We’ll admit it: here at Sunset, we love to play with our food. Whether we’re crafting cocktails or perfecting pie crust, studying sugar cookies or butterflying the Thanksgiving turkey, we are always experimenting, always tinkering.
So as you can imagine, we love trying out new recipes. Back in November last year, we decided to share our delicious discoveries through the Sunset Cookbook Club. Every so often, a group of Sunset staffers chooses one or more inspiring cookbooks by Western authors and we…cook the books! Each of us makes one recipe, and then shares his or her results here on Westphoria.
This summer, we chose Heather Hardison’s Homegrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table. Hardison lives in Berkeley, has an edible garden, and creates the winsome blog Illustrated Bites, for which she draws a lot of the meals she makes at home. Her book is just right for us backyard-gardening Westerners, and for anyone who loves to “eat fresh and eat local”—the food mantra that, Hardison says, she’s completely smitten with.
We thoroughly agree with Hardison's feelings about cooking and gardening. Here’s what she writes in her introduction to the book: “When I have a busy week of being buried in endless tasks, when I feel like every free second is spent checking my phone, the anxiety and stress starts wearing on me in a deep way. Getting my hands dirty in the kitchen or the garden has a way of melting that stress away…I won’t argue that we should all give up going to the grocery store and strive to be completely self-sufficient, but I do know that gardening and home cooking foster a mindfulness and calm that we all could use.” Hear, hear!
Through friendly, encouraging advice and drawings, Hardison shows us how to plant and then cook more than two dozen different crops. If you’ve never before planted seeds, or trellised a pea vine, you may suddenly find yourself doing just those things, Homegrown in hand, because she makes it seem like Not a Big Deal. A few of us at Sunset actually grew our own crops for this edition of Cookbook Club; others will be visiting the farmers’ market to make our recipes.
Together, over the next week or so, we’re going to cook the entire summer chapter. First up: a garden-to-table staple—pesto! (Ours has a twist.)