Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review: Homegrown Herb Garden

Book Cover from Amazon

As you know, some of my arts include gardening and cooking. I really enjoyed this book.

Take your home cooking to the next level by incorporating fresh homegrown herbs! You don't need lots of space for a huge herb garden, and you don't need to spend a lot of money on fresh herbs at the grocery store or farmers' market. With Homegrown Herb Garden, you can choose the herb or herbs you will use the most and build your herb garden around them. Start with an overview of how to grow, harvest, and store herbs. Then, learn how to handle each herb and what flavors they work well with. The culinary section includes how to prepare and use your herbs, plus savory and sweet recipes to feature them in. Choose your favorite herbs, learn to grow them successfully, and never be at a loss for what to do with them!

Book comes in two parts 25% herbs and 75% recipes for those herbs. Total herbs covered 15; total recipes provided 62.

This is exactly what I've been looking for in an herb book! Each of the fifteen herbs are given height/width growth, water needs, and harvest instructions. The instructions for growing in containers are real instructions instead of the normal "appropriate size container and water regularly" - root depth is covered for instance. Whether the herb is a candidate for early start in house and transfer out to the garden or if it is best just to directly plant it in the garden (tranplantability). Etc.

Ms. McCormick lets the reader know when best to harvest and why (in case you ever wondered why you need to harvest early in the morning). Everything you need to set up an herb garden is here. It is amazing. Why more gardening books don't do I don't know. This changed how I was going to set up my garden - now I am going to split it into the "wet" and "dry" sections. Five stars all the way.

I don't have herbs yet (still setting up the garden), so haven't tried out the recipe section. The recipes are complicated, created by Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef Morgan - beautiful, but complicated. I may eventually attempt one or two (the rosemary chocolate chip cookie recipe is very tempting). At the beginning of each herb recipe section (at least three recipes for each of the fifteen herbs), includes best pairings with the herbs - what types of cheeses, meats, fruits & vegetables. I don't see myself using that information very much, but new cooks working toward mastery of the kitchen may find it useful. More helpful is how to chop/use each herb in a dish - but I got most of that from the herb section. I found Chef Morgan's sectioning herbs into woody and grassing completely unhelpful for my purposes - but I totally can see another cook getting an "a-ha" moment and running with it.

So for the recipe section, I would give two stars (Goodreads - it was okay) or three stars (Amazon - it was okay). But the herb section was so exactly what I have been looking for - and I have gone through a lot of online searches and gardening book reading, I know how rare this is and would have bought the book JUST for the herb section (in fact I did buy it just for the herb section) - I had to give this manuscript Five Stars.