- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 29, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307718271
- ISBN-13: 978-0307718273
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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About the Author
ALICE WATERS is the owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, California. She founded the Edible Schoolyard Project and has received the French Legion of Honor and three James Beard Awards. Her most recent books are the New York Times bestsellers 40 Years of Chez Panisse and The Art of Simple Food, as well as In the Green Kitchen and The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From the introduction, My Kitchen Garden:
I started my kitchen garden because I was longing for mesclun, that very particular French salad made of distinctive sweet and bitter greens and herbs. I had been daunted by the thought of growing food, but then, driven by the desire for that flavor from Nice, I turned my backyard into a salad garden for the restaurant. My success surprised and delighted me. I was so excited to have my yard filled with the lettuces I loved.
You do not need a large backyard to start a garden. There are many other underused locations waiting just for you: balconies and windowsills, rooftops, vacant lots—and schoolyards! Tragically, supermarkets have numbed us with the convenience of the same mass-produced fruits and vegetables year-round—to the point that most of us consider a garden unnecessary. Growing a few lettuces or tomatoes is pleasurable, but it is so much more than that—for the future of the planet, it is a necessity that we become caretakers of the land. Fortunately, this is easy to do—and affordable, too.
We have been thoroughly indoctrinated from childhood to think that we can’t grow our own food—or cook, for that matter—because it is too much work and takes too much time, that the climate is not right, or that there isn’t enough room. But that is not so. When I was very young, my family had a victory garden in our New Jersey backyard, and we were not alone. With Eleanor Roosevelt leading the charge with her garden on the White House lawn, more than twenty million victory gardens were planted during World War II, and they produced more than nine million tons of fresh vegetables. I find it incredibly inspiring that the White House now has a kitchen garden again, after too many years—especially now, when so many of us want to grow beautiful edible plants instead of lawns.
The lettuce garden in my backyard moved to a farm long ago, but my kitchen garden continues to grow. The grassy area of my tiny yard gets smaller and smaller every year. But I couldn’t live without my beds of lettuces! Herbs are planted throughout; I depend on them daily. I let rocket reseed itself all over the garden to eat young in salads, with its flowers sprinkled over, or wilted in pasta sauce when it matures. In summer, I grow cherry tomatoes and beans. In fall and winter, I have plots of chicories, kales, and chard. There is plenty of fruit, too—a dwarf apple and a large Gravenstein, a small Meyer lemon, a kumquat, a Fuyu persimmon, a bay tree, and a small thicket of raspberry canes. I tuck edible plants in among the roses, and they are as beautiful as their neighboring flowers. I have a couple of chairs and a small table, and a little grill is set up nearby so I can cook and eat right in the garden. I love to watch the ebb and flow of growth: tiny sprouts as they push up from the soil, blue borage flowers reaching out to bees and birds, the burgeoning harvest as it ripens. I feel connected to the whole cycle of life.
My own path to gardening has been through taste. I am forever falling in love with the fantastic range of varieties available for almost every food plant. Learning to discern these subtleties of texture and flavor—learning to distinguish an Elberta peach from a Sun Crest—is a thrill for me. Using hand-selected produce that is still full of life and vitality, just picked from the vine or pulled from the ground, is what makes cooking not just good, but irresistible.
Gardening has also taught me empathy for farmers and farm workers and respect for the hard work they do growing our food and taking care of the land. It makes us all remember that food is precious, and we are dependent on the land for our survival. It is all about the land. That’s the reason I wanted to write this book. One of my most powerful gardening experiences has been watching the children at The Edible Schoolyard, a kitchen garden planted at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, a public school in Berkeley, California. Every time I see them measuring the vegetable beds for their math class, or harvesting ancient grains out in the garden for a history class, or stealing a taste of a ripe mulberry, I am reminded that there is nothing more transformational than the experience of being in nature. We have been separated from it, but as soon as we dig our hands into the soil and start watching things grow, we fall in love effortlessly—we realize we are a part of nature. I have seen this transformation happen in a school full of teenagers; I have seen it happen at the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz; I have seen it happen with inmates in a jail. This connection to and respect for nature can be awakened in all of us.
The chapters of this book are filled with the experience of extraordinary farmers and cooks that I have met over the past forty years. It is with their collective knowledge that we have tried to demystify gardening, by providing recipes for cultivation and offering the most enticing dishes we make from our harvest. Each recipe celebrates the flavor of the delicious varieties of fruits and vegetables we have discovered in the fields of our farmer-gastronomes, heritage varietals that have been lost in the industrial farms in this country. Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food International, has said that cooks need to be gardeners and gardeners need to be gastronomes in order to ensure the sustainability of our food system. Thomas Jefferson, our country’s most celebrated farmer-gastronome, is an inspiring example. The garden was the passion of his life. He had an adventurous palate and a profound respect for agrarian values. He planned his garden for the pleasures of the table and combed the world for interesting and tasty plants to grow. I love knowing that he sowed a thimbleful of lettuce seeds every week to ensure there was fresh salad on the table every night. Today Monticello is more than a landmark; it is a national treasury of heirloom seeds, a place of enduring values, where the roots of our democracy still thrive.
Tending the soil, planting, and growing food in this way has had a long and important history in this country. If we let ourselves, we can easily return to this tradition. And what a revolutionary idea: That we can preserve the land by nurturing the vital link between taste, cooking, and gardening! It can be as simple as putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.