The first thing I want to say about Herbs is how gorgeous it is – even as an ebook. From the cover through the photos that are generously shared throughout the book – each one makes me want to grow herbs and then eat the food made with them.
To be fair, Hann was pushing on a bit of an open door as I have been trying for the last few years to do just what she is looking to help me achieve – a herb garden, one that I can use year round and comes back year on year.
So far, I haven’t been very successful, and my herb garden (now that the summer is over) consists of one surviving plant – sage (which seems to still be going strong). That doesn’t meant that what I planted didn’t grow well this summer, they did, they just didn’t hang around. Reading Herbs, it looks like I’ve made a few rooky mistakes there (choice of soil being the biggest one), but there isn’t anything I can’t fix next year and nothing scary.
Which is the next thing I want to say about Herbs – it is a book that takes the scary out of creating a herb garden and makes you think you can do it. Possibly not surprising as, as well as an author, Hann teaches classes on growing herbs. If her teaching style is anything like her writing style, I bet they would be good classes. She is clear, straight-forward, natural in her delivery, and enthusiastic. I made it an easy, informative, and encouraging read.
The structure of the book really helps, taking you through each season and each of the key herbs from that season, looking at their origins and how best they can be used – including tasty sounding recipes in which to use them. Some of the herbs, like basil, I was very familiar and comfortable with. Others, this book really helped fill in the gaps as to how best to use them – borage for example, which grew like crazy in my previous house and that I never knew what to do with so I just kept cutting it down (which now feels like a sin!).
A big one for me was parsley, which I grew successfully this summer then didn’t know what to do with, palming bunches off to family and friends. For next year, I now have a list of recipes to try – though knowing my luck, the damn thing won’t grow anywhere near as well. There are other things I want to try next year too, like herbed vinegars and ice cubes for those warm summer days. And maybe edible flowers, which are also covered here.
And this leads me to my only criticism, which is not really of the book, but the timing. It came out in mid-September, too late for me really to be able to make use of it until next year. It would have been very nice to have this in the spring so I could plan what I wanted to did. Still, there is next year, and I will definitely be taking advantage of what I’ve learned then.
I liked this book a lot and would recommend it for any green-fingered (or wanna be green-fingered types out there).
About the book…
Herbs have a transformative power – they can lift a dish from ordinary to sublime. Written by a true herb aficionado, this beautiful book is an ode to enjoying herbs all year round. In each seasonal chapter, Judith Hann skillfully weaves together guidance growing – whether you have a full herb garden or simple pots on the windowsill – with delicious, imaginative recipes. Find recipe inspiration for more common herbs and discover how to use those herbs that aren’t so readily available in the supermarket. Judith shares a huge collection of recipes that have been tried and tested at her herb cookery school – from simple herb sauces and salads to more ornate dishes, such as Guinea Fowl with Lovage and Lime, or Spare Ribs with Plum, Chilli and Sage Sauce. It also includes herb features, which provide a wealth of further quick recipes and ideas for:
Pestos, made with a variety of herbs
Herb syrups and sugars
Preserving recipes with herb flavourings
Herb cheeses, and many more
Full of anecdotes, this is a wonderfully personal account of a love affair with herbs, as well as an indispensable guide on how to make the most of them every day.
Published: 21st September, 2017
Find on: Goodreads
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own