I received a copy of Grow Cook Eat : A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening from the publisher. Written by Willi Galloway and published by Sasquatch Books. I am loving it.
It’s one of those books you can go through it, enjoy the photography (amazing! By Jim Henkens), open any page and learn something fun. Either a new recipe or about a plant you might already have in your garden, or something new. And I must confess I also love the feeling of the cover and the pages… it just feels good to hold in your hands, every way you look at it, I’m really enjoying it.
Do you see the type they used for the name of the plants? I like it! They used the same type for Willi’s name in the front cover too. I find it friendly and playful, and personal. I wish I had it to write maybe the heading of my blog, or the title of each post… it’s easy to read, and different.
Now… the content. Did I mention the photography? It is just gorgeous! (I’m going to come back to this, here in a minute.)
We’ve been gardening for a while now (18 years, I think that’s a while, right?) Not to say that we are master gardeners or anything close, but we’ve been doing it for a while, and learning as we go. Always learning.
When we moved to the US after getting married in Chile (18 years ago), we rented an apartment here in Portland. That first spring we found a dresser drawer from some furniture or something, and filled it up with dirt. It was our first little garden, a garden box of sorts. We planted radishes, arugula, and maybe something else (I don’t remember what else we had. Maybe lettuce?) It was a tiny apartment, and we didn’t really get ready for much more, and didn’t have the space or money to rent a plot. We were young and newly wed, trying to figure out our new lives together, in a new country, with everything new. A small box seemed to be the perfect first garden for that year. I hadn’t thought of our first garden probably since that year. That’s funny.
For our second spring, we felt like we really wanted to get out in the dirt, so we started a garden in one of Mark’s co-worker’s house. They had some land, and didn’t have a proper garden. So we broke the ground for them, and planted a garden, with many rows, and many vegetables. For us and for them. We fell in love with the dirt and those tiny plants growing. It was lots of fun. I remember the huge zucchinis and cucumbers we ate that summer… I must have those pictures somewhere… I’ll keep looking.
That was our second summer. Then we found our own first home that autumn and were excited. Now, we could have our own garden, right in our own back yard! This photo above and here below are of our backyard. We are getting rid of some of the grass, and turning into a garden.
We worked on it, made vegetable beds, dug out the grass and cleaned out garbage that was there from many, many years ago. It turned out perfect.
We’ve changed the position of our beds in these 17 years of home and garden ownership. And of course, the plants we’ve had have also changed, which makes it exciting every winter and spring to think of what we’ll have for the season. Now there’s four of us to decide. I like that.
Even though I received this book after we had planned and planted our garden this year, I want to try some of the recipes Willi shares.
I am excited. Every time I see the book around the house (it’s been by my bedside for a long time, in the living room, on the coffee table, the floor next to the gardening magazines and library books, in the kitchen) it makes me want to get out and garden. The colors, the photos, the plants, the recipes… all of it! It’s so inspiring.
So, yesterday I made pasta with Willi’s pesto. Last time I made pesto was with the nettle we had just picked. This time, was with basil from our garden. It is so good! I could eat it with everything.
The great folks at Sasquatch Books let me share the pesto recipe here with you, so here it is for you to try now:
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup packed finely grated parmesan (about 1 ounce)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pulse the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the basil and Parmesan and process into a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the blade running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until the oil is thoroughly incorporated and the pesto is smooth. Taste and add salt if desired.
To keep refrigerated pesto from turning black, lay plastic wrap coated with olive oil directly over it, and seal the container with a lid. It will keep for at least a week refrigerated and several months frozen. Bring it to room temperature and stir thoroughly before using. When using frozen pesto in pasta, thaw it and stir in 1 tablespoon pasta water before tossing with cooked pasta—this helps distribute pesto evenly.
The only problem I had was that I don’t have a food processor, so I used the blender, and it was harder to get it all mixed. I had to scrape and mix with a spatula more often, and stop and mix. And I ended up adding a little more olive oil than the recipe says, but I think it turned out really good anyways! I’m definitely making it again, and see how it looks (and tastes) freezing it.
As you can see (from my sticky notes collection in the first pictures), I have lots of other recipes I want to try, and some tips and ideas for harvesting and using some of the plants we have in our garden. Since our raspberries seem to be done producing for their first year, I was reading about how to trim them now.
And Willi also has some ideas for drying herbs for teas, and a sandwich that looks delicious! Check out her book, I think you are really going to like it. And have I said the photography is so amazing that it makes you almost smell the plants and the food? It does!