Seasonal Cookbooks

It has been so rainy and I’ve been working on other things, thus I have curtailed garden activities for a while.  (Although I do have more seeds to start–I may have to gird my loins and get on with it even in the rain.)  But at this time of year, I am looking for seasonal recipes.  It annoys me to pick up a February-issue magazine and look through the recipes to find that they use all kinds of summer-grown ingredients.  Instead, I have been trying to find some new recipes and cookbooks that feature season-friendly recipes.  I have to say that I’ve been eating a lot of coleslaw, and would like to find something else that would be tasty and not break the bank.

Here is a list of some cookbooks that I have found that offer winter-friendly recipes:

Bartley, Jennifer.  The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook.  Portland:  Timber Press, 2010.  This is a fun book–it includes garden design plans, seasonal checklists, fresh recipes, plant profiles and growing tips, as well as flowers for the table, all based on a seasonal approach.

Chesman, Andrea.  Recipes From The Root Cellar:  270 Fresh Ways To Enjoy Winter Vegetables.  North Adama, MA:  Storey, 2010.  Another cool cookbook that offers ways to cook vegetables that you will often not find in stores except in the winter, such as salsify, and with a focus on root vegetables, greens and brassicas.  There are a lot of easy to make recipes that don’t call for a lot of ingredients, which is appealing.  Chesman has written a couple of other cookbooks that I look forward to reading, including Serving Up The Harvest and The Vegetarian Grill.

Dahl, Sophie.  Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights:  Recipes For Every Season, Mood and Appetite.  New York:  William Morrow, 2009.  The recipes in this book focus on four-season cooking and using fresh ingredients. 

Webb, Robyn.  Flavorful Seasons Cookbook:  Great-Tasting Recipes For Winte,r Spring, Summer and Fall.  Alexandria, VA:  American Diabetes Association, 1996.  For those looking for some healthy options in winter recipes, this is a good place to start.  Each recipe lists preparation time, as well as a complete nutritional analysis. 

Weir, Joanne.  Winter:  Recipes Inspired By Nature’s Bounty.  San Francisco:  Weldon Owen, Inc., 1997.  This volume is part of the Williams Sonoma Seasonal Celebration line of cookbooks, and the photographs of each recipe are just gorgeous.  It offers tips for selecting winter ingredients, has pictures and detailed descriptions of winter vegetables, herbs, fruits, as well as winter ingredient preparation techniques.

I hope to preserve more food for next winter this gardening season.  I always do some, but I want to try to do more in this regard.

What are you cooking now in the winter?  Leave a comment, and also check out the Tuesday Garden Party.

 

Early Gardening Activities For February

I got my vegetable and flower seeds ordered and bought last week.  I normally do this in person, but circumstances this year did not allow for that, so I ordered almost all online.  I ordered from Territorial Seed, Johnny’s, and I am trying Pinetree based on their great prices as well as Jami’s word of recommendation at An Oregon Cottage.  They have a glorious selection of coleus seed, and I went a little crazy with that, but I should have some really gorgeous hanging baskets and containers this year, because I could get seeds that had been sorted into individual colors rather than mixes–I cannot wait!  I will be starting flower seeds around Valentine’s Day, so they’ll be ready to transplant in the middle of May.  I was actually a little late apparently getting my order in at Johnny’s, because they had already run out or had backorders for a couple of the seeds I wanted, but I was able to get my second choices, so it all worked out.  They are really expensive for their shipping costs, but they are also the only place I know to get ‘Nadia’ eggplant seed (a must-have for me because it grows well here, or rather, as well as any eggplant grows here), and they were cheaper in certain instances than Territorial.  I had to figure out the seed cost on a per seed basis (I was seeing double by the end of that mathematical experience), and sometimes Johnny’s was cheaper and sometimes Territorial.  (If you buy a lot of seed, the cost adds up very quickly.  All those packets look so innocent, and you think,”Well, it’s only a couple of dollars.” but it ends up being a lot of money if you are not careful.)  It’s best to get all your seed in the spring, because seed is not always available later in the season, so it always seems expensive to me, but when you consider how much food and flowers it will produce, it’s actually much cheaper than other options, like buying transplants from a nursery.

I got a few little jobs accomplished yesterday out in the garden.  First, I started a little bit of onion, lettuce and spinach seed inside under grow lights to get a few transplants to go outside under plastic in March.  Today I started sprouting my early ‘Dark Red Norland’ seed potatoes inside under lights, as those will be planted out later around the first weekend in April, depending on the weather.  You can read how to do it here.

Next, I moved on to the flower beds.  Slugs are always around, and so I took Sluggo and put it around all my emerging bulb foliage, the hostas, tradscantia and hellebores.  (That’ll fix ’em .)  I then picked the dead leaves off of my ‘Asao’ and ‘Louise Rowe’ clematis vines.  The weather has been fairly warm here, and many of the clematis and roses are starting to break dormancy, so there was a lot of new growth on both.  (The fruit trees and hydrangeas are also beginning to break dormancy as well.)  Now they look a lot neater.  I tied them back into position, so they are all ready to go.

I then noticed the curb strip was looking a little worse for wear, so I went down and cut down dead foliage, and raked up leaves that had caught around the plant crowns.  I used those leaves to mulch nearby flower beds, so that worked out well.

After that, I picked a little mustard greens, arugula and swiss chard that had wintered over under plastic in the garden!  Made greens and feta with penne pasta for dinner with some of it. 

I have yellow crocus and winter aconite blooming–so pretty.  My snowdrops have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, and the winter jasmine is in gorgeous display.  ‘Arnold Promise’ Chinese witch hazel is blooming, but it had a lot of the flower buds blasted by freezing temperatures early this winter, so not so many flowers this time around.  The ‘Texas Scarlet’ flowering quince is about to bloom.  There are even one or two blooms on the forsythia, very early.  And the viburnum continue to bloom off and on–they got their buds frozen late last year, so fewer blooms there, but more appear as the weather warms.  The ‘ Tuscan Blue’ rosemary has also been blooming for a couple of weeks, but much more now as the weather warms.  The rosemary is situated right in front of our dining room windows, and the hummingbirds are often out there eating from the rosemary flowers!

Hope your garden is doing well–leave me a comment and let me know what you are doing in yours.

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