A garden diary featuring 100 seasonal recipes

I felt a real affinity for this book from the very first pages. I love the way Annie admits her mistakes and uses them to learn for the following years. Very much a cook first and a gardener second, as Annie says ‘It became obvious within minutes of discussing the way forward that anything I thought I knew about gardening¬† was not going to be very useful and this was an opportunity for me to learn not to instruct or dictate.’ And this is what she does. With the help of Simon Rickard, ‘a meticulous plants man with a huge interest in heirloom and old varieties of fruit and vegetables’, Annie established extensive vegetable beds and plantings of fruit trees. It is this fascinating story, combined with the seasonal recipes that make this book special. Annie reminds us that simple foods rely on the quality of the ingredients, and the very best ingredients come from our own gardens, freshly picked. This book is for anyone who grows their own vegies and fruit. It helps you to realise that things do go wrong, but often enough they also go right and that there is real joy in harvesting our freshly grown produce and then cooking them in simple but delicious ways. If you don’t grow your own, but buy from markets or local green grocers, you will enjoy the tales of the vicissitudes of gardening life, and delight in the recipes. Annie finishes the book by saying ‘We should all make the time to grow a piece of food, if only to fully appreciate how hard it can be.¬† This in turn will give us a healthier understanding of the value of good food and its absolute preciousness as a resource.’ With beautiful pictures by Simon Griffiths, this is another book to add to my shelf for constant reference. Borrow it from your library or buy from your local independent bookshop.

Annie Smithers, 256 pages, HB, ISBN-13:9781921382345, Lantern (Penguin), $49.95