During the dog days of summer, when it’s just too hot to completely enjoy the great outdoors—otherwise known as “your yard”—there’s nothing like being indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. It’s during these hazy, lazy days when relaxation is a true treat, like picking up a gardening book and curling up on the couch. From The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader to The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland to a cookbook overflowing with tempting recipes using summer’s finest vegetables, books are inspirational, thought-provoking and hard to put down!
If you love gardening and have yet to pick up a book this summer, here are some great picks to help you get you started on the road to relaxation:
The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader
Remember how grandmother’s cellar shelves were packed with jars of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, pickled beets and cauliflower, and pickles both sweet and dill? Learn how to save a summer day – in batches – from the classic primer, now updated and rejacketed. Use the latest inexpensive, time-saving techniques for drying, freezing, canning, and pickling. Anyone can capture the delicate flavors of fresh foods for year-round enjoyment and create a well-stocked pantry of fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, flavored vinegars, and seasonings. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest introduces the basic technique for all preserving methods, with step-by-step illustration, informative charts and tips throughout, and more than 150 recipes for the new or experienced home preserver. Among the step-by-step tested recipes: Green Chile Salsa, Tomato Leather, Spiced Pear Butter, Eggplant Caviar, Blueberry Marmalade, Yellow Tomato Jam, Cranberry-Lime Curd, Preserved Lemons, Chicken Liver Pate, and more.
The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland
Chile peppers are hot — in every sense of the word. They add culinary fire to thousands of dishes from a variety of cuisines and inspire near-fanatical devotion in those who have succumbed to their incendiary charms.
In this comprehensive book, world chile experts Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland have assembled all the information that anyone with an interest in chile peppers could ever hope to find. Detailed profiles of the 100 most popular chile varieties include information on how to grow chiles; how to diagnose and remedy problems, pests, and diseases; and post-harvest processing and preservation. The book culminates in 85 mouth-watering recipes that make brilliant use of both the characteristic heat of chile peppers and of their more subtle flavor qualities.
Want to know what the hottest chile pepper in the world is? You’ll find it in the fascinating story of ‘Bhut Jolokia’, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the fieriest chile on earth. Confused about the identity of those chile peppers you bought? The authors’ clear photographs and precise descriptions will clear up the mystery.
The Complete Chile Pepper Book is the only guide to chiles you’ll ever need. It’s a scorcher.
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) by Steve Solomon
The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.
Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools. But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten. Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low-input gardening methods to produce healthy food.
Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies — working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.
Steve Solomon is a well-known west coast gardener and author of five previous books, including Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades which has appeared in five editions.
The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook by Andrea Chesman
What to do with a basketful of luscious tomatoes? How to prepare an armload of summer squash? Where to turn for new sweet corn preparations? These are the questions vegetable-lovers grapple with as they pick fresh-from-the-garden produce in their own backyards or from the ever-expanding farmers’ markets. Garden-fresh vegetables are so beautiful, yet their freshness so fleeting.
Andrea Chesman is a cook and gardener who knows what it’s like to be staring down pounds of vegetables and panicking about how to use them all before it’s too late. Simple. Delicious. Planned to fit the season. That’s the approach Chesman brings to the 175 recipes she’s developed for The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook.
The vegetables are organized seasonally by crop-readiness, with attention paid to combining vegetables that ripen together. All the favorites — spring salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, and more — are included, along with the more unusual — artichokes, endive, rutabagas, and edamame, to name a few. Popular techniques such as roasting and grilling accentuate the flavor in recipes such as Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad, Soy- Sesame Grilled Eggplant, and Maple Roasted Carrots. There are many vegetarian options, but even when combined with meat, vegetables get top billing. From Egg Rolls to Borscht, Caponata to Sweet Potato Pie, The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook has dishes destined to please every palate.
To address those nights when the mounds of vegetables are just too overwhelming to try a whole new recipe, Chesman includes fourteen master recipes for simple preparation techniques that can accommodate whatever is in the vegetable basket. Readers need only to learn the basics of preparing a creamy quiche, a bubbly gratin, a basic stir-fry, or a zesty lo mein, and then it’s easy to create new meals every month around the freshest assortments of seasonal vegetables.
The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook is sure to become a favorite for everyone who wants to enjoy their vegetables fresh, local, seasonal, and simple.
What garden-related books have you read this summer?