Patricia Moore-Pastides’ latest cookbook “Greek Revival: From the Garden, Growing and Cooking for Life” is more than just a cookbook. It is a comprehensive look at the process of growing and then preparing fresh vegetables and herbs from your own garden.
It asks the reader, who may have never gardened before, to try their hand at something as small as a one-pot container filled with lettuces and herbs for a simple salad garden and to taste and learn the benefits of fresh-from-the-
garden produce. And asks the seasoned gardener to try something new, just for a change (in Moore-Pastides’ case, something new was bitter melon. Beautiful to look at, difficult to eat).
The book is targeted toward a young adult audience (published under the Young Palmetto Books imprint of USC Press, in collaboration with the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy), but readers of any age will benefit and appreciate the details given for starting a garden or expanding an existing garden into a series of raised beds or beyond. Moore-Pastides’ hope is that if young kids become interested in growing vegetables, then they would be more open to eating them.
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The book is divided into three sections: nutrition, gardening and cooking.
Each section gives a basic overview of the topic at hand and covers basic tools and techniques to get you or your young ones started in the garden and in the kitchen.
(In gardening, there is a how-to guide on composting and tips for reducing garden pests. In cooking, the recipes are sorted by the type of vegetables that you may have grown and provides easy-to-follow instructions that, with a bit of guidance, children can prepare.)
Moore-Pastides is a proponent of the Mediterranean Diet: a diet heavy on fresh vegetables and fruit with fish and plant-based proteins (beans, whole grains and nuts) and a moderate intake of dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt), extra virgin olive oil as the primary source of fat and moderate consumption of wine with meals. The foods are not processed and if there is meat in the diet, it should be used sparingly (almost as a flavoring rather than a serving) and as close to free range and hormone free as possible. Herbs can be used to add flavor rather than salt.
Recipes in this book were gleaned from friends and family and favorites from students that she has taught during classes at Columbia’s Cooking! In fact, there is only one recipe in this new cookbook that features meat (Parsleyed Meatballs in Cinnamony Tomato Sauce; it’s listed under the “Herbs” category).
After a chat, Moore-Pastides gave me a tour of the gardens behind the President’s House at USC.
She and gardener Charlie Ryan have planned and worked a formal garden with a pomegranate tree along one wall and beautiful purple hyacinth bean vine trailing along the gate opposite.
The bright magenta seeds of a bitter melon that has split open are a high contrast to the bright yellow fruit’s interior. The plant was an experiment in gardening: choose a plant or seed that you’ve never tried before just to see what happens.
Further along, what began as an attempt to create a formal herb and vegetable garden went awry when rosemary, which was being used as a border, ran amok.
Potted gardens (multiple plantings in a single large pot) include a salad garden with various lettuces, and a pizza garden featuring tomatoes and herbs.
While the summer gardening season is winding down, fall and spring are just around the corner. This is a great book to get you (and your family) motivated to try something new.