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Ripe for reading, ripe for eating…and a giveaway!

October 2, 2012

If you’re reading this blog because you either love fruits and vegetables or wish you wanted to, then it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Ripe: A fresh, colorful approach to fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re in the first or second camp, it will broaden your horizons – this is a compendium that you’ll want to read and stare longingly at over a cup of tea, but it is also useful enough to avoid gathering dust on the coffee table. I’ll be honest, I fell in love with this book before reading it, but you’ll be glad to know that upon requesting and kindly receiving a copy to review, my expectations were exceeded.

Ripe is everything I believe in – an enticement to appreciate fruits and vegetables, rather than a prescription. It’s even more than that though – it is the best combination of bedtime reading, recipes, food porn and cooking guidance I’ve come across. It’s the sort of book you can pick up an read for both entertainment and entertaining, for a few minutes or for a whole afternoon. Few books have made me nod like a puppy, drool, giggle – all while miraculously learning about how I could overcome my distrust of brussel sprouts. Each fruit/vegetable is gorgeously photographed, and has a story, a tip, three simple uses, and a pretty recipe.

The recipes and “simple uses” are an excellent balance between real classics and are-you-for-real creativity that open your eyes to new horizons. It’s this balance, combined with the relaxed, personalised writing style that makes you feel both at ease and invigorated to reach for something different the next time you go to the market. I love the extreme casual-ness of the “simple uses” as well, and the adaptability of the recipes – they make the book practical as well as pretty.

My only criticism (if you can even call it that) would be that I’d like to see an extended version – maybe a book for each colour even. It’s not every day you stumble across a premise, writer & photographer combination this fantastic. If it were me, I’d add a few universal grower’s notes too where possible, for the renewed interest in gardening that is sweeping the foodiesphere. I would also prefer the buying tips and flavour profiles to be included more consistently (perhaps as a dedicated section), which would give readers an even more powerful knowledge base. There are of course books that already do this, but as far as I know, few have done it in a way that makes for good curl-up-on-the-couch reading, and certainly even fewer are so beautifully presented too. If I wasn’t already converted to eating more fruits and vegetables than necessary, this would be one of those life-changing books that changes the way I eat for the better (much like Artisan Bread in 5). One line really sticks out to me – “Our species thrives because we’ve learned to glorify modest foods” – this is clearly written by someone who doesn’t expect every reader to have a chef’s pantry and kitchen, yet doesn’t want to patronise you either. It’s approachable whether you have a small budget or just don’t want to blow it. Either way, it’s very refreshing.

EDIT: Thank you for all the fantastic ideas in the comments! Congratulations to Leaf, who was drawn as the winner of the book. If you’re Australia, you can get the book straight from the publisher, or if you’re in New Zealand, Fishpond stocks it with free shipping (and you can preview the book too, although if you want more sample recipes and blogger reviews, there are plenty of them!).

Here’s a little something I whipped up from the “simple uses” page on green beans, by tossing with some cherry tomatoes, olive tapenade and olive oil. Instead of blanching the beans in water, I seared them on a single layer whilst covered to bring out a little more of their sweetness and keep all their flavour in tact. Once their black on the underside, you leave them in the pan with the lid on until they’re cooked to your liking, and meanwhile you can chop the tomatoes and toss them in tapenade. A beautifully fresh, simple side.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2012 9:36 pm

    How gorgeous, sounds like a fab book! I’m loving baby carrots – they are adorable! I used them for the first time recently & really want to make more tasty dishes. Any suggestions?

  2. October 2, 2012 9:48 pm

    Yum, I love baby carrots raw, dipped in a low-salt miso honey and sesame oil dip. Although given all the fresh herbs popping up at the moment, a salty yogurt, olive oil & herb dip would be pretty good too! What did you do with the last ones?

  3. Zoe permalink
    October 2, 2012 10:13 pm

    This book looks amazing.

    My all time fav fruit is fejoas! Not in season at the moment sadly.The best way to eat them is fresh from the tree when you can’t even wait to get them inside to get a spoon so you just break them open and land up with juice all over your face.

    I was so surprised when I watched the current season of MKR and found out no one in Australia has heard of fejoas.

  4. October 3, 2012 2:06 am

    Looks fantastic! I love that close-up photo of the fava beans.
    I’m in Australia. I’ve been eating a lot of bok choy lately… steamed, stir-fried, added to noodle soups… so versatile!

  5. October 3, 2012 2:08 am

    Cauliflower. I’ve struggled with it, only liking it in tiny bits in a stir fry. Until I tried a whole baked cauliflower, crusted in tandoori (spices and thick greek yoghurt), just last week – NOM! I’m not the hugest cauliflower fan, but slicing into a whole, spicy cauli on the table is WONDERFUL! A new find – you’ll see it on My New Roots blog. A great addition to a vegetarian Indian night. My sister (in NZ) would love this book. Unlike me right now she actually has a garden cranking, a gorgeous huge garden she has designed and developed from nothing, creating wonderful produce that she’s not always sure how to utilise. I’ll definitely get her onto this book – perhaps an upcoming birthday present!

  6. October 3, 2012 2:30 am

    Hi there..
    Just by looking at the book cover, would make anyone to fall for the book instantly..
    I like the color and that apple..really look delicious…

    I loves any kinds of fruits..anything found in Malaysia, or anything I could find anywhere in the places I’ve been, I will even try new, strange fruits….

    But, of course, being in Malaysia, my favorite fruit would be DURIAN..hope you know it..
    we called it the KING of all fruits here, especially within Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia or even Thailand.

    Normally, I’ll take it just as it is when its ripe…
    but when it comes to the season, there would be so much until you need to preserved it…
    one of the way I’ll do is to make in into porridge…sweet one…just cooked those thick, creamy fruit into the coconut milk, top up with just little bit of brown sugar and cooked it with ‘pandan’ leafs..I don’t know whether you have ‘pandan’ leafs over there..cook it well and serve it with bread or cooked glutanious rice…but this recipe cannot last long.

    Another way, we will make it into ‘dodol’ of the popular Malaysian delicacy..taken during tea time or even prepared for celebrations.But, you can find it anytime at the tourist spot, anywhere in Malaysia. This is how it is prepared.

    Firstly, in a big wok, really big one..we put in the coconut milk, sugar, brown sugar and rice flour. cook under slow fire until it becomes real thick. You will need to stir it, without stopping to make sure the texture will be fine and nice. After it has thicken, then only put in the DURIAN. The amount would depends on your choice. Stir for a while till it really thicken and had becomes oily ( oil from the coconut milk, of course). That proved it well cooked. That’s it..ready to be serve or you can keep it real long, more than a month outside in the normal room temperature but few months if its kept in an airtight container. It tastes really marvelous.. :)

    There are many other way to have DURIAN but I guess that 2 ways is enough..I’m afraid my writing will becomes a short story…

    I’m sorry to take much of your column..but just wanna share…

    Have a nice fruity day… :D

  7. October 3, 2012 6:43 am

    I love frozen bananas.. just eat them straight from the freezer or if you want to get fancy you can whip them up with a hand blender and even add flavouring such as a few frozen berries to make a pink berry ice cream, without any fat or added sugar!

  8. October 3, 2012 7:25 am

    What a lovely book and I might even be persuaded to like fava beans. I love aubergines or eggplant depending on what you call it. I’ve just discovered that cooking with what’s called Japanese eggplant in North America has meant that I can expand my repertoire of recipes for this plant..since it doesn’t absorb oil to the same degree as European variant.

  9. October 3, 2012 8:24 am

    Looks and sounds like a great book, I just put it on my wishlist.

  10. October 3, 2012 9:06 am

    This book looks awesome! I think I’ll have to look for it next time I’m at the store! Your photos are beautiful by the way!

  11. Wendy Reading permalink
    October 3, 2012 10:56 am

    I adore pumpkin I reduce balsamic vinegar with abit of brown sugar till you get a lovely glaze. I pour this over the roasted pumpkin with some fresh chopped coriander BLISS!

  12. Simone permalink
    October 3, 2012 1:07 pm

    What a cool book! I’d love it for school to show my students. Its always good to have inspiration so they dont cook/bake the same dish when they get a free choice.

    I like to use in season fruit to make upside down muffins to freeze. Especially when you have a lot of it ripe fruit all at once.Berries are always good but I also like to use nectarines, peaches, feijoas or gold kiwifruit.

    Right now we are lucky that our new rental has an orange tree in the backyard. The oranges are plentiful and appeal to the whole family because they are seedless! When we cant eat them fast enough I’ve been juicing them or making an orange syrup loaf.

    And yes I am in New Zealand! (Rotorua)

  13. Floor permalink
    October 3, 2012 6:02 pm

    That book looks gorgeous!
    My favorite veggie at the moment must be asparagus! I know spring is here when they’re slowly becoming available again after a long winter’s wait. I come from Holland and am used to white asparagus, haven’t found those in New Zealand yet but shouldn’t be too hard too grow myself! A really yummy way to have the green ones is grilled with soy sauce some brown sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, fried garlic and some chives and/or coriander… Enjoy! ;-)
    Floor, Nelson

  14. October 3, 2012 7:49 pm

    I’m loving brocolli at the moment. Having recently discovered quinoa, I’m going to have to say that a brocolli & chicken quinoa cassarole sounds pretty good right now!

  15. October 3, 2012 8:42 pm

    I love the look and sound of this book! Happy to be in Australia so I can pick it up soon!
    I’ve been getting after asparagus a lot lately. I love this time of year when it’s everywhere for so cheap! I’ve been eating it either pan sauteed with garlic and chili oil or roasted with a poached egg, some Parmesan and lots of cracked pepper.

  16. October 3, 2012 10:35 pm

    This looks like a fantastic book! I’m really into golden kiwis at the moment – I’d never heard of them before moving to NZ (where I am currently) and I just can’t get enough of them! I love them just on their own, though I’ve seen several recipes for kiwi jam that I keep meaning to try out…but I keep eating all the kiwis that I buy.

  17. October 3, 2012 11:00 pm

    This book sounds intriguing and looks stunning. Will add this to my wish list for sure. I’m loving asparagus right now which has started to sprout in my garden. Found a recipe for Asparagus soup in the Dominion Post today by Alison Holst and am going to try next as there is only so much asparagus heaped in butter you can eat.

  18. Sharon Siacci permalink
    October 6, 2012 1:22 pm

    Paw Paw – yummo! Peeled, de-seeded and diced. Into a bowl, topped with Greek yoghurt with honey, broken up Dutch ginger biscuit and then slivers of mint leaves. I can eat this any time of day, I love it.

  19. October 7, 2012 12:14 am

    Zoe: I miss feijoas over here! Fortunately limes are a lot cheaper, which helps with the transition somewhat :P

    Leaf: Mm, bok choy with a little oyster sauce is particularly yum :)

    Christina: Wow, I’ve never tried roasting a whole head before, but that sounds amazing!

    My Story: I have yet to try durian, but all my Asian friends love it! If it’s paired with coconut I could probably fall in love with it pretty easily. Thanks for sharing – I love long comments so type away!

    Pere: Yes! I love them frozen, they’re like little bits of healthy iced candy. Have yet to try banana ice cream though, I’m always worried I’ll break my immersion blender and I try not to use the food processor too much these days

    Alicia: I tend to find the Asian varieties are more tender too. If you’ve never tried them with char siu sauce and a little soy, you’re missing out ;)

    San & Em: Thanks!

    Wendy: Sounds fantastic! Great way to enhance pumpkin’s sweetness in an unexpected way

    Simone: Orange syrup cake is fabulous! As is the cake with whole blended oranges in it!

    Floor & Leah: Yes I’m loving how cheap it is at the moment, and picked straight from the ground asparagus is so glorious!

    Sarah: Yay, I’m glad someone else appreciates broccoli too! I find it very addictive simply stir fried with a bit of garlic!

    Mel: Ooo, they’d work quite well in a jam I’d imagine, maybe with a little ginger or lemon…or even both perhaps…

    Domestic: Ooo, I don’t know if I could get enough asparagus with butter ;) Especially with a little truffle salt!

    Sharon: Sounds like a pretty stellar combination to add to any fruit actually, thanks for sharing that! Can imagine it with peaches too, yum.

  20. October 9, 2012 2:34 pm

    Although I see that spring veg are creeping their way into the market, swedes have definitely been a mainstay in our kitchen this winter. Beautiful when combined with barley and leeks to make a risotto and topped with generous mounds of parmesan.

  21. October 9, 2012 8:50 pm

    Rather than get jealous of my partner’s schnitzel. I have my own vege version. Slice eggplants and flour–>egg–>breadcrumbs–> fry. Couldn’t be simpler! And to be honest, it doesn’t even really matter if the flour,egg and breadcrumbs all end up in one bowl together, still tastes delicious!
    I’m from New Zealand too by the way.

  22. October 10, 2012 7:58 pm

    Hi Zo Zhou and fellow blog readers,
    Ripe – such a great title for a book. I enjoyed your description of the book to ‘nod like a puppy'(funny), its wonderful when books can create the fire of passion, understanding and motivation.
    ‘Ripe’ reminds me of the introduction to a wonderful book by Denis Cotter, he writes about – when we only shop at the supermarket we rarely eat ripe food and definitely not ripened on the tree. The peach, as so beautifully photographed on ‘Ripe’, instead of biting into its lusciously juicy flesh we bit into a hard tasteless thing. ‘The more poor imitations we eat, the less pleasure we take. For many of us, the pleasure associated with these wonderful foods has been gradually replaced in our minds by a dull, nagging ordinariness bordering on disappointment, and ultimately we forget they were ever wonderful. The exotic beauty of a peach has been replaced with an ever-present imitation that leaves us lukewarm, and, in the gradual process of that replacement, our affection for the peach has been distorted.’
    Well said Denis.

    Anyway….onto my favourite vegetable. Fennel. Yum. Interesting fact – there is no difference in taste between the bulb, leaves or the seed. All taste of sweet aniseed varying in strength. My favourite way to eat it is raw in a salad.
    RIPE peach and fennel salad with feta and mint.
    The crispy fennel with the salty feta, the sweet peach and the minty mint. Yumo. Mix it all together with some lemon juice and zest and some good quality olive oil.

    I live in New Zealand too : )

  23. October 12, 2012 5:47 am

    I wish i were in nz. That said, the book really does look absolutely lovely, and I really believe everyone can do wih eating more fruits and vegetables. I love them, I don’t know why people have to force themselves to “eat healthy” when it’s actually really easy, just by eating off the land, eating what’s in season! Thanks for sharing this book, and its ethos, with so many others; I’ll be sure to check that out on amazon myself xx

  24. October 12, 2012 9:40 am

    I just happened upon your beautiful blog. Can’t wait to read more. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award:
    Have a great day, Betsy

  25. November 11, 2012 9:12 pm

    This book sounds amazing and I’ve already added it to my Amazon Wishlist. Can’t wait to check it out.

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