A few weeks ago, someone on a gardening forum mentioned that one of her favorite cookbooks was called “Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things: A Cookbook For When Your Garden Explodes” by Lois M. Burrows and Laura G. Myers. The title alone convinced me that it was probably right up my alley. Given the size of our garden, we are routinely drowning in a variety of tasty, but sometimes repetitive, veggies.
Unfortunately, this cookbook was not available new through amazon.ca or amazon.com. Luckily, there were secondhand copies available, and I ordered one for eighty-eight cents (plus seven dollars shipping), thinking that even if it sucked, I wasn’t out a whole bunch.
Too Many Tomatoes arrived in my mail on Friday. A quick perusal of the recipes confirmed that this is the practical sort of cookbook that I find useful; it is full of basic recipes that use common ingredients, rather than unpronounceable things that I have to go to specialty stores in order to find. The seasonings lean heavily to the salt-pepper-garlic end of the cooking spectrum, with a special emphasis on butter, eggs, cheese, and heavy cream. Yum! Not especially surprising for a book that was copyrighted in 1976, but refreshing in these days of low-fat sugar-free everything.
A nice feature of the cookbook is that it is organized by vegetable, rather than by type of dish (like appetizers, mains, or desserts). All of the asparagus recipes are in one place, for instance. The book covers a good range of the usual garden vegetables, including beets, squash, eggplant, spinach, cabbage and tomatoes. There are even a few canning recipes, though they are mostly various for pickles. Recipes range from standards like pumpkin pie, coleslaw, and spinach quiche to unusual recipes like cabbage streudel and chard-sausage stuffing. There are also a variety of international dishes represented, including spanakopita, enchaladas, and beef sukiyaki.
This is not an allergy-friendly cookbook, as the majority of the recipes include dairy, eggs, or flour. However, it is a well-organized book of simple recipes that use common ingredients, and I would recommend it to anyone who gets overwhelmed at harvest time. At the very least, you can use it as a jumping-off point for inventing your own recipes; I wouldn’t have thought, for instance, of using cucumber in a stir-fry, but Too Many Tomatoes has a recipe for shrimp and cucumber fried rice, which sounds pretty tasty. If you can find a copy, grab it!