book & film reviews

The Gardener and the Cook

The Gardener and the Cook

Now that we are no longer in the restaurant and catering business, Mandolin and I have found we have more time for the things we like to do best; namely gardening, cooking, and playing music.

Our involvement with social media has shown us that there are many people just learning to grow their own food, which of course makes us happy. What makes us sad is the disconnect with our food that we have also seen. A lot of people simply don’t know what to do with what they are growing, or even how it grows. We were surprised a lot ourselves way back when, we understand.

So it seemed a no-brainer to us that we should share what we know on both subjects, which we have been doing here and on our food blog.

We decided to take it a step further, and put this into book form. This way the beginning gardener can have the most important information right at their fingertips. No need to get online and look things up, it’s all in the book.

Included are how to’s for over 40 of the most common veggies, with tips and techniques to help make the whole process more successful.

To that we added more than 100 of our own recipes that focus on what you grow, and numerous pictures to help show you what your veggies and some of the dishes should look like.

This really is a work of heart. I’ll be honest and tell you our royalties for a book sold on Amazon are $1.06. Of course, that does help cover the cost of maintaining the blog, but it isn’t the reason for writing the book.

Y’all are. You, if you are new to gardening and/or cooking, or someone you may know. For that reason we would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word, by sharing this link.

Happy Cooking and Garden On!
~ The Joneses
Find it:
Direct from the publisher
On Amazon


Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews, How to Grow


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Book Review: New England Gardener’s Handbook

Cool Spring Press gave us the opportunity to receive a few books, no strings attached.
We’re game- and if you have been here a while, you know that when we get a book for free we return the favor.

new england gardener's handbook

everything you need to know

At first (judging solely by the cover) this book did not seem terribly impressive, until it was opened.
Holey Moley! Everything about flowers, vines, shrubs and trees as well as herb and vegetables are covered from how to grow them, to upkeep, harvest and storage. Not only are particular plants for the New England region recommended, there are planting dates and a yearly to-do calender.

new england gardener's handbook

not just flowers

The legend listed with each plant includes recommendations for attracting wildlife, good fall color plants, extended bloom flowers, plants that are edible, and more.
Seriously, this fabulous gardening manual would make you want to move to one of the beautiful New England states just to play with it.

new england gardener's handbook

more than just a gardener's guide

So here’s the deal: if you are already lucky enough to live in this section of our country or know someone who does, or even if you are just a nut for gardening books like us, just leave a comment here and on Monday everyone’s name will be placed in an online randomizer (really, it’s painless) and one winner chosen.

new england gardener's handbook

even we learned something here

Cool Spring Press has many other ‘regional’ gardening guides, check them out here.
Most of the plants in this wonderful book are hardy in zones 4-7 and beyond, so this really is a great book for most of y’all.
It may have to be pried out of our hands, but we promise to ship it out.
Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Authors:Jacqueline Heriteau and daughter Holly Hunter Stonehill with Liz Ball, James Fizzelle and Joe Lamp’l
2012 Cool Spring Press
NOTE:And the winner is- Mona! Congratulations!

Categories: book & film reviews



Book Review: “Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening”

“..The No Yard, No Time, No Problem Way To Grow Your Own Food” by William Moss is an excellent and easy to follow book filled with all the information you need to grow food in tight spaces.

Any Size Anywhere Edible Gardening

Moss knows his stuff.
He’s been around gardens all his life, and still grows sweet potatoes from the sweet potato slip his great-grandmother gave him 14 years ago.

Aww…I love it- and I think he solved my ‘Why didn’t I get any sweet potatoes from the home started slips I planted?’ issue.
Thanks William!

The book has everything from selecting containers and specific info on plant varieties that do well in small spots, to planting the seed and following that all the way to your table, including some family recipes to try.

Any Size Anywhere Edible Gardening

Save my sweet taters!

This is an excellent resource if you are new to gardening and especially if you are new to gardening in a small space or in containers.
Even if you are simply looking to expand your garden by adding containers to other areas in your yard, this is worth a read.

To be honest, I usually just peruse books like this, since I already know much of the information.
You can’t help but learn a lot in 30 years. :-P
I found this one fun to read though, Mr. Moss sounds like quite the character, and it shows in his writing style.

The publishing company offered this and a few other books for me to read, in the hopes I would blog about them.
If ever I get something I cannot with full honesty say I like, I send it back.

Edible Gardening in small spaces

When I like it, I write about it- and then I give it away.
So just leave a comment here by midnight est. Sunday Oct. 15th., for a chance to win Edible Gardening. All entries will be put into an online randomizer for a fair chance. If this is your first time commenting you’ll get moderated before your comment shows. This can take a while, but don’t stress it.

If you win the book and you like it, pass the word around.
Even if your name doesn’t come out at the top, please still feel free to share this post.
Good luck and Happy Gardening!

Published by Cool Springs Press 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59186-508-7

NOTE 10/15/12 And the winner is… Cheryl Sigler
Congrats Cheryl and thanks everyone for commenting!

Categories: book & film reviews



Book Review- “A Rich Spot of Earth”

Authored by Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello

A Rich Spot of Earth

A veggie gardener's dream garden

If ever you need a little inspiration to get back out to the garden, this is the perfect book.

The author, who is also the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s home in Virginia, beautifully describes the former President’s deep compassion for working in the soil and most especially for growing food.
My kind of guy.

Gorgeous photos of the gardens at Monticello

gorgeous photos

The photographs are beautiful, the history rich, and the diagrams detailed. You can’t read this book without wanting to order seeds and try new plants.
For example, Jefferson grew nasturtiums not only for their edible flowers, but he used the seeds as pickled capers.

Detailed diagrams of the gardens at Monticello

many detailed diagrams and illustrations

I won’t tell you more, I don’t want to take anything away from the fantastic experience of reading this account not only of a garden’s history, but of a man who worked the soil with his very heart.

History of the gardens at Monticello

and the history of the gardens

Published by Yale University Press
ISBN: 978-0-300-17114-3
Copyright 2012 The Thomas Jefferson Foundation
The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants

The Garden Conservancy is co-sponsoring a talk by Peter Hatch on his book on October 18th, 2012 at the Arnold Arboretum. Details here

Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews


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How to Reap the Most From What You Sow

“A plant’s only goal is to reproduce” my father said during one afternoon visit last winter.
And of course, he’s right.

That simply-stated fact sparked an idea.

how to reap the most from what you sow

a gardener's how-to manual

We continued to discuss how if gardeners knew how a plant reproduces, it would be much easier to learn how to make it produce more.
I’m not talking Botany- no pistols and stamens are mentioned here, intentionally.

tomato flowers

a tomato is born

Now if you’ve been here a while you already know that it bothers me when people complicate things for others- especially when it is my favorite subject.
I have had people tell me they are ‘afraid’ to try to grow their own food because of it.

This is the kind of information I wish I had 25 years ago, and I want you to have access to it without having to wade through tons of verbage and misinformation looking for it.
A guide at first, then a handy reference later- as you become a gardening smarty-pants.

That is why I spent more time keeping this book concise, just 46 pages for over 40 common garden edibles.

pea flower

soon to be a pea

So here’s the deal- it’s First Friday and I’m going to give away 2 signed copies.
Just leave a comment here, and come Monday morning I’ll put all your names into an online randomizer and hit ‘randomize’.
The first 2 will win.

If your name doesn’t come up, or if you prefer to just make a purchase, click on this link to
If you are not into Amazon, let me know- I have another direct link to the publisher.

Better yet- message me and I can send you a signed copy for the same price and possibly less shipping.
Payment would be by Paypal or personal check.

If you’re a home gardener growing food, this manual will pay for itself in no time.

NOTE June 4th.: Thanks all for entering the contest- it was the best response ever! The winners were chosen through and they are: Craig and Ray- Congrats guys!
I do have a limited number of copies I can sign, if anyone wants to purchase one just message me.
Thanks again everyone!

Categories: book & film reviews



Forks Over Knives -pt. 2

I wanted to follow up on the movie review with some information that I’ve gathered.

When I first mentioned this idea to SaveTheWorld she responded “Vegetables have protein?”
Of course we know that shell beans do, but what other veggies and how much?

home canned foods

whats in your fridge

While the video suggests eating 5% or less of your protein from plant foods- that information wasn’t as specific as what Mandolin and I needed to start meal planning.
So I did a little research- and was quite surprised!

Q: How much protein do I need?
A: Adults need about 50 grams (-10% for women, + 10 % for men) per day.

That would mean they are suggesting you consume about 47.5 grams of protein from plants, and only 2.5 grams from animals.
Hmm…Stay with me here…this is doable. ;-)

Keep in mind you can eat more than 50 grams of protein. But that will be more calories, and you still need to keep that ratio if you are looking for disease prevention or reversal.

So I proceeded to find out how many grams of protein -and how many calories, to help keep it in perspective- are in a few typical food items.

The amounts are all based on a 4-ounce raw portion.
Note that rice and quinoa will double in volume, as will dry beans- and other items will shrink.

Also know that I’m not a dietician (I just play one on TV). :-)
I used the Nutritional Analysis Tool to get these numbers:

Animal Based Foods

~Milk, 1% Fat: 4 g – 48 calories
~Mozzarella, whole milk: 22 g – 319 calories
~Colby: 27 g – 447 calories
~Eggs (2 large): 12.4 g – 150 calories
~Tuna: 29 g – 131.5 calories
~Orange Roughy Fish: 16.7 g – 143 calories
~Pink Salmon: 22.5 g – 131.5 calories
~Chicken: 24 g – 168 calories
~Pork: 19 g – 298 calories
~Beef: 20 g – 299 calories

Vegetable & Grain Based Foods
~Spinach: 3.3 g -25 calories
~Broccoli: 3.4 g – 32 calories (cauliflower similar)
~Shell Beans, Dry: 24g – 388 calories (remember this is measured raw, not cooked or canned)
~Potatoes: 3 g -66 calories
~Sweet potatoes: 2 g -119 calories
~Corn: 11 g – 414 calories
~Quinoa: 15 g – 424 calories
~Spinach Pasta: 13 g – 308 calories
~Wild Rice: 16.7 g – 404 calories

our fridge

limit the eggs, relish the taters

So, what does this all mean?
It would mean really limiting your intake of animal products.
For us, we were doing this anyway- or so we thought.

I would think nothing of eating an egg & cheese sandwich with a glass of milk for breakfast.
Or of having an entire 5.5 oz can of tuna on lettuce for lunch- of course, with another glass of milk.

Instead, on this menu I think I would save up all my animal protein grams and thoroughly enjoy one really great (reasonably portioned) meal on the weekend.
During the week we will be coming up with recipes worth making.

Pink Beans

think veggie

A friend of mine told me about this video a few weeks ago.
In the first two weeks of changing what she ate (which also wasn’t all that bad) she lost 6 pounds.
The next week when I saw her she looked younger, her skin was bright and she seemed to have much more energy.
It reminded me of a story from 19 years ago, when we were in the restaurant business and I was a vegetarian.

A customer stopped me one afternoon-
“I’ll bet you’re a vegetarian.” he said.
“Yes, but how did you know?”
“I can see it in your skin, and in the energy level you move with.”

He saw what I felt.

in the garden

eat to live

Now I am currently on a low dose med for high blood pressure.
Mandolin and I are teetering (I’m closer to the edge) of needing to take cholesterol meds as well.
Diabetes runs in both our families.

We don’t want to go there- to a shoebox full of ‘his and hers’ medications.
So we’re going here instead, together.
And we’ll show you every step we take.

Even if you don’t go to this extent, please beware of fast foods and processed foods.
And if you’re serious about your health and that of your family, consider watching the movie.

Pink Bean Recipe

Categories: book & film reviews, gardening people, places & things, Recipes, you are what you eat


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Movie Review- Forks Over Knives

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~Thomas Edison

forks over knives

you are what you eat

‘About 40% of Americans are obese…and about half of all Americans are on some form of medication.’

Can you imagine preventing or reversing Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure- and even treating Infertility with just simple diet changes?

We know what we are supposed to do- but we continue to NOT do it.
And yet we are surprised when our cholesterol is high or we need meds for our blood pressure.

This is an extremely simple movie about the studies- done separately but at the same time- of two Doctors; and the results they and other Docs have seen.

They don’t tell you to become a Vegan- or even to give up meat.
Just to limit it. Get rid of the processed stuff. Eat plants mostly.

Why do diets in other countries that are high in carbs but low in animal fats lead to low incidences of diabetes?
They answer that and similar questions.

If you are at risk for any of these conditions- including some cancers- you just may want to check this movie out.
Do you Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

Is it easier to pick up a Bacon Double Cheeseburger than to exercise- heck yes!
But is it easier to recover from a heart attack than to prevent one- heck no!

I think the hard part is finding recipes, making changes that you and your family can deal with.
Especially if, like many kids, the food choices (at school) are limited.

Last Saturday, this was my food intake:
Breakfast- a slice of whole grain bread with blackberry jam, skim milk
Lunch (out)- scallops wrapped in bacon, baked Brie with fresh fruit, Spaten Draft :-)
Dinner- Ham Steak with Mustard-Green beans

Most weeks, I only eat meat maybe twice- but this kind of meat throughout the day is very common in America.

So I would highly recommend you watch this film, especially if you or a family member has or is at risk for any of these conditions.
And Mandolin and I- as we are heading away from a high animal product intake to a low one- will do our best to provide recipes.

If you already are eating like this and would be willing to share to help others- please contact me!
In the meantime, here are a few links to help you live healthier:

Get the Film
Sample Recipes

Let me just ask you this- If, God forbid- you were diagnosed tomorrow with a disease that just changing your diet could reverse- would you?
Don’t wait for that diagnosis… you mean too much to me and others.

Categories: book & film reviews


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Book Review- Bringing Nature Home

Another beautifully illustrated and knowledge-packed book from Timber Press- and it could be yours!

Bringing Nature Home

The quote at the top says it all.

Here’s the G.J. notes:

Say Bluebirds are native to an area- I’ll call it B.B.Ville.
And say Bluebirds eat a particular bug they need to survive, let’s call that the Beebee Bug.

Hey, when I keep it simple, I really keep it simple.

So now let’s say the Beebee Bug needs a particular plant (I bet you guessed it already!) the Beebee Plant to survive, a plant that has been growing in B.B.Ville for thousands of years, maybe longer.

Then suppose someone buys a piece of land in B.B.Ville and rips all the Beebee Plants out.
Instead they plant the ZeeZee Plant-which of course is nothing like the native plant at all.

But it sure looks nice.

What happens?
No more Bluebirds.

Bringing Nature Home

beautiful pictures

“Oh but wait” they say, “I’m also planting this variety of Beebee Plant, the Ceebee Plant, that my family brought over here from only a few thousand miles away 100 years ago, surely the Beebee Bug will eat that instead.
Maybe- maybe not.

And what if the Zeezee Plant had bugs on it foreign to B.B.Ville- what damage might they do to other plants in the area?

“Well, what if I plant some Beabea Plants- they are native and closely related to the BeeBee.”
Okay, that may work.

This is the basic principle of this book- if you want to keep nature alive and doing well, as it does naturally, you have to know what you are doing before you mess with it.

Bringing Nature Home

Black Swallowtail Larvae lives on Dill, a close relative of its native plant preference.

There seems to be a growing movement (pun intended) to bringing nature back, especially in the suburbs.
Sustaining Nature- gotta love it.
If this is something you are interested in, this book is a must read.

Bringing Nature Home

With a face even a bug would love.

A definite must-read for any landscaper who wants to upgrade their service by making true native plants a part of what they offer- I say ‘true natives’ because there are some who think a plant is native if it has been growing in the area for 100 years (see above).

Author Douglas W. Tallamy calls that “a drop in the bucket” for nature.

I very gently read this book, so you could even give it as a gift.
After all, two green thumbs were gently holding it. :-)

If you’d like a chance to win it, just leave a comment here on the blog.
One person will be chosen on Monday 12/5/11 using the online randomizer.
Of course, I pay shipping and I’ll get to you ASAP.

Oh and if this is your first time commenting- I just need to approve it before you see it posted.

Good luck!
NOTE 12/5/11 And the winner is~
nhgarden- their name came up first through the list randomizer at
Thanks all who entered!

ISBN: 13: 978-0-88192-992-8
Author Douglas W. Tallamy (who even took many of the photos!)
Attracting butterflies to your garden.

Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews



Book Review- The Amercian Meadow Garden

“If there’s one lesson every homeowner must learn, it’s this: the traditional lawn is a huge, time-consuming, water-guzzling, synthetic-chemical-sucking mistake. The time has come to look for new ways to create friendly, livable spaces around our homes.” from The American Meadow Garden

The American Meadow Garden

The American Meadow Garden

I couldn’t agree more.
It’s been my goal to get rid of all the lawn that came with our house and I’ve been doing that little by little, primarily with my edible gardens.

why create a meadow garden?

pick any one or all

There’s still land that has to be transformed, and with less needed maintenance that growing fruits and veggies requires.

This wonderful book by John Greenlee and photos by Saxon Holt has given me the knowledge I need to finish the job.

livable meadows

a patio to live in

All the info you can want on different meadow type plants (not just grasses!) and how and where they grow is in there.
How to plant them is in there, too.
How to maintain the meadow- you got it, that information is in the book.

back and front yard meadows

lawn begone

Wouldn’t neighborhoods look so much better, and be better for the economy and nature, if we all did this?

home meadow

picture this outside your window

Leave a comment below for a chance to win this fabulous book.
I’ll put all your names into an online randomizer on Monday and see who comes up first.

If you don’t win this book, buy it- read it and share it-
share it with your neighbors and your neighborhood associations if you have one…

meadow wanted

sorely needed- one lovely meadow

… and spread the beauty.

Published by Timber Press
ISBN-13 #: 978-0-88192-871-6

NOTE 11/7/2011 Thank you all for your comments and entering the contest. The winner through online Randomizer is Jean Norstrom. Congrats Jean!

Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews



Book Review- The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes

Sometimes things seem like a good idea at the time, you know?

Such was the case when Mandolin suggested:
“Why don’t you give away all those Timber Press books you won on your blog?”

the handbook of natural plant dyes

all the info you need

But actually, it has been fun…just much harder to do than I expected.

Now if you’re thinking here, “Well, I’m not a crafter-of-fabric-kind-of-person, and therefore I don’t need this book…” you should know that I read these books very gently, so gently in fact that they are like new when I give them away.
Therefore, they also make great gifts.

the handbook of natural plant dyes

the what nots

I really do love this book by Sasha Duerr.
Even though it’s just 170 pages, it has everything you need to know from what to plant, how to harvest, and how to dye…

the handbook of natural plant dyes

and the how to's

…and how to design a garden just for growing dyes, scoping out the neighborhood, making your own solar dying oven and more.

My favorite part was her comment (not a direct quote) that you don’t need to worry if colors will go together- natural colors always do.
“That makes sense” said SaveTheWorld. Yeah, it does.

I planned to do a project to demonstrate, but didn’t get to it yet;
and I wanted to get this out to you in time to either make gifts or give as a gift for the holidays.
So I took the notes I needed, and here it is.

natural fabric dyes

gather your ingredients

So I have what I need to make a throw to use this winter when I’m reclining on the sofa, perusing seed catalogs.
As the snow falls, I’ll have a little bit of nature to keep me warm.

If you’d like a shot at winning this book, just leave a comment below.
If it’s your first time, it’ll need to be approved by me first.
I will be out on an excellent adventure most of the day today, but I’ll get those approvals through when I return.

Now you do have all weekend. I’ll do a drawing using the online randomizer on Tuesday morning.
Spread the word, tell your friends (maybe they’ll give it to you as a gift.)
I will ship worldwide, so give it a go even if you’re not in the US.

Good luck- and as always, I appreciate you stopping by!

10/11/11 Update
And the winner is… Sherrie!

Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews



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