As Christmas drew near a friend asked if I his Christmas gift had been delivered. I said no deliveries and then waited every day for my treat to arrive. I did get a Package Too Big notice from the Post Office and picked up this bag of compost that had a mailing label right on the bag. I assumed it was some sort of sample from the Seven Years Gold company, although it did seem an odd time of year to be sending compost samples to Massachusetts. But when my friend arrived for dinner after Christmas he said he couldn’t wait any longer to tell me what was on its way to me – horse manure! Seven Years Gold wasn’t a sample it was my friend who paid attention when I said one of the best gifts I had gotten for my first vegetable garden 40 years ago was a load of rotted horse manure. Friends like this are not easy to come by.
Of course all my friends and family know I love books – and that high cooking and baking season lasts all winter. The stove helps keep the house warm. I was familiar with Nigel Slater (British) from his many inspiring and useful cookbooks, but Yotam Ottolenghi was new to me. Nigel Slater was prompted to write Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch this latest book by his new(ish) passion for gardening. Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, takes a vegetarian approach. I have already made his flavorful Mushroom and herb polenta. Delicious and easy. Although I had never heard of Ginette Mathiot or her cookbooks that are considered the Joy of Cooking of France, I am ready to delve into The Art of French Baking (The definitive guide to home baking by Frances favorite cook book author). I must say the recipes look very easy. We shall see.
Finally, there is a book for bedtime reading. Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers is not the anthology of selections I first thought. There are snippets from each of the authors mentioned from Thomas Jefferson and Gertrude Jekyll to humorists like Karel Capek and artists like Robert Dash, but Rogers gives us a sense of the life and personalities of each. I am savoring each section.
Now here is a question. Although not apparent from a photo, two of the cookbooks, Plenty and The Art of French Baking have padded covers. Is this a new trend? A new style in books? Does it make the books more wipe-able? Any ideas?
This Christmas may be over, but all these gifts, including a candle from the Kringle Candle Company, will keep the memory alive for many years.
ADDENDUM – One way or another I have gotten comments and questions about horse manure – and I found interesting information and comparisons here.