Title: The New Southern Garden Cookbook
Author: Sheri Castle
Release Date: May 4, 2011
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The New Southern Garden Cookbook has one thing in mind: veggies, veggies, veggies. Maybe you’re a member of your local CSA, or spend time browsing your farmer’s market. Maybe you have your own garden, or are just looking for some delicious recipes to increase your vegetable intake. Whatever it might be, if it has to do with vegetables, this cookbook is a great resource.
The presentation of The New Southern Garden Cookbook isn’t quite the glossy paged feast for the eyes that I usually adore in a cookbook, but it’s understandable why. The book clocks in at a whopping 420 pages; I can’t imagine how heavy or thick it would be if it had used that sort of paper. It does have three small sections of mouthwatering pictures in it, and the green and white color scheme for the rest of the pages works incredibly well for the “fresh veggies” theme.
I am completely enamored of how The New Southern Garden Cookbook is organized. Usually, I prefer a traditional recipe classification – appetizers, main dishes, desserts, etc. But Sheri Castle chose to categorize her cookbook by vegetable, which makes perfect sense, if you think about its objective. That way, it’s easy for readers to look at their farmer’s market haul or CSA box and say “I need sweet potato recipes!” or “What am I going to do with field peas”? It’s the perfect way to approach this cookbook, and I really appreciate how easy it makes things.
There are countless recipes in this cookbook, and each one is accompanied by some sort of commentary from the author. These sections contain anecdotes, information, cultural tidbits, and more, and are worth reading just for fun. For example, before the recipe for Hominy and Pork in Green Chile Sauce, Castle discusses the term “pork butt” and how the unsavory name came from Revolutionary War times, when pork shoulder was stored in barrels called butts.
I had some beautiful looking zucchini, so I chose to make the Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup recipe. I absolutely loved how Castle warned me that the soup doesn’t keep once the tortellini are added, and gave some suggestions on how to store the soup. The recipe was simple to make, and happily didn’t require too many ingredients. My husband and I both enjoyed this thick, hearty soup, and I have a feeling it’s going to become a regular menu item whenever zucchini is in season. In fact, I have a feeling I’m going to be going back to this cookbook again and again; it’s going to become a real resource in my kitchen.