farmers market cookbookFarmers markets and CSAs are among the best places to find high-quality, diverse, and exciting vegetables and fruits. But the rich array of unusual varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.

From detailed produce descriptions to storage tips, preparation techniques, and over 200 flavorful recipes, The Farmers Market Cookbook has the answer to every prospective locavore’s perennial question, “What do I do with this?” Featuring a range of traditional favorites alongside innovative creations showcasing the stunning flavors of heirloom fruits and vegetables, this guide to seasonal eating will help you engage your powers of creativity, learning, and experimentation.

Eating locally cultivates appreciation for those who grow our food. Full of practical insights from field to fork, The Farmers Market Cookbook celebrates the small farmer’s labor of love with recipes that showcase every crop at its best – essential reading for anyone who wants to appreciate fresh food at its best. (description from publisher)

vegetable butcherThe skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in The Vegetable Butcher, an essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables.

In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke.

Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables. (description from publisher)

plenty moreYotam Ottolenghi is one of the world’s most beloved culinary talents. In this follow-up to his bestselling Plenty, he continues to explore the diverse realm of vegetarian food with a wholly original approach. Organized by cooking method, more than 150 dazzling recipes emphasize spices, seasonality, and bold flavors.

From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More is a must-have for vegetarians and omnivores alike. This visually stunning collection will change the way you cook and eat vegetables. (description from publisher)

After the winter we’ve had – are still having! – it’s hard to believe that it’s actually, finally spring but as of yesterday, it’s true. And spring means it’s time to start planning your garden and flower beds – it’ll be green again before you know it. Really! Here are some of our latest books to inspire you.

plantifulPlantiful: start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow and overwinter by Kristin Green –  Plantiful shows you how to have an easy, gorgeous garden packed with plants by simply making the right choices. Kristen Green highlights plants that help a garden quickly grow by self-sowing and spreading and teaches you how to expand the garden and extend the life of a plant by overwintering. Discover the perfect the art of editing, share the wealth, and learn for yourself that gardeners don’t have to dig deep to grow a lively, plentiful, and colorful garden year-round.

grow more with lessGrow More with Less by Vincent Simeone – Put your best foot forward in creating an efficient, sustainable home landscape. From composting and mulching to planting trees, author Vincent Simeone covers all the eco-friendly essentials in one straightforward handbook. Simeone makes the what, how, and why of sustainable gardening unmistakably clear: why we should plant for the long-term, how to make the best plant selections possible, how to manage invasive species, how to make the most of your lawn (regardless of its size), the importance of IPM (integrated pest management) in fighting insects and pests, how to conserve water with proper irrigation, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and more.

wildlife friendlyThe Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardener  by Tammi Hartung – This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment – instead of continually fighting it – you’ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartung explains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.

attracting beneficial bugsAttracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser – It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests.

vegetable literacyFor over three decades, Deborah Madison has been at the vanguard of the vegetarian cooking movement, authoring classic books on the subject and emboldening millions of readers to cook simple, elegant, plant-based food.

This groundbreaking new cookbook is Madison’s crowning achievement: a celebration of the diversity of the plant kingdom, and an exploration of the fascinating relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, and familiar wild plants within the same botanical families.

Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables, Vegetable Literacy shows cooks that, because of their shared characteristics, vegetables within the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking. It presents an entirely new way of looking at vegetables, drawing on Madison’s deep knowledge of cooking, gardening, and botany. For example, knowing that dill, chervil, cumin, parsley, coriander, anise, lovage, and caraway come from the umbellifer family makes it clear why they’re such good matches for carrots, also a member of that family. With more than 300 classic and exquisitely simple recipes, Madison brings this wealth of information together in dishes that highlight a world of complementary flavors.

Inspiring improvisation in the kitchen and curiosity in the garden, Vegetable Literacy—an unparalleled look at culinary vegetables and plants—will forever change the way we eat and cook. (description from publisher)

Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1,000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving.

Extensively and painstakingly restored, Jefferson’s unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson’s genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.

Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson’s retirement years (1809-1826). The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries. (description from publisher)

From garden to grill to fork, nothing tastes better than freshly harvested vegetables grilled to perfection alongside savory meats and plump grilled fruits. The Gardener and the Grill by Karen Adler is the grilling guide for gardeners, seasonal eaters, and “flexitarians” everywhere, and anyone enamored of the powers of the grill.

Keep the grill hot long after summer’s finished with Planked Butternut Squash with Sage and Brie; Grilled Gazpacho; a Blackened Fish Po’Boy with Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise; Pizza Primavera; Wood-Grilled Shrimp and Yellow Peppers; Tandoori Turkey Burgers: and Grill-Baked Apples with Cinnamon Nut Stuffing. With seasonal recipes, tips on grilling for preserving, a burgeoning “griller’s pantry” of rubs and versatile sauces, and more than 100 vegetarian recipes, this is the must-have resource for eager and experienced grillers and gardeners alike. (description from publisher)

Eat fruits and vegetables not because you’re told you should, but because you want them in every sense of the word. Because they are beautiful. And satisfying. And you want their freshness, flavor, and simplicity. That’s why Ripe is arranged by color, not season.

Author and food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule and award-winning food photographer Paulette Phlipot, have teamed up to bring inspiration to hungry home cooks. Their goal is not to deliver another lecture on eating for the sake of nutrition or environmental stewardship (though they affirm that both are important), but to tempt others to “embrace the vegetable, behold the fruit” because these foods are versatile, gorgeous, and taste terrific. Starting with red and progressing towards a calmer white, Ripe is arranged by color to showcase the lush, natural beauty of fruits and vegetables. Each is accompanied by a lighthearted essay, breathtaking photography, and one showcase recipe, along with three “quick-hit” recipe ideas. With 150 photos and 75 recipes, this unique cookbook will quicken your pulse and leave you very, very hungry. (description from publisher)

Time to brush off those shovels and start thinking about sprucing up your yard and planting your vegetable garden. Here are some recent titles to inspire you.

The Beginners Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Marie Iannotti – Are heirloom vegetables more difficult to grow than conventional hybrids? This book debunks this myth by highlighting the 100 heirloom vegetables that are the easiest to grow and the tastiest to eat.

Decoding Garden Advice: the Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations by Jeff Gillman – Assess gardening recommendations related to soil, water, pests, diseases, weed control, mulch, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit, and lawn care.

Landscaping for Privacy by Marty Wingate  shows homeowners how to landscape their yards, balconies, and rooftops to enhance privacy by creating buffers to noise, pollution, sun, wind, kids, and dogs with berms or groups of small trees; barriers that deter invasion like living and permanent fences; and screens that will block unwanted sights using hedges

Container Garden Idea Book from Taunton Press – Containers are wonderful accents anywhere in the landscape; this book is an amazing visual clip file with more than 300 photos, plant recipes, and eye-catching designs for container gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Gardenby Andrea Bellamy gives you the dirt on growing gorgeous organic food with very little square footage. Simple, straightforward, design and growing advice can help you transform just a snippet of space into a stylish and edible oasis.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Seed Saving and Starting by Sheri Ann Richerson – Covers all of the essential techniques- harvesting, drying, disease and pest control, testing and germinating, and sowing

Spring arrived officially last night at 6:21pm and after the winter (and snowfall) we’ve been through this year, it didn’t come a minute too soon. OK, this is Iowa, we can’t just pull a switch and have green grass and blooming flowers again, but they’re on their way. And that means it’s just about time to get out into the garden again! That’s where the library comes in – here’s a selection of some of our newly arrived gardening books, guaranteed to spark your imagination and help you plan your best garden yet!

The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook by Jennifer Bartley – This book has it all – design plans, seasonal checklists, recipes, information on plants, growing tips, even flowers for the table. Bright and colorful.

City Farmer : Adventures in Urban Food Growing by Lorraine Johnson – A series of thoughtful essays on the growing popularity of urban food production from homeowners growing tomatoes in the front yard to guerrilla gardeners taking over abandoned city lots.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible : How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs and other Containers by Edward Smith – Discover how easy it is to grow a backyard garden even without a backyard.

Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden by Graham Kerr – Television’s Galloping Gourmet discovers the joy and advantages of growing your own food. Part part cookbook, part gardening book, it’s all lighthearted fun.