Book Reviews

The Real Food Companion

by Mathew Evans

Last week some friends Tim and Anne Gott from the best darn bookshop in Tasmania - The one, the only, the wonderful, Devonport Bookshop - visited and raved about The Real Food Companion.
OK, I said, order me a copy.
Tonight I arrived home to find a parcel the size of a Dalek on my doorstep.
Wow! It's a cracker. Yes, I loved MEs Winter on the Farm - see the home page - but this is a whole different angle and he gives his perspective on what makes some food taste better than others. Evans states this is his attempt to empower cooks when they go out to shop, to cook, to eat.
Forget the fact this marvellous book is the result of three years’ research.
Forget he is obsessed with food. Forget there are over 200 recipes and chapters are organised so you can dip in and out of topics at will.
Just get it.
Read it.
You will love it.

ABC Organic Gardener
Essential Guide Vegies A-Z
Just. Buy. It. Now.
You want to know more?
It’s less than 10 bucks, but okay...hang on, here we go.

* It’s the the third in the fantastic.ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guides series.

* It contains everything you wanted to know about growing vegies organically but were afraid to ask.

* Not surprisingly, Vegies A-Z runs the gauntlet from artichokes to zucchinis.

And everyone's favourite greenthumb, St Peter 'bloomin' marvellous' Cundall shares his secrets on growing delicious tomatoes and root vegetables; Annette McFarlane dishes the dirt on potatoes and cabbages; Penny Woodward talks asparagus and celery while Jerry Coleby-Williams reveals all you need to know about controlling pests and diseases – without nasty chemicals.

What more do you want?

I bought mine, you can get yours at the local newsagent or via the ABC. 
RRP $9.95 - less than three cups of coffee in any big city!

Smart Gardening
By Marcelle Nankervis
Smart Gardening: Grow your own fruit and vegetables - Save money and the environment is a good introduction to getting the most of our your backyard and live a more sustainable life.

It contains loads of ideas including a monthly reference section, details about sustainable gardening, guidelines on what to plant and when to harvest, environmentally friendly pest control, practical soil preparation, composting, pruning and companion planting.

Written in a no-nonsense and accessible style. A good index means you can find the information you want quickly. Author Marcelle Nankervis knows her onions (so to speak). Not only is she also the author of Plants For Australian Dry Gardens , Marcelle has worked on many TV shows including Burke's Backyard and Better Homes and Gardens and has a great blog.

Jackie French’s Chook Book
By Jackie French

Hi, my name is Alison and I’m a chook-a-holic. I love my four gals (Layne, Gidget, Philly and Ledger) and I found this revised and expanded edition of Jackie French’s Chook Book absolutely unputdownable.
French's advice on poultry keeping and management are terrific, the photos of different chook shacks was inspiring as was her practical advice on everything from day-old chicks to dealing with feeding, housing, pests, poultry behaviour, and then (ahem) recipes. There's a good index, listing on where to get further information and relavent organisations and websites.
At $21.95 this is exceptional value.
Buy. It. Now.

Frugavore - How to Grow Your Own, Buy Local, Waste Nothing & Eat Wellby Arabella Forge

Frugavore is jam-packed with great ideas, tips, recipes and suggestions for growing your won with the hippy-hippie-shake. No matter if you are on a suburban block, a student flat or highrise apartment, there are some excellent ideas for  enjoying better quality food while spending less. Arabella is a Melbourne-based nutritionist and her practical solutions include encouraging you to try different types of composting, growing your own vegetables, fruit, herbs and finding better sources of product – all on a modest budget. It’s ideal for anyone who is concerned about the amount of chemicals in supermarket food and who wants to get back to enjoying delicious food that’s good for you, your family, community and environment. Living a good life is achievable and very affordable. Published by Black Inc Books it's a great read.

Backyard Poultry - Naturally
By Alanna Moore
Can I feed comfrey to my chooks? How do I treat my hens for lice? What’s the difference between a Houdan and a Seabright? All the answers are in Backyard Poultry – Naturally (BPN), a terrific book that is a must for anyone keeping or contemplating having chooks or ducks. BPN is a fascinating and informative title that should be on your green-living bookshelf. Not only does Moore clearly discuss the ins and outs of keeping healthy poultry, she takes a practical view and offers good suggestions to keeping your chickens and ducks happy and healthy without using harmful chemicals. As well as looking at the different breeds, types of housing, pens, breeding and feeding, she also offers advice on permaculture.
BPN also contains a good list of further references, an appendix and glossary of poultry terms. While an index would be beneficial, it’s a well laid out book with good photographs of different breeds and written in an accessible manner that you will refer to again and again.

Organic Gardener Essential Guide - Fruit

Frugavore is a great little book with a big, big heart. Author Arabella Forge shows by example that eating well and living a sustainable life are not incompatible - and can be loads of fun.

Subtitled “all you need to know about growing fruit naturally”, Organic Gardener Essential Guide - Fruit is a must-have for the enthusiastic gardener who wants to enjoy their own apples, peaches, passionfruit and pears. Contributors include the divine Peter Cundall and Gardening Australia stalwart Jerry Coleby-Williams. This dynamic duo join garden gurus Annette McFarlane, Nick Romanowski, Phil Dudman, Penny Woodward and Graham and Annemarie Brookman to provide a treasure trove of practical “get in there and have a go” information.  Everything from plant selection, positioning, pests and pruning are included.  The comprehensive contents page is good but an index would have been better. However, at a mere $9.95 this is fantastic value. If I were a music host who was into Egyptology, cowboy hats and hosted a cult TV rock show I’d say “do yourself a favour” but that’s waaaaaaaaay to subtle. Just. Buy. It. Now.

Good Gardening 
By Vasili
OK, so it's a gardening magazine not a book, but it's a cracker. Vasili's latest venture is a real 'down to earth' publication that will appeal to anyone who loves gettign their hands dirty and wants to grow their own food. GG is both very informative and enjoyable to read. (Even my husband whose idea of gardening is to pick ingredients for dinner, loved reading it.) Vasili brings his genuine passion that is so evident on his cult TV show to GG - this inspiring magazine should be on every gardening bench.

The Australian Vegetable Garden
By Clive Blazey

Written by the venerable Clive “Diggers Club” Blazey, this is a gardening bible that should be read by every aspiring veggie grower. First published in 1999 it's still a wonderful book. The subtitle ‘what’s new is old’ is on the money. While heirloom foods are currently the ‘in-thing’ with the foodie set, for lots of us, they were never ‘out’. A small patch still means big taste and yummy rewards. Divided into four main sections, TAVG cover all aspects of vegetable growing: the best vegetable to grow for taste, ornamental value and self-sufficiency; the basics of cultivation; a directory of growing vegetables including an expanded segment on tomatoes; and seed saving.  

A good feature of the book is the infromation on growing times from seed planting to harvest. There’s heaps of great colour photography, numerous charts and a  climatic map showing optimum regional growing seasons throughout Australia. Add a comprehenive index and you have all the inforamtion to get started and keep your veggie garden on track.