One of my very, dear friends has written a book full of insight and inspiration. Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening, Including 50 Recipes, Plus Harvesting and Storage Tips, by Willi Galloway is a feast for the eyes. Willi has tapped into something I haven’t seen in other gardening books lately. She points out that if we grow our own food, we can enjoy it at nearly every stage of its existence. The roots, shoots, seeds and leaves of vegetables and many herbs are delicious during myriad stages of growth. Willi teaches us how to grow them and then partake of them at their best. Not only can you eat sweet peas in the pod, you can also enjoy their blossoms and shoots in a salad with shaved Parmesan adorned with a lively, lemon vinaigrette.
Of course, Willi knows her recipes. She’s the author of the popular food and gardening blog, DigginFood, a favorite a read of mine.
Willi and I met through our blogs long before we hugged in person in Portland, but I always felt her to be a kindred spirit. Her love of food and how to grow it herself intrigues me. I think she and other young gardeners are the future of our industry. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo in the grocery store, and their informed palettes are now changing the way we look at food. Although I’ve grown vegetables for over twenty years, I find their information to be pleasantly original in scope.
The book is broken down into gardening information first, and then Willi takes us on a tour of her favorite herbs, vegetables and fruits. She and I both champion dinosaur kale. It is not only beautiful, but also healthful and delicious. It is a power food for body and soul.
She abhors pesticides and herbicides and encourages everyone to garden organically because it is the way we truly become good and experienced gardeners. I know that when I began using organic practices many years ago, it was a steep learning curve to wean myself from chemicals for my roses and to prevent squash bug damage on my zucchini. I’ll be honest. I live in a hot, dry place for vegetables, and our summers sometimes strain my vegetable garden to its limits. But, I still won’t use Sevin® on my squash and other veg or herbicides on my roses although many gardeners in my state continue to do so. Many time, I have opted to simply give up on summer squash instead. This is an acceptable choice. Through Willi’s book, I felt like she was walking with me and understood how I feel about these vital decisions on what to plant, how to grow it and then, what to make with the vegetables that thrive.
Her book is accented by excellent photography by Jim Henkens. I love that she collaborated with a professional photographer. In these changing times, photographers and writers both need work, and it’s good to see photographs both lovely and real.
Sasquatch Books sent me this book for review, and I’m really glad because I read it cover to cover and learned a few, new things about gardening, a passion which fascinates me even after all these years. The recipes were an excellent bonus too. Thank you.