Despite having a small apartment patio which limited my gardening area, I used to grow quite a few things that later wound up boiling, simmering and on occasion, burning, on the stove. These days I can’t do either, but I still review the books for my monthly column in the newspaper SENIOR NEWS. 

 

Thanks to the recent push the last couple of years towards growing food locally, there has been a rash of cookbooks and gardening books devoted to the subject. Whether this type of deal is going to be meaningfully sustained for years to come or flame out in a few months like most fads do remains to be seen. In the meantime, P. Allen Smith’s latest book is part of that movement

 

This 256 colorful page book is organized into four sections named for the seasons of the year. After a short introduction that covers how the book is organized, how the recipes were considered and other information. The book starts off with “SPRING” on page 14. Since section headers, recipes titles, etc. are displayed in all caps, this review will follow the book’s format.

 

The “SPRING” section opens with “STARTERS” such as “STRAWBERRY LEMONADE” (pages 16-17), “GREEK SALAD” (page 18) or “SMOKED BLUE CAT PATE” (page 20) made from catfish among other recipes. “SOUPS AND SANWICHES” follows in the section and opens with “GRILLED SALMON SANDWICH WITH LEMON-DILL MAYO on pages 26-27. Several more suggestions follow before the section moves into “SALADS” such as “POACHED EGG AND SPINIACH SALAD” (pages 30 -32) among others. Also present are various dressings one can make instead of buying something at the store.

 

“MAIN DISHES” comes next in the “SPRING” section and starts off with a recipe for “BLACK BEAN AND SPINIACH BURRITOS” on pages 40 and 41. That leads into “GRILLED PORK CHOPS IN ZUCCHINI AND PEPPERS” on pages 42-43, “CRAWFISH (OR SHRIMP) ETOUFFEE” on pages 45-46 and others. If you have a main dish, you need “VEGTABLES AND SIDES” and that comes next and opens with “RADISH TOP PASTA” on pages 50-51 before moving on to “GINGER-SESAME STIR-FRIED ASPARAGUS” on pages 52-53. Personally, I am not sure enough of anything could be done to make asparagus edible enough for me to eat it.

 

A couple more vegetable recipes lead the reader to “BREAD AND SUCH” starting on page 59. Of course, there is a french toast recipe. This one is on pages 60-61 and titled “PINEAPPLE –ORANGE FRENCH TOAST” and uses your oven for the cooking process after you soak your bread in his concoction. There are a couple of other recipes in this section but it is one of the shorter deals in the book.

 

“DESSERTS” are also covered and start with “BANANA DELIGHT” on pages 64-65. It features the required bananas, pie crust, cream cheese pudding, coconut and pecans among other items. Several other dessert recipes bring this section to a close.

 

Each recipe features simple instructions, an ingredient list, and the number of servings it makes. Most recipes also come with tips on making the item or growing the ingredient(s) needed along with a colorful picture of the finished item either by itself or at a lavishly decorated table clustered with several more versions of the same dish. This same format is followed in terms of opening with “STARTERS” and progressing through “SOUPS AND SANDWICHES” etc., followed through the remainder of the book in the seasonal sections titled “SUMMER,” “FALL,” and “WINTER.”

 

Growing your own vegetables and hers is a key point in the book and sometimes that creates recipes that are absent meat and rely on cheeses for protein. One such way is in “THE GARDEN SANDWICH” on pages 88-89 where bread, herbs and salad items, goat cheese and a couple of other things combine together to make one heck of a sandwich. Fresh herbs, greens and vegetables are a key ingredient in nearly every dish and are presented in many different ways to please the most finicky eater throughout the book.

 

While recipes are located in specific sections dishes such as “RUBBED BEEF TENDERLOIN” (pages 213-214) among others would work any time of year. After 242 pages of often mouthwatering recipes, the book moves into the “RESOURCES.”

 

Here P. Allen Smith opens the “RESOURCES” on page 242 with specific instructions regarding growing your own produce in three 8 foot by 8 foot beds. While specific plans are not drawn out for you, there is plenty of information on what to grow and how to grow it and contains lists of specific plants. This section is written from the novice stand point and may be of little interest to the experienced gardener other than the fact he shares some information on how he handled specific situations. He also provides tips on what to plant depending during the seasons though you would need to do your own research as he points out on your local growing situation. These helpful tips end with some suggestions for those of us with limited space and/or readers with short growing seasons. There is also some general information on how to keep weeds and critters at bay before a three pages index brings this helpful book to a close.

 

Overall, the book is well done and presents well despite a complete lack of nutritional information. Like many cookbooks published recently, the “obesity epidemic” is completely ignored as no nutritional of any type is provided. Something that is rather surprising since the author has spoken out on the subject on his television show and other forums.

 

Despite that issue, the cookbook is a visual treat and well done overall. It features lots of information, plenty of recipes, and multiple ideas for your entertaining pleasure making sure something in here should suit everyone.

 

 

P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes From The Garden: A P. Allen Smith GARDEN HOME COOKBOOK

P. ALLEN SMITH

http://wwwpallensmith.com

BEN FINK, Photographer

http://www.benfinkphoto.com/

Clarkson Potter/Publishers (Crown Publishing Group/Random House)

http://www.clarksonpotter.com

December, 2010

ISBN# 978-0-307-35108-1

256 Pages

Hardback

$32.50

 

 

Material supplied by the Plano Public Library System.

 

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

 

More reviews at http://kevintipplescorner.blogspot.com/

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