Tender: Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nigel Slater transformed his back yard into a garden. Not a fantastic, provide everything he eats garden ... but the sort of garden that someone who doesn't mind some failure does. And, of course, someone who likes to cook and eat. So we reap the benefit of his observations about gardening overall and then specifically about all sorts of vegetables. With recipes.
I like Slater's informal style and also his honesty about personal quirks. For example, he is determined to be organic and yet frustrated by slugs. One of the most charming stories is about how he loves to see the little family of urban foxes that lives next door but is simultaneously driven crazy by the fact that he knows they will eat some of his most treasured plants when his back is turned ... and the fact that the cubs love to lie right next to the keep-foxes-away speakers he bought.
This is one of those books that I will read through in order while flipping around to find recipes for produce received in my CSA cooler (what Slater calls his "organic box"). For example, I just have to go pick up some bell peppers and then am going to roast them with the tomatoes I got ... and some anchovies ... or mozarella ... or black olives. Mmmmm ...
I also meant to praise the book itself. It is printed on good quality paper, with cloth binding, has a bound-in ribbon marker, and contains some of the most beautiful photography I have ever seen in a cookbook. If you have Kitchen Diaries, the photography and layout style is very similar, which makes it an aesthetic pleasure to pick up and read as well as to cook from.