Pouring over seed catalogs, dreaming of summer's succulence is a wonderful way to pass cold, dark winter nights. I'm not much of a gardener, but I've long loved looking through the Cook's Garden Catalog produced by one of our finest organic mail order seed companies. The catalog, with its beautiful woodcuts by Mary Azarian, reflects and stimulates the growing interest in heirloom tomatoes, unusual lettuces, interesting herbs, edible flowers and varying varieties of veggies. Ellen Ecker Ogden, who overseas the catalog, has peppered it with recipes since its inception, offering her devoted seedophiles innovative ways to cook what they grow. Now she's gathered 150 of these simple, simply delicious dishes, along with the charming woodcuts, in From the Cook's Garden: Recipes for Cooks Who Like to Garden, Gardeners who Like to Cook and Everyone Who Wishes They Had a Garden to Cook From. When you cook from the garden, the operative word is fresh, and seasonal recipes are what come naturally. .
Ellen takes her culinary cues from Mother Nature; things that grow together go together, and she provides bright, exciting ideas to spark up every season. And though the focus is on the garden-based, you'll find new ways to serve fish and poultry too, plus invaluable info on what's what in the gardener's world. Even if you don't or can't garden, go to a local Farmer's Market or roadside stand, pick up a plenitude of produce and let Ellen's book inspire you.