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Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America’s leading authority on vegetarian cooking and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, reveals the surprising relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs within the same botanical families, and how understanding these connections can help home cooks see everyday vegetables in new light.
 
For over three decades, Deborah Madison has been at the vanguard of the vegetarian cooking movement, authoring classic books on the subj

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2 responses to “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes”

  1. Laura says:
    116 of 120 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Love Letter to Vegetables, March 12, 2013
    By 
    Laura

    This review is from: Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes (Hardcover)

    Some of my favorite cookbooks are not those that the newest or most interesting recipes, but those that make me think differently about a whole class or category of food (think James Peterson’s Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making or Diane Morgan’s Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes). Vegetable Literacy does just that. Deborah Madison translates her years of experience with vegetarian cooking into a beautiful homage to vegetables.

    One of the key premises of this book is that understanding the relationships between vegetables may influence the way you think about and use them. For example, the Knotweed family includes buckwheat, sorrel, and rhubarb. Knowing the relationship between these ingredients may inform your use of them. Thus, you may choose to add rhubarb to buckwheat muffins, knowing that the two share a phylogenetic family and thus have a natural affinity.

    Vegetable Literacy is organized by vegetable family. Each member of the family is described in detail, with great information about appearance, history, and nutrients. The entry also includes excellent varieties to look for, information about using other portions of the plant, “kitchen wisdom,” and other foods with which the vegetable pairs well.

    In addition to all of this fantastic information about vegetables (both common and uncommon — how much did I know about salsify before this book? Absolutely nothing), Vegetable Literacy contains some fantastic recipes. Armed with new knowledge about the relationships between vegetable families, I loved exploring some new flavor combinations. Thus far, I’ve tried several recipes from this book with excellent success. The Braised Endive with Gorgonzola is is amazing (I had it over polenta, as the author recommends). And I also love the Thick Marjoram Sauce with Capers and Green Olives (it’s fantastic on bruschetta).

    One thing to be aware of is that these recipes are (duh) very vegetable-centric. There are many salads, soups, sauces, appetizers, and vinaigrettes, but fewer recipes for hearty main dishes. Each of the recipes is designed to let the flavors of its vegetable ingredients truly shine. Personally, I love this approach, but readers looking for hearty vegetarian main courses might want to look elsewhere. Of course, the information in this book is easily applied to other recipes so you can branch out on your own.

    Overall, Vegetable Literacy is an essential addition to any cook’s bookshelf. Its recipes are only the beginning of what makes this such a valuable resource. After understanding the relationships between plant families and learning which vegetables naturally pair well with others, you will be well-suited to adapt your favorite recipes accordingly. Vegetable Literacy is not just a cookbook; it’s a guide to understanding plant life and employing that knowledge in your kitchen. Enjoy!

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  2. Naomi Manygoats "Cookbook lover" says:
    74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Oh yes, you will love this book! It is fabulous!, March 13, 2013
    By 
    Naomi Manygoats “Cookbook lover” (Hill Country, TX USA) –
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
      

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    This review is from: Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes (Hardcover)

    I have long been a fan of Deborah Madison. I once had the opportunity to learn from her before the publication of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, my favorite cookbook until today. Her recipes are nothing short of brilliant, and she is a genuinely nice person to boot. Her recipes turn the humble vegetable into sparkling masterpieces. Her ingredients are well thought out, and each one serves to add an important flavor component to the dish. I have been making some of her recipes for 12 or so years, from Greens, etc. and they do not seem dated, they still stun with their uniqueness and freshness. Therefore I could not wait to get my hands on this book, and I am totally thrilled with it. It is, in my opinion, a master work, and is her most gorgeous book to date. The Broccoli Bites with Curried Mayonnaise for example are quick to make, taste wonderful, and left me wondering why I had not thought of doing that before! Ditto the tomato and cilantro soup with black quinoa.

    Besides being an absolutely fabulous cookbook, this is a great reference book. Instead of going from A-Z (A is for Asparagus, etc.) as so many authors have done with vegetables, Madison does something pretty astounding, and classifies vegetables by family. Deborah, through years of cooking and gardening experience, has observed that vegetables in the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking, due to shared botanical characteristics. So it greatly helps with the mystery of why some substitutions work beautifully and why some leave your family saying eeeek! She consulted with Botanist to bring us a book that is fun to read and learn from. The book has beautiful photography as well as formatting, and as usual Madison has some truly inventive and delicious recipes. The scientist and cook in me wants to stop everything and just read this book cover to cover, then cook everything! Madison even has a beautiful green ribbon bookmark in the book! How cool is that?

    I own a lot of cookbooks, and Deborah Madison’s are my very favorite ones. They make everyone a better cook! Please do NOT assume that this is a book of interest only to vegetarians, since Madison is known for her vegetarian books, because every cook, from home chef to restaurant chef should treasure this book. We all need to eat a more diversified plant based diet, and how wonderful it is to have vegetables that are so amazing in taste that they put a good steak or roasted chicken sitting beside them to shame!

    Here are the Families:
    * The Carrot Family
    * The Mint Family
    * The Sunflower Family
    * The Knotweed Family
    * The Cabbage Family
    * The Nightshade Family
    * The Goosefoot and Amaranth Families
    * The (former) Lily Family
    * The Cucurbit Family
    * The Grass Family
    * The Legume Family
    * The Morning Glory Family

    And a few of the over 400 pages of recipes and information include:

    * Salsify, Jerusalem Artichoke, and Burdock soup with Truffle Salt
    * Cauliflower Soup with Coconut, Turmeric, and Lime
    * Caraway Seed Cake
    * Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream
    * Orange and Rosemary Compote
    * Rhubarb, Apple, and Berry Pandowdy
    * Braised Cabbage with Chewy Fried Potatoes, Feta, and Dill
    * Slivered Brussels Sprouts roasted with Shallots
    * Smoky Kale and Potato Cakes
    * Winter Stew of Braised Rutabagas with Carrots, Potatoes, and Parsley Sauce
    * Kohlrabi Salad with Green Onions, Parsley, and Frizzy Mustard Greens
    * A Fragrant Onion Tart
    * Quick Bread of Rye, Emmer, and Corn
    * Winter Squash Wedges or Rounds with Gorgonzola Butter and Crushed Walnuts.
    * Blue Lake Beans with Shallots, Pistachios, and Marjoram
    * Asian Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter
    * Green Pea Fritters with Herb-Laced Crème Fraiche

    Honestly, if I had the money, I would buy this for all my friends who like to cook!

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