Depending on which generation you belong to, you either remember Graham Kerr cooking on TV using copious amounts of butter, oil, and cream, or you remember Graham Kerr cooking on TV, removing the butter, oil, and cream from recipes. During his early TV career as The Galloping Gourmet in the early 1970s, he earned a Broken Wooden Spoon award from Weight Watchers. The company described him public enemy #1 to healthy eating.
Fast-forward 20 years, and his program Graham Kerr--produced by KING-TV--focused on removing harmful and fattening saturated fats from food. Today, Kerr lives in the Skagit Valley with his wife, and after 40-plus years as a culinary educator, television chef, and cookbook author, he has planted his first kitchen garden. Growing at the Speed of Life chronicles the first year of Kerr's garden, and serves as part cookbook and part garden manual.
From the beginning of this book, Kerr writes from a deeply personal perspective that makes Growing at the Speed of Life feel a lot like a memoir. This tone continues through the gardening how-to chapters, making it feel less like a gardening manual, even though it is packed with useful advice like how to germinate seeds and control pests. Kerr is a natural and enthusiastic teacher. He loves acronyms (FABIS = fresh and best in season; TACT = taste, aroma, color, and texture) and exclamation points, and uses them often to remind you that cooking and eating healthy is fun!
The majority of the book is dedicated to 60 or so garden fruits and vegetables Kerr grew. Each plant is illustrated with planting and growth measurements and introduced with a little history about the plant plus interesting anecdotes. There are sidebars with basic growing information and nutritional information, and each plant description is followed by three to seven recipes using that fruit or vegetable. The recipes are generally very healthy, and the book's appendix includes recipes for what Kerr calls "Ethmixes." These blends combine herbs and spices for various ethnic tastes. There's a blend for Scandinavia with caraway seeds, dried morel mushroom powder, allspice, and other spices. The Thailand mix includes dried spearmint, lemongrass, and cilantro. Who needs butter and cream?
Read Part II of this week's Cooking the Books and a recipe from Growing at the Speed of Life.