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Part how-to-garden primer, The Arrows Cookbook combines more than 150 delicious recipes with time-tested techniques for growing herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers in a book that reconnects us to the land and the seasons.
Cooking food from the backyard garden or farmers' market -- or even using herbs grown in pots in a sunny window -- goes beyond a passion for freshness. On an elemental level, the process reawakens the cook to a cycle of nature that our ancestors understood intuitively but that, for most of us, has been lost in the modern world.
When chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier left northern California to open their dream restaurant in southern Maine, they had no intention of becoming culinary pioneers. But in 1988 in Ogunquit, Maine, finding enough fresh vegetables and herbs to power a sophisticated restaurant was indeed a challenge.
So, like all can-do Americans, they did something. A ragged field of witchgrass behind the restaurant was turned into a garden where they learned to coax a nine-month growing season out of the chilly earth. They built raised beds, saved seeds, researched heirlooms, consulted experts, and started seedlings.
Today, that acre of Maine yields 270 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and edible flowers that provide 90 percent of the produce served at Arrows. Born of great necessity, the garden is the soul of this destination restaurant.
In The Arrows Cookbook, Frasier and Gaier tell us how they do it, charting the timeless journey from seed to supper. Recipes celebrate each season -- Asparagus with Mizuna and Blood Orange Vinaigrette and English Pea Soup in spring; Grilled Antipasto Platter and Rib-Eye Steak with Herbs and Caramelized Onions on a summer evening; Napa Cabbage and Apple Cole Slaw and Roast Pork Loin with Rosemary and Garlic for fall; and Escarole and White Bean Soup and Winter Greens with Pink Grapefruit and Red Onion for the chilly, short days of winter. They also offer new takes on such New England classics as Boiled Dinner, Our Way to Steaming Lobster -- Southeast Asian Style, as well as a glorious Thanksgiving feast complete with Roast Turkey with Gravy.
The book is full of clear advice and instructions that will make you elegantly self-sufficient in both kitchen and garden: how to smoke a trout, preserve herbs, use raised beds to extend the growing season, make your own prosciutto, start seeds indoors, roast salmon on a plank, maximize garden space, freeze berries, select edible flowers, grow heirloom tomatoes, pickle hot peppers, find local farmers and fisherman for fresh meats and seafood, and more.