Here are a few resources — both about cooking produce from your garden and tips on growing — that help you eat well from your kitchen garden. I’ll update and amend it as the growing season progresses.
Here are my five favorite cookbooks for cooking the huge variety of garden-fresh vegetables and herbs in my kitchen garden.
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. Alice Waters. 2007. Waters’ recipes are simple and time-tested, capturing the essential flavors of all ingredients. She collects recipes, many from southern Europe, that use the very herbs and vegetables growing in the garden for dishes that grace any table with excellent fare.
The produce bible: essential ingredients information and more than 200 recipes for fruits, vegetables, herbs & nuts. Leanne Kitchen. 2006 — This cookbook gives a history of each fruit or vegetable which is always interesting. It has quite unusual and flavorful recipes.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. Mark Bittman. 2007 — An essential bible for vegetarian cooking, it is a valuable resource for any kitchen gardener because there’s so many recipes for each vegetable, however unusual or obscure. Also, Bittman offers variations for recipes that allow you to substitute as things come and go out of season in your garden. Indispensible.
Deborah Madison’s cookbooks are excellent too. For a kitchen gardener, I recommend:
Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets. Deborah Madison. Broadway Books. 2002.
Madison has combined wonderful recipes with mouth-watering photographs to help you cook and enjoy what is in season in your garden or at the farmers’ market.
Moro East by Sam[antha] and Sam Clark. This cookbook comes from chefs Sam and Sam Clark who run a chic Moroccan restaurant in London. The recipes, however, come from their fellow gardeners, mostly Turks and Kurds, in an allotment/community garden that was demolished to build a stadium for the upcoming Olympics. The recipes are practical, exotic and delicious, esp. the marinades and salads.
Also the New York Times Recipes for Health is a great resource.
May 2015: I am updating and adding favorites for preserving what I grow. Check back very soon. There are many good books and websites available with recipes and tips on pickling, shrubs, fermentation, etc. You’re always welcome to share your own favorites!
Growing hyperlocal, hyperfresh in your own kitchen garden
Brion Keagle in Garden Imperative: Why you need to plant a vegetable garden this year and how to do it (Wordclay, 2009) covers all aspects of growing your own food. This manifesto of food independence tells you how to compost, when to plant, explores garden economics, nutrition and physical health, sustainability, the emotional and spiritual wellbeing that comes from growing your own food, among other topics. There’s much wisdom as well as special tips and tricks about gardening not found in any other gardening book. Keagle touts the politics and personal freedom of eating healthy and well from your own food garden. A must read for foodies and gardeners. Keagle continues the discussion at his blog.
Vegetable wizard Steve Albert’s Harvest to Table fast became a reliable, handy source for information about growing every sort of garden vegetables and fruit. Everything from planting, growing habits and basics, to pests and preventatives, to yield and harvesting tips. I find his seasonal approach helpful and his blog always keeps me thinking and planning a head. Albert has several books, the latest being the encyclopedic The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide.
Seeds from Italy is an organic seed catalog that I’ve been ordering from the past five years. An outstanding catalog with great detail, copious growing and varietal information. And traditional, family recipes! The grower tests all seed varieties from Italy in his own U.S. location and reports on his learning. I’ve also grown excellent softneck and hardneck garlic from Seeds from Italy. I learned that Seeds from Italy is one of the very few seed nurseries that doesn’t send its best seeds to commercial growers and inferior seed to small, family growers. This means as a kitchen gardener you get the best seeds for the best plants from Seeds from Italy. Discovered by Martha Steward several years ago, Seeds from Italy has gotten very popular so order ahead.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds used to be the source for most of my garden seeds but over the last three years, I’ve been disappointed. Several crops have failed or been weak. Also, Johnny’s sends its best seeds to large commercial growers guaranteeing that small, kitchen gardeners are getting the more inferior product. Finally, Johnny’s now puts many fewer seeds in a packet for more money. For example, if I order curly kale from Johnny’s, the packet contains about 25-30 seeds for about $3.50 whereas Sand Hill Preservation or Seed Savers will send me a couple hundred seeds per packet for about $2.50. Johnny’s does provides some really great videos demonstrating techniques for planting, pruning (e.g., cucumbers) and increasing yield. Here I learned about tomato horn worms and the parasite wasp larvae that destroy them.
Seed and plant sources
Read about my favorite seed catalogs at my Seeds and Dreams post.