Harper & Row, 1976
The subtitle for this book is: A Cookbook For When Your Garden Explodes. That fits the garden situation here in Northern California, as you can see from the picture above.
This book, first written in 1976, has been my mom’s go-to book for times like these. I know I should have purchased this book myself but Mom kept sending me copies of her favorite recipes that I didn’t bother. Now I have the book, since she no longer has her garden, or a need to cook. It’s going to be put to good use here by succeeding generations of gardeners and cooks.
Too Many Tomatoes . . . is organized alphabetically from Asparagus to Turnips (zucchini is included with summer squash). It covers vegetables commonly grown in the backyard. Each vegetable chapter starts with a basic discussion of the plant – how it’s grown, how to harvest and store it, basic preparation, nutritive value, and even complimentary herbs. This is then followed by a variety of recipes using this vegetable, anywhere from eight to fifteen recipes per vegetable.
The book can be used by both gardeners and CSA or Farmer’s Market patrons. The recipes are written in a very basic manner and assumes you have considerable knowledge of cooking techniques. It’s not a book for cooking beginners.
The recipes range from the unusual (Broccoli Guacamole, Spinach Spanakopitta, Carrot Marmalade) to the good old standbys (Marinated Cucumber Salad, Harvard Beets, Stir-fry Snowpeas).
The last chapter is called Anything and Everything and includes a nice mish-mash of recipes that don’t fit anywhere else. This is where I first learned to make Homemade Mayonnaise (using my newly invented blender) and various flavored butters.
For our family this book’s claim-to-fame is it’s recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake. This was the first time by mom put a vegetable into a cake. Of course, she told no one until everyone loved and raved about it. She went on to Zuchinni Bread and, my brother’s favorite, Zucchini Lasagna (replace pasta with shredded zucchini/recipe not in this book).
The Chocolate Zucchini Cake is really something special – very moist and chocolatey. I promise to make some this coming week and share it (the recipe) with you next Saturday. In the meantime, the tomatoes are exploding here so it’s time to check out the chapter on tomatoes.
Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things is available at Amazon in the updated (1991) edition. Be warned: a new copy of the paperback edition is now going for $265.07. Used copies are available for much less ($4.30). Our copy is the hardback but I doubt it’s worth much. It’s full of stains and notes and is partially separated from it’s binding. The sign of a well-used, well-loved book.
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