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Farmers Market Cookbook

      Farmers Market Cookbook: fresh, seasonal, tasty—it's true! Nothing tastes better than fresh, seasonal, local fruits and vegetables … juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes; crunchy, sweet bell peppers; and crispy, tart apples. This colorful little cookbook offers recipes for 13 vegetables (asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, greens, green beans, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash, and winter squash) and 3 kinds of fruits (apples, berries, and melons) typically available at farmers’ markets in North America.
      You'll find 2 recipes for each product, except for summer and winter squash, for which there are 3. Recipes include nutrition information for calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, sodium, and fiber. Although the book does not say so, I assumed the nutrition information was based on 1 serving. Besides the recipes, there is an abbreviated in-season guide, tips for shopping at farmers’ markets, and some basic food safety.
      Each product has information about selection and storage and some tips on substitutions or preparation and safe handling, such as the importance of washing the outside of melons before cutting them. The recipes are not too complex; they require minimal skills, some understanding of terms such as whisk and florets, and basic utensils and equipment. The photography is deliciously appetizing and the cookbook is spiral bound with heavy, glossy paper stock that can withstand spills and dribbles.
      Many of the recipes seem to be tasty and I look forward to trying the Asparagus Frittata, Crunchy Pepper and Barley Salad, Sesame Ginger Green Beans, and Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas. I think the flavor profiles in the recipes could be more varied. The major seasonings are salt (in my opinion, sometimes too much), pepper, and garlic or garlic powder in most of the savory items. Other than Mexican flavors in several recipes (cumin, cilantro, and chili powder) and a couple of curries, the only herbs I could find were some dill in a cucumber salad, Italian seasoning in a zucchini dish, and parsley in a tomato salad. Where is the fresh basil? Options for using other herbs to change the flavor of the recipes are important. Experienced cooks can figure this out, but for beginners, some ideas for different seasonings would be welcomed.
      In some cases, the featured product is not the lead actor. The Autumn Oatmeal serves 4 but has only 1 apple in it; the Barley and Pepper Salad I want to try serves 6 and calls for 1 pepper, and the recipe for Swiss chard uses 2 leaves. Options or other ideas to tweak the recipes or make them more interesting are missing. For example, both bell pepper recipes use red peppers when any color would work. Also, adding some corn and chopped tomatoes to the Fiesta Stuffed Peppers would be tasty. I also like to include menu ideas with a recipe: What other foods, including some from the cookbook, would go well with this recipe to make a balanced meal?
      Farmers’ market cookbooks are essential for helping customers know how to prepare fresh produce in ways they and their families will enjoy. This cookbook has the potential to meet that need.