This is the revised edition of the original Fork to Fork of a decade ago. A few things have changed on the home-growing front in those ten years. We are all a lot more mindful of food miles so a book that presents a real opportunity to pare those miles to yards is bound to be welcome.
Monty Don has been a familiar face on BBC Gardeners World for 5 years or so. He is not only passionate about gardening in front of the camera but lives the life he preaches. He and his wife Sarah have an organic garden that feeds family and friends in fine style.
Fork to Fork is an apt title for a book that does indeed chart the progress of food from the ground up. Is it a gardening book with recipes or a cookbook with a spot of horticulture? Hard to say, but however you choose to describe it the book works. The volume looks the part with its distinctive jacket (well, more of a cummerbund, in the form of a band round the middle) and heavy-duty card cover; this is a book that will improve with age and use.
Fork to Fork will encourage many hardy sorts to go and find a vacant allotment (good luck, you’ll need it), and others to have a go at growing a few veggies in a small garden. You’ll obviously grow more in a bigger space, but how pleasing it is (not to mention much cheaper) to grow even your own herbs in a window box.
Each chapter considers a particular month. There is plenty of advice about planting and propagation and all written with the conversational style that was so enjoyed by viewers of Gardeners World. The recipes are a delight. The book is about growing and enjoying vegetables and fruit but the authors are not vegetarian and don’t assume you are. It’s a book about the best of cooking in all its forms.
The food is old-fashioned and comforting. Those dishes that were considered as passé a few years ago are enjoying something of a revival. We are now more concerned about quality and simplicity than extravagance and culinary bling. Puddings, crumbles, sausages are the order of the day but add in some contemporary twists and you have a recipe book that keeps the best of the past and marries it with new ideas, a dash of olive oil (thought in the past only to be good for ear-aches) and even some garlic!
I have several must-tries from Fork to Fork. Raised Chicken and Pork Pie is surprisingly easy to make but the result is stunning. Individual pies are made using a jam jar as a mould. The filling is seasoned with nutmeg, sage and cider brandy (but use a dash of calvados if you can’t find that). Damson Sorbet has full marks for colourful impact. It only has three ingredients and, being made ahead, will be a no-stress dinner party stunner.
Fork to Fork is a volume that will be appealing to both gardener and cook. Anyone starting a new vegetable patch will be glad of Monty’s advice, but this is a book also to be enjoyed by those who have no garden at all but would like to understand what is in season and when, and who want to cook with the ever-changing seasonal produce.
Cookbook Review: Fork to Fork
Authors: Monty and Sarah Don
Published by: Conran Octopus
Gardening and Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018