Last month we began establishing our new vegetable garden, and we are almost done. We believe the last frosts have passed now – we had two late ones this year, so the planting out the seedlings from the green house has just begun. If you’re a gardener you’ll be well aware that it’s a never ending process; it’s not just the planning of the vegetables we want to eat through the summer, but into autumn and growing food to preserve.
With the festive social season and Christmas fast approaching, the recipes and books that interest me are slightly different to last month. Here are my favourite books of the month of November ’23.
Lima – Virgilio Martinez and Luciana Bianchi
Browsing through Peruvian Cookbook for inspiration might seem odd, Peruvian food may seem exotic. But you’re most certainly familiar with many of its core ingredients, after all Peru is home to potatoes, quinoa and corn, along with tomatoes, chilli and nasturtium. These plants are all now at home in my garden. I love the colourful images in Lima, the collection of recipes offers an insight into the Peruvian culinary scene, yet the recipes are simple, vegetable forward and presented in a way that is totally approachable to a home cook.
The Flavor Equation – Nik Sharma
Not just a recipe book, but a comprehensive guide into the science of great cooking by exploring the elements – emotion, sight, sound, mouthfeel, aroma and taste, which all contribute to flavor. Packed full of information this book can help you understand how you can become a better cook. With maps, diagrams and and beautifully photographed recipes to guide you and teach you how to transform simple pantry items in to delicious meals.
Veggiestan – Sally Butcher
This 10 year anniversary edition is testament how wonderful this book is. Veggiestan – a food lover’s tour of the Middle East is packed of recipes with beautiful anecdotes and stories about the food and places. If, like me, you are allergic to sesame seeds, you can still enjoy and adapt these recipes, sunflower seed tahini has been a fridge staple in our house for years. Many recipes are vegan, but other simple to adapt with home made yoghurt and cheeses.
The Foragers Kitchen Handbook – Fiona Bird
Fiona Bird is a former Masterchef uK finalist, recognised for her expertise in foraging and cooking. The book covers foraging from the hills to the shore – and although written about Scotland – where I bought and used this book, this guide is still relevant in many other countries, including New Zealand as we have many plants in common. This book has inspired some of my recent recipes, including Sweet Violet Vinegar, as I am navigating living in a new, but familiar, landscape.
Fired Up Vegetarian – Ross Dobson
I have had this book for nearly 10 years, and pulled it off the shelf to decide whether I am keeping it…and I am. This global collection of recipes includes flavourful dishes, cooking tips and advice for achieving the best results from barbecuing. Vegetables are not the side dishes in this book but take centre stage … and it made me hungry reading it.