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Cool Basil from Garden to Table: How to…
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Cool Basil from Garden to Table: How to Plant, Grow, and Prepare Basil…

by Katherine Hengel

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I really like the combination of gardening/cooking books that DK produces and I've not yet found another publisher with a similar offering. However, this new series from ABDO's Checkboard How-To Library comes close.

There are actually six volumes in the series, but I just picked two to look at, Cool Basil and Cool Green Beans.

Each book has the same basic components, but they're changed a little for the different subjects. The books open with a page on why you should grow your own food, then an explanation of the main subject food and some samples of different types. As a side note, I had no idea there were different kinds of basil. There's lemon basil! I want some! Unfortunately, you need sun for basil and I don't have any. There's a nicely detailed guide on how to grow the items in a container. The green beans guide suggests fertilizing, but doesn't give any details on specific fertilizers or organic vs. chemicals. There's a quick Q & A with what to do if your plants get a disease, don't produce beans, etc. Once you've followed the directions on the harvesting page, it's time to move on to the cooking.

It starts with a pictorial "cool ingredients" guide. Cool Basil includes simple instructions for making pesto on this page, Cool Green Beans includes an allergy warning. Kitchen tools come next and cooking terms. I noticed they changed the photographs and instructions slightly on these, so they're adapted to the specific ingredients and not just copied over from book to book.

Cool Basil includes recipes for basil parmesan dip, pizza Margherita, tomato basil soup, Thai noodles and basil, cheese & pesto Sammy, and basil-lemon cake. Cool Green Beans includes recipes for sesame green beans, green bean penne, green bean salad, bean & ham soup, green bean casserole, and citrus zest beans.

Each recipe lists ingredients and tools, has clip art indicating if a hot stove or sharp knife will be used, and includes simple pictures illustrating the steps in the recipe. The books end with an encouragement to keep growing and cooking your own food, a glossary, and index.

Verdict: There's a lot of information packed into these 32-page volumes and they're very nicely organized with a nice variety of recipes. If you are looking for more gardening/cooking books, these are probably your best bet, but they are fairly expensive, as are most library bound titles especially from ABDO. If you buy the whole set at once, it works out to about $22 per volume which always seems a little much to me for any book under 50 pages. However, they're very attractive books and I think we'll get a lot of use out of them at my library. I plan to purchase them next year in the spring.

Cool Basil
ISBN: 9781617831829; Published 2012 by ABDO; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Cool Green Beans
ISBN: 9781617831843; Published 2012 by ABDO; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Jun 1, 2013 |
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Examines growing basil at home, including the growth process, its uses once ripe, and recipes for homegrown basil dishes.

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