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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2013
Here's a cookbook that will have you planning your spring garden, even if that means filling pots with mint, basil and chives. Alice Waters' new cookbook had me longing for spring and the chance to plant lettuce and greens by the back door, something that I haven't done in fifteen years but may do next April, thanks to this book. Alice Waters may be a "legendary" cook, but she hasn't lost her enthusiasm for the way fresh food smells and tastes when you pull it from the ground in your own back yard.

The Art of Simple Food II is filled with elegant simple ways to use greens and other relatively easy to grow vegetables and fruits. The book follows the seasons starting with the tender greens of early spring through the fruits and nuts of fall, right up to preserving and home canning. While there are some meat, fish and poultry dishes, the emphasis is on vegetables. If you have thought of starting a kitchen garden, or even just growing some rosemary on a windowsill, you will probably enjoy this book.

First the sell. This book doesn't pressure you to eat more vegetables, it makes them sound so delicious you find yourself longing for salad or a plate of Sweet and Hot Green Cabbage, Parsley and Anchovy Sauce or Tokyo Turnip Pickles.

Next comes the push. Waters would like you to grow your own vegetables . Fortunately, she knows that not everybody is up for a plowing up the backyard. Start small, she advises. Plant herbs, plant some greens. She gives advice on things that confuse most novices such as the soil to use in pots. Then she gets serious and explains composting, plant food. She goes from the very simple to subjects that few home gardeners touch such as cover crops.

Personally, I'm on the lazy end of the scale but I have to admit that I know she's right. Lettuce really is a breeze to grow, at least in the Southeast U.S. before the hot weather hits. On the other hand, Waters' cheery optimism when describing growing seasons' outside of California seemed a bit pat to me but maybe I'm not committed enough.

This is an interesting book to buy if you want a kitchen garden or even if you don't. I may plant that lettuce next spring, but I'll be glad I have the recipes even when my garden vegetables come from the farmers market.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Growing food for your kitchen is an inspirational experience with this wonderful new book. The author/chef shows what flavorful foods can be easily grown in your garden or on the deck or patio. She then adds recipes for the kitchen. Part II she specifically encourages readers to try growing their own herbs, lettuce, garlic, onions, beans squash, etc. giving them the gardening tips. She shows the art of growing simple food.

Part I: Flavor as Inspiration.
She follows the seasons and has lovely line illustrations showing the crops: for example different kinds of cabbage, then the recipes. In her tomato section, her favorites were the tired and true tomato varieties: Amish Paste, Golden Jubilee, Brandywine, Juliette, Early Girl, and Sun Gold. The recipes follow each growing suggestion. All the recipes are simple and delicious. She highly recommends growing your own and/or buying locally.

Part II: Seed to Seed, Growing the New Kitchen Garden.
She starts with soil, preparing the beds, seeds, seedlings, extending the growing season, water, peak harvest, curing and storing, as well as saving seeds.

At the back of the book Tools and Resources are listed: Books; Seed and Garden Supply Catalogs (websites included;) Forums and Newsletters; Seed Saving; Urban Foraging and Fruit Exchange; and Cooperative Extension Offices. Glossary and extensive index are included.

This is a wonderful new book for the home gardener and cook as well as the professional chef. Growing your own food is encouraged, but buying locally is also suggested as an option. Great addition to your cookbook and gardening library.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2014
I have a whole lot of cookbooks...I mean, a WHOLE lot as in several hundred including a good few by or related to Alice Waters including The Art of Simple Food. I love her cookbooks and her Vegetables book is a definite go to. I have enough of hers and everything else (400+ and they get used...) that a cookbook really has to have some content that grabs and compels me. So, I saw this and thought "zzzzzzzzz". But then, a few days later back at the same store I looked through it. Darn if, in addition to her excellent gardening wisdom, and it is excellent and useful, the book has a bunch of recipes that I wanted. For one, she has several preparation for cardoons that are lovely and not deep-fried; purple aspargus "fettucine" was another and there is a wealth of other recipes that I found inviting with a heavy spin on vegetables, which I like. I encourage you to scan the viewable index on this site to see if you find many that capture your personal likes.

I will say that I live in her turf in the Bay Area (no, I do not know her and actually, we do not frequent Chez Panisse although it is a wonderful restaurant). We have abundant access to pretty much everything she mentions in the book. That is what she is about. If things are not available where you live and that is a problem for you, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you have imagination you can take her ideas and rework them with what is at hand and that is truly in her spirit. I say this because it is troubling when folks downrate a cookbook because they can't find ingredients. I know that different regions have different resources but that is not the fault of a creative chef so be warned you might want to check this out in the book before buying if you have 'issues' so you don't have to blame Ms Waters for it.

Her recipes always work for me. They are just about flawless and easy to prepare, or at least very straightforward. The flavors are always well-balanced. I find the resource and information sections in this book, about food labeling, gardening, locating resources etc. ...fantastic. It makes a good read.

Glad I bought it: I paid full price even though I could have gotten it on the cheap here or elsewhere...it was worth it. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2013
I do love the recipes I have tried from this book and the first volume. I like simple foods without all the nonessential additives some people feel are necessary to add to food.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2014
I feel bad giving this book only three stars but it's just not very useful for me, a non-gardener. I loved the Art of SImple Food I, which had great instructions regarding cooking techniques. I was hoping this one would be similar with a focus on vegetables and herbs, but it's more about gardening. The desciptions of each ingredient don't give you insight on how best to cook it and the recipes, though interesting, are kind of random and don't "teach" the way the Art of SImple Food I does. I wish she had take the time (as Marcella Hazan does in her books) to talk about the ingredient and how to make it shine.

She does talk a lot about gardening, though, so if you have the ability to do that, this is a book for you!

EDIT May 27, 2014 - I ended up selling this book, because most of it is not useful to me, someone without any gardening space or ability, but the one recipe I did try, chickpea soup with broccoli rabe was out of this world! I bumped it up a star - but stand by my original review that this book wasn't that useful for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2014
More great recipes, ideas and food for the thought, especially for those who garden or visit their local Farmers Market to fill their pantry. These are everyday, seasonally focused recipes that the kitchen novice can execute with confidence. Regardless of your comfort level in the kitchen, this book compliments anyone's cookbook library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
Great way to anticipate the spring planting season. Read how Alice Waters' gardening began and evolved through the seasons. Many ideas to implement in this year's garden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2014
Great recipes easy to follow, have made a few recipes all turned out great...my gf and I really enjoyed this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2015
Every time I buy an Alice Waters book, I am disappointed. It reads well, but actual application yields average taste results. I love and live by her philosophy of organic local fresh food, which is why I've purchased her books. It's a good start for people new to this. But I'm an experienced cook and expect more delicious results from her recipes. Her education in food, however, is very good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2014
Alice Waters hits a note of perfection once again. An engaging look at so many foods we take for granted in ways that let their authentic flavors take center stage.
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