Grow and Cook

“Vegetable growing is addictive, what starts as a few herbs on a window sill can end up as a full-blown allotment habit” – so write Tom and Johann Doorley in the foreword of their new ‘Grow and Cook’ cookbook. Just what I want to hear in the first weeks of 2008. One of my many New Year resolutions is to incorporate a ‘grow some little thing’ of your own into each of my columns for 2008. As all good cooks know really yummy food is all about really fresh ingredients, beautiful crinkly Savoy cabbages, earthy carrots and celeriac, curly kale, knobbly Jerusalem artichokes, hardy Swiss chard, are all in season know. There are still a few Brussels sprouts around. Sprats and herrings should be in our waters about now. Look for them and treat yourself and your family to a top up of Omega 3 and anti-oxidants. Tom and Johann Doorley love their live in the country. This book is a diary of what they grow and eat through the months, their successes and learning curves. “Just as there are pessimists and optimists, there are two schools of thought about the month of January. Some of us find it a bit of an anti-climax as life returns to its more mundane rhythms after the excitement of Christmas. Others see the New Year as a fresh start bursting with opportunities”. Tom and Johann often find themselves somewhere in between. January is a month for curling up by the fire with seed catalogues, a time for planning and making lists. We all crave simple comfort food as an antidote to Christmas feasting, maybe chicken noodle soup made with some rich good broth from the turkey carcass. The recipe in Grow and Cook sounds irresistible. By now the Seville and Malaga oranges are in the shops so this is the time of year to make real marmalade. Tom and Johann have included a step by step guide which should be invaluable to those who are making marmalade for the first time. Winter is the citrus fruit season so this is the time of the year to make best use of all that family so you may want to try Tom’s Orange Cake and homemade orangeade. As already mentioned, root vegetables are at their best and cheapest right now so we use them often. The beetroot cake sounded intriguing so you may want to try that if you still have some beetroot. If not, substitute grated carrot in the recipe. Many people complain to me that their children won’t eat vegetables, I guarantee that if they help to grow, chop and cook them there is a much higher chance that they will tuck in. Tom and Johann have succeeded in bringing their kids into the garden and the kitchen, and several delicious recipes in this ‘labour of love’ including the Beetroot Cake and Amy’s Cheesy Bake, have been introduced by the children – quite a feat at a time when a growing number of adults, not to mention children have little or no idea or interest in how their food is produced – is it any wonder that obesity is our fastest growing health problem. ‘Grow and Cook’ by Tom and Johann Doorley is published by Gill & Macmillan.