Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review - Tomtoes Garlic Basil

I just finished reading another book that we purchased at the 2012 Mother Earth News Fair. It is taking me a while, but I am slowly getting through everything we purchased at the event. Finishing Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden's Most Versatile Veggies by Doug Oster is my most recent accomplishment.

This book caught our attention when we were browsing at the publisher's booth. We realized that Andrea was planning to attend a workshop led by the author, so decided to wait until afterwards to decide if we wanted to buy the book. She apparently enjoyed the workshop, because she stopped back by the St. Lynn's Press booth later and picked it up.

After several book reviews I am coming to the realization that I have generally high expectations, or at least different expectations that most. This book is yet another that was not quite what I expected. Fortunately, this time, I found myself pleased with the book, even though it wasn't what I thought it would be.

The book is divided into five sections: "Food, Family & Gardens", "Some Garden Basics", "Tomatoes", "Garlic", and "Basil". The first two sections, which take up roughly a quarter of the book aren't really about tomatoes, garlic, and basil at all, at least not directly. These sections, however, were very enjoyable. I felt that they were a great start to the book, as they provide some insight into the author's background and his passion for gardening.

The largest section, by far, was the one on tomatoes. After reading the first couple of sections, this was expected, as it became clear that the author has a special passion for tomatoes. This was the least interesting section to me, since I do not eat tomatoes. It was still informative, though, and I picked up a few useful tips for the few tomatoes that we do grow.

The sections on garlic and basil were less informative, but still contained some useful information. Of course, after having read Ron L Engeland's Growing Great Garlic, its hard not to be somewhat disappointed in the coverage of the topic given in any book that isn't dedicated entirely to the subject.

I had hoped that the book would focus more on the three plants as a group, rather than focus on them individually. While there were some recipes that include all three ingredients, the coverage of them was otherwise separate. The section for either plant could be presented on its own, and one would never realize that it had originally been presented as part of a book on all three. I had hoped to find some information on companion planting, as I've heard that basil and tomatoes are good companions.

Speaking of recipes, I wasn't overly thrilled to find that the book dedicated many pages to the thirty-one recipes scattered throughout. Maybe I would have enjoyed the fact, if more of them had been appealing to me. I found, though, that there were only a few I would be interested in trying, and two of those were pesto recipes. Of course part of the reason for this is that I do not eat tomatoes, which was an ingredient in the vast majority of the recipes presented in the book. I suspect that if I weren't such a picky eater, and especially if I enjoyed tomatoes, I might have viewed the recipes differently. Other readers may enjoy them.

While I didn't learn as much from the book as I had hoped, I still enjoyed reading it. I suspect that someone more interested in tomatoes might enjoy the book even more. I am certainly glad to have picked the book up, and think it is a worthwhile read.

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