Every time I see more snowflakes falling from the sky I have to turn my head to the heavens and ask, "Really?"
So when P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden showed up, it was not a minute too soon. If I can't be gardening, cooking and reading are next on the list; better yet when the two are put together. But be warned, don't read this while you're hungry, you'll stop mid-book and start rattling some pans.
Just in time for spring, and for some of you that will be sooner, way sooner than for me, this book is plum-packed with delicious ways to prepare dishes from all the great produce in your garden. Cooking from the garden is such a joy; instead of asking yourself what's for dinner, the garden tells you what to make. Having P. Allen as a guide only makes it nicer.
Mr. Smith and my family come from the same neck of the woods. Like the family photos at the front of his book, mules loom large in mine as well. I may have been a California kid, but I was raised on beans and cornbread. My mama made sure I knew the pleasure of shelling peas on the porch and picking blackberries in the sticker patch. So I don't so much as read the recipes, but hear them in a familiar voice. Don't think you have to be a southerner though to enjoy it.
I love how the book isn't just about vegetables, but includes recipes for the meat, eggs, fruits, herbs and flowers he raises at his new home, The Garden Home Retreat. I was able to visit there with fellow Master Gardeners as it was being built and I can tell you it is a gorgeous fantasy homestead brought to life.
I've been using his recipes for some time via his online Garden Home newsletter, so I know they're straightforward and not the least bit fussy. I have a knack for being able to taste a recipe as I read it, and let me tell you, I can't wait to try these.
Divided into four seasons, I'm anxious to make the Crawfish Etouffee, Broccoli with Lemon and Hazelnuts, and Radish Top Pasta for spring. I'm defintely curious about his Speckled Strawberry Ice that uses lots of cracked black pepper!
Summer includes among others: Grilled Summer Salad, Savory Grit Cakes with Oven-Smoked Tomatoes, and Peach Moon Tart. Fall features Allen's Favorite Sweet Potato Pie, Killer Apple Cake and White Cheddar Parsnips. And while I'm so over winter, the Winter recipes for slow-cooker lamb, roasted quail and duck gumbo seem like a tasty culinary distraction from all the white stuff outside.
And like the good boy that he is, he includes his mother's cinnamon rolls, even though they don't have a garden conection at all.
More importantly, the recipe for Cornbread Dressing, not 'stuffing' y'all, sounds the same as the lost recipe for my mother's version...could this be the holy grail of cornbread dressing I can now pass onto my daughter? Let's hope.
Besides the inspiring recipes, the beautiful photographs along with gardening and cooking tips make this book one I would have bought anyway, but thanks again to P. Allen and his people. It's a winner!