One day, the term "farm-to-table" will cease to exist, not because the philosophy behind it will go out of fashion, but because it will become par for the course. Until then, though, as home cooks, we can go one step further than eco-conscious chefs: by starting our own backyard garden. Jeanne Kelley's Kitchen Garden Cookbook (Weldon Owen, $25) aims to show readers how to get started, with helpful tips and recipes organized by season.
The book covers the basics, including where to place your garden, how to prepare the soil, and how to water plants, to name a few examples. She also gives more specific advice based on popular seasonal produce. Want to know how to plant radishes? Kelley covers everything from when to plant the seeds to how to plant them and when and how to harvest them, and she does the same for tomatoes, pumpkin, asparagus, and just about any other plant covered in the book. But it's not just about plants. If you have ever dreamt of raising your own honeybees or chickens, Kelley talks about that, too, and it's fascinating stuff.
True, maintaining a backyard garden is a lot of work, especially if it snows where you live. You can think of the book's beautifully photographed recipes as motivation, though, to keep on plugging away, even if your first efforts aren't a huge success. The best part comes at harvest time, when you reap the benefits of what you sow: abundant, fresh produce ready for the picking. And getting a big discount on your grocery bill is just an added bonus.
Warm and comforting, this twist on traditional onion soup is a welcome proposition in the dead of winter. (Photo courtesy of Ray Kachatorian)
Sambal oelek lends not only a spicy kick to this wonderful spring salad, but also a tartness that plays off the Kaffir lime leaves nicely. (Photo courtesy of Ray Kachatorian)
The bounty of summer is on full display in this salad, which is substantial enough to serve as a full meal thanks to farro. (Photo courtesy of Ray Kachatorian)
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.