The recipes reflect her dedication to both variety and excellent flavor in her seed selections and in her cooking.
Are these cookbooks easy to use?
Yes. The recipes in these books are arranged alphabetically by vegetable type, which makes it especially easy to find just the right recipe when your countertops are covered with tomatoes, or you’ve just brought home that intriguing stalk of brussels sprouts from the farmers market. And it’s not just vegetables: there are also recipes for using strawberries, raspberries, melons, herbs, and even edible flowers – anything that the home gardener might be growing.
Each recipe has a comment at the top, often telling you what to serve with the dish. They run the gamut of international cuisines, including Mediterranean, Asian, Basque, Middle Eastern, Italian, Hungarian and East Indian, among others. Every recipe uses unprocessed ingredients, though of course you can substitute if you’re cooking in the dead of winter. As a result, each of these delicious recipes tastes as fresh as summer.
What are your favorite recipes from these cookbooks?
One of my favorites is Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Herbs and Garlic Sauce. This sauce is not cooked; rather it is made up of ingredients that are chopped and combined, then allowed to stand at room temperature for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. The smell is heavenly, the essence of summer. I make the first batch as soon as our garden tomatoes start to ripen, and continue making it as often as possible until the garden dies out in the late fall. Other delicious favorites include Green Beans in Basil-Walnut Vinaigrette, and Baby Carrots with Ginger and Sage Butter. The stains on my personal copies of these books are testimony that they are the most used books in my kitchen!
Review by Nancy