Passing the Time, Waiting for Spring

snowed in

Well I may have started the first of my seeds already, but I woke up this morning to about two feet of snow on the ground and I don’t think it’s quite finished snowing yet. It will be a while yet before I can start digging in the garden, so in the mean time I’m plotting and scheming with a big pile of books.

When I started doing research on soil blocks the best information I came across found came from Eliot Coleman, and I decided I should finally just buy one of his books. I picked up a copy of Four-Season Harvest and read it cover to cover in a couple of days.

If gardening manuals are not your idea of good bedtime reading, Margaret Roach‘s new book The Backyard Parables might be more your speed. It’s more memoir than how-to. I haven’t gotten too far into it yet, but so far, so good.

I’m more inclined to to read cookbooks in bed than to actually cook from them. Nigel Slater’s books are perfect for that. I got The Kitchen Diaries for Christmas, and was astonished to learn that in England one can expect rhubarb to make its first appearance in January! Around here we’re grateful for the first stalks of rhubarb in May.

Another new favorite cookbook is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. If you read any cooking blogs or the dining section of any major newspaper in the US you can’t have escaped reading about this book. It seems everyone is gaga for Jerusalem these days, and with good reason. Its full of beautiful photographs of the most delicious looking food I’ve ever seen. I generally think of Middle Eastern food as very summery, with lots of tomatoes and cucumbers and fresh herbs, but it turns out that there are a few magical sauces and dressings that can make even sweet potatoes and kale taste fresh and interesting. Also I’ve finally learned the secret to making really good hummus. It’s water.

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz has been in the pile on my bedside table for months now. Over the summer I was reading about kimchee and sauerkraut. Lately I’ve been reading up on brewing hard cider for our latest fermentation experiment.

Lately I’ve also been watching a lot of the first few seasons of River Cottage. Though the show is set in England it all feels very familiar to me. It turns out Western Massachusetts is a lot like Dorset with its cider-drinking odd-ball farmers and vegetable gardeners. It really is a fun show to watch, and many if not all of the episodes are available on Youtube.

Are you reading or watching anything good while you wait for spring?

12 thoughts on “Passing the Time, Waiting for Spring

  1. The Art of Fermentation sits on our coffee table waiting to be read, but I’ve glanced through it and it’s the sort of book that you use as reference when you want to start fermenting something – just like you’ve done. I’m very interested in starting with sauerkraut because of its health benefits.

  2. Eliot Coleman’s books are the ones I read again and again. I’m going to check out your other suggestions, they sound interesting!

  3. I love Nigel Slater’s recipes – simple, seasonal and tasty! The north of England is world renowned for sweet and tasty forced rhubarb (hence why it appears so early!). Great photo – really atmospheric x

    • Ah, that explains it! Thank you! Rhubarb isn’t terribly popular in the US, and I guess forcing it has never caught on here. Someday I might have to try forcing it myself!

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