Growing and Cooking Vegetables
For those keeping score, yes, I've recommended this book before, but I think it deserves another mention, if for no other reason than it makes a great winter read. Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (Ten Speed Press, 2011, $40.00) by Nigel Slater is a deeply personal guide to growing and cooking 29 vegetables. Obviously, this means the book does not comprehensively cover all vegetables, but sometimes we choose books for other reasons. Slater is considered one of Britain's foremost food writers, and the book includes more than 400 recipes as well as extensive gardening notes. I turned to the book recently for ideas in using rutabaga, with Slater providing 11 recipes. No small feat for a vegetable that seldom makes anyone's Top Ten list! The book itself has made a number of Top Ten cookbook lists recently. Many of Slater's recipes are generally simple to prepare and help us to explore our own instincts in selecting foods and cooking them. His commentary on growing vegetables in a small, urban backyard will equally ignite the imagination and view of the possibilities, including being willing to turn to local growers to fill out the harvest. There is also a companion volume on fruit, but it is still available only in the British edition.
Tool or Gardening Product
Bird Seed Dispensers
Feeding the wild birds is one of the most joyful things I do. Consequently, I usually buy bird seed in relatively large quantities, especially the black oil sunflower seed. Where and how to keep the supplies so that they are handy but not an eyesore is a challenge with how my home is designed. My solution has been to keep the large quantities stored in metal garbage cans with a concrete block on top, the better to keep marauding raccoons at bay. From these, I fill 8-quart plastic containers specifically designed to hold bird seed. Four of these neatly line up by the door nearest the bird feeders, holding black oil sunflower seed, a high-quality bird seed mixture, shelled peanuts, and nyger seeds.