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December 2014

Cook with the Best in the Northwest

Fresh from the Garden Cookbook, by Ann Lovejoy
Reviewed by Mary Rose

Cook with the Best in the Northwest archive

 

As winter howls and groans, fresh garden produce seems but a dream.

Luckily, supermarkets manage to provide enough raw vegetables to make a nice salad even when the ground is frozen. Winter produce, such as potatoes and onions, is abundant, and there is a remarkable range of frozen items to choose from.

Fresh from the Garden Cookbook gives you a cornucopia of ideas for each season of the year. Pacific Northwest gardening writer Ann Lovejoy is well known for her gardening books and suggestions for using your harvest in the kitchen. She currently maintains a garden on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and writes a blog at Green Gardening with Ann Lovejoy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the consistent deliciousness of each recipe I've made in this cookbook. The recipes not only come out as expected every time, but they also exceed expectations with their unusual blend of flavors, textures, and undertones of cold/warm and spicy/bland.

You will find the usual variety of recipes in this book—salads, soups, entrées, side dishes, desserts—but it is worth buying for the salads alone.

 


Fresh from the Garden Cookbook, by Ann Lovejoy

 

The cookbook is conveniently divided into seasonal sections, with lots of enticing garden photos. Winter through fall, you'll find advice and recipes to use what's in your garden.

Winter

 


Hot Sweet Potato Salad

 

Sweet potatoes are part of the fall and winter holiday season, but generally they are topped with marshmallows or piled high next to slices of ham or turkey. But why not add them as a side dish to those leftover-turkey sandwiches and have a kind of cold-weather picnic with Hot Sweet Potato Salad.

Regular potato salad has a somewhat bland taste, due no doubt to the white potatoes as the main ingredient. You have to add pickles and other loud ingredients to make it bright. But in Hot Sweet Potato Salad the Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes can speak for themselves. Bind them together with mayonnaise and sour cream, toss in a little parsley, a bit of red onion, and some celery for crunch, and you have a dish worth sharing. As with many of the salads in this book, the ingredients here do not vie for attention as individuals, but join together to create a unique new taste.

Despite the name, this salad is equally tasty hot, warm, or cold.

Spring

 


Lemony Minted Carrot Salad

 

Lemony Minted Carrot Salad makes its appearance for spring. This is not the most outstanding salad I sampled from the book, but toasted walnuts add crunch, golden raisins supply sweetness, and mint yields a tantalizing highlight to a basic grated carrot base. This salad is better after it sits awhile, so I recommend making it the day before you serve it.

Summer

 


Fresh Corn Salad with Sweet Chili–Lime Dressing

 

In summer there are so many choices for creating a sparkling fresh-from-the-garden salad that it would be difficult to put together anything that didn't taste exceptional. Fresh Corn Salad with Sweet Chili–Lime Dressing is exceptional-plus. I hadn't used Thai sweet red chili sauce before making this, though it is easy to find even in my remote Montana markets, but I must say it makes a wonderful salad dressing.

No single taste stands out in this salad, which might surprise you when you see the list of strong-flavored ingredients: red onion, cilantro (1 whole bunch), bok choy, and cabbage—not to mention that dressing with the red chili sauce. But somehow they combine to create a new flavor altogether, one I am a big fan of: sweet and sour and fresh and unexpected.

I made this salad after the season for fresh corn, so I substituted a bag of frozen corn kernels from Stahlbush Island Farms, near Corvallis, Ore. I love Stahlbush frozen vegetables and berries. The corn tastes as if it came right off the cob in August, and the strawberries and marionberries are as sunny as fresh-picked. I cannot recommend this brand highly enough.

Fall

 


October Salad

 

For fall there is October Salad. This is a basic mixture of greens—bok choy, kale, parsley, and cilantro—lavishly garnished with pears and apples and dried cranberries. The list of ingredients calls for "1/2 cup raspberry vinaigrette or any citrus dressing." Thus it's up to you to provide something tasty to top it off.

So here is my all-purpose, go-to salad dressing that I use whenever I am making a salad with whatever I have on hand. In my opinion, it makes Lovejoy's October Salad superlative.

 

Lemon-Honey Dressing

Makes about 1/3 cup.

2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (1/8 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly, either by shaking in a jar with a lid or by whisking in a small bowl.

 

Mary Rose lives high in the mountains of Montana. She enjoys traveling to farmers markets in summer and making snowballs during the long winter. She is happy to find many locally produced foods, including lentils, cheese, and stroopwafels.

 

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