Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spring Dreaming & Local Eating: Book Ideas

Book Recommendations Local Eating
It's rare that I buy a book. As you'll recall, we sold off a huge number of books and are dedicated library patrons. For you long time readers you'll know that I positively love Molly Wizenberg's (of the blog Orangette) book A Homemade Life ... and yet, I only just bought my own copy a week ago, this is how dedicated I am to not wasting, to enjoying and savoring every book in my collection.

Book Recommendations Local Eating2

Funny enough the books that happen to stick around and populate my library often have something to do with food - usually local eating and often gardening. Perhaps because my thumb is only partially green and I need all the help I can get, or perhaps because I do so adore great food – regardless they are books that I come back to time and time again.

As winter wears on I find myself planning the garden and thinking about great, fresh, local vegetables again. A peek through some of my favorite books leaves me inspired and ready to face another imminently cold day.

Deeply Rooted

Deeply Rooted, by Lisa M. Hamilton, is more a novel than a reference. It's a exploration of three farmers facing off with modern agricultural business models - and yet it isn't preachy, or guilt-ridden. Deeply Rooted is engaging, at times delightful, informative, and, as so desirable but often lacking, leaves you wanting more. 

How to Buy (or not buy) Organic Inside

Conversely, but in a (mostly) non-confrontational and audience embracing manner, To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food, by Cindy Burke is the primer I recommend for everyone starting to delve into more conscientious eating. The first section of the book, in particular, detailing lists of best foods to buy organic and why, is a good introduction, reminder and reference.

How To Pick a Peach Inside

How to Pick a Peach: The Search For Flavor From Farm to Table, by Russ Parsons is an encyclopedia of sorts. Laid out as a reference manual, the book details the most popular crops by season, then describes how to choose, store, and prepare each fruit or vegetable, ending with a few simple recipes highlighting the flavor or each food.

For less information but a more extensive collection of foods consider The Produce Bible, highlighted below.

The Produce Bible Inside
The Produce Bible, a full color mega-reference by Leanne Kitchen discusses just about every fruit or vegetable you can dream up. While the depth of the information about each is not as in-depth as in How To Pick A Peach, it covers all manner of rare and obscure vegetation you might run across. For the beautiful imagery, recipes, discussion of selection, storage and preparation is is worth a read - or at least a check-out at the local library.

Local Flavors Inside

Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers' Markets, by Deborah Madison, quickly became a favorite when I checked it out of the library last summer. Covering not just vegetables and fruit but also eggs, cheese, foods that keep and a chapter just on "basics" (stock, pizza dough, tomato sauce, and the like), it's amazingly compact book for so much information. It's punctuated by sidebars and interlude pages that discuss various farmers' markets and informational highlights. Local Flavors is as useful as it is delicious - I haven't found a recipe we didn't enjoy.

Seed to See Inside

Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth is pure, hardcore information - more so than I can almost handle at times - about how to save seeds, where to plant, harvest, and every detail you could never have though you would need about down in the dirt true gardening/farming. While most know it as the definitive seed guide it is accessible for all levels of growers - and absolutely bursting with information. After finally getting my copy from the library I tagged each page I wanted to copy regarding something we were growing - then I put the book down only to realize I had marked far more pages than could be worth copying - I ordered my own copy and haven't looked back since.

What are some of you absolute must have books about food or gardening? Have you read any of these?


Brandi said...

Tricia, I love you! I've been looking for some good foodie books -- these are all going on my list! Right now I'm in the middle of Stuffed & Starved which, while informative, is a bit depressing also. I need something that makes me smile.

Melissa said...

I get a kick out of the whole local food thing because I have lived smack in the middle of the suburbs of a big city nearly my whole life and we've always grown our own food. I never understood how other kids didn't love veggies until the first year we didn't harvest enough peas and my mom had to buy frozen supermarket ones.

You should move to Vancouver - we have a farmer's market all year round ;)

And here is a great book from these parts (they did a tv show as well, chronicling several local families who did the 100 Mile Challenge)


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so with you on this one. I have three library books sitting beside me right now. Check out an earlier post I wrote about a book that is right up your ally: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Awesome book.
Here's the the link: http://wp.me/p11jly-f5
:-) Lisa