The largest edible fruit native to the United States tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango. It grows wild in twenty-six states, gracing Eastern forests each fall with sweet-smelling, tropical-flavored abundance. Historically, it fed and sustained Native Americans and European explorers, presidents, and enslaved African Americans, inspiring folk songs, poetry, and scores of place names from Georgia to Illinois. Its trees are an organic grower’s dream, requiring no pesticides or herbicides to thrive, and containing compounds that are among the most potent anticancer agents yet discovered.
So why have so few people heard of the pawpaw, much less tasted one?
In Pawpaw—a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award nominee in the Writing & Literature category—author Andrew Moore explores the past, present, and future of this unique fruit, traveling from the Ozarks to Monticello; canoeing the lower Mississippi in search of wild fruit; drinking pawpaw beer in Durham, North Carolina; tracking down lost cultivars in Appalachian hollers; and helping out during harvest season in a Maryland orchard. Along the way, he gathers pawpaw lore and knowledge not only from the plant breeders and horticulturists working to bring pawpaws into the mainstream (including Neal Peterson, known in pawpaw circles as the fruit’s own “Johnny Pawpawseed”), but also regular folks who remember eating them in the woods as kids, but haven’t had one in over fifty years.
As much as Pawpaw is a compendium of pawpaw knowledge, it also plumbs deeper questions about American foodways—how economic, biologic, and cultural forces combine, leading us to eat what we eat, and sometimes to ignore the incredible, delicious food growing all around us. If you haven’t yet eaten a pawpaw, this book won’t let you rest until you do.
This book is available for purchase as a pre-order. The Whole Okra will be published in June 2019 by Chelsea Green Publishing. By pre-ordering, you will receive one of the first prints of the book as signed by Chris Smith.
Chris Smith’s first encounter with okra was of the worst kind: slimy fried okra at a greasy-spoon diner. Despite that dismal introduction, Smith developed a fascination with okra, and as he researched the plant and began to experiment with it in his own kitchen, he discovered an amazing range of delicious ways to cook and eat it, along with ingenious and surprising ways to process the plant from tip-to-tail: pods, leaves, flowers, seeds, and stalks. Smith talked okra with chefs, food historians, university researchers, farmers, homesteaders, and gardeners.
The summation of his experimentation and research comes together in The Whole Okra, a lighthearted but information-rich collection of okra history, lore, recipes, craft projects, growing advice, and more.
The Whole Okra includes classic recipes such as fried okra pods as well as unexpected delights including okra seed pancakes and okra flower vodka. Some of the South’s best-known chefs shared okra recipes with Smith: Okra Soup by culinary historian Michael Twitty, Limpin’ Susan by chef BJ Dennis, Bhindi Masala by chef Meherwan Irani, and Okra Fries by chef Vivian Howard.
Okra has practical uses beyond the edible, and Smith also researched the history of okra as a fiber crop for making paper and the uses of okra mucilage (slime) as a preservative, a hydrating face mask, and a primary ingredient in herbalist Katrina Blair’s recipe for Okra Marshmallow Delight.
The Whole Okra is foremost a foodie’s book, but Smith also provides practical tips and techniques for home and market gardeners. He gives directions for saving seed for replanting, for a breeding project, or for a stockpile of seed for making okra oil, okra flour, okra tempeh, and more.
Smith has grown over 75 kinds of okra, and he reveals the nuanced (and not so nuanced) differences in flavor and texture, the best-tasting varieties, and his personal favorites. Smith’s wry humor and seed-to-stem enthusiasm for his subject infuse every chapter with just the right mix of fabulous recipes and culinary tips,unique projects, and fun facts about this vagabond vegetable with enormous potential.
100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
by: The Xerces Society
The international bee crisis is threatening our global food supply, but this user-friendly field guide shows what you can do to help protect our pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offers browsable profiles of 100 common flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that support bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The recommendations are simple: pick the right plants for pollinators, protect them from pesticides, and provide abundant blooms throughout the growing season by mixing perennials with herbs and annuals! 100 Plants to Feed the Bees will empower homeowners, landscapers, apartment dwellers — anyone with a scrap of yard or a window box — to protect our pollinators.~section~
Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens: A Handbook for Gardeners, Homeowners, and Professionals
by: Gil Nelson
An essential guide to native plants of the Southeast
Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens highlights and illustrates several hundred readily available and easy-to-grow native species for gardeners and landscapers living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
These native plants include shrubs, small and large trees, and a collection of perennials, all of which have proven to be extremely successful landscape plants in the southeastern United States. The average homeowner will be able to find many of these species in local retail nurseries whether or not these nurseries specialize in native plants.
Gil Nelson has created an indispensable, authoritative publication that describes and recommends high-performing native plants, tells readers how to avoid the use of invasive species in their gardens, and highlights the design of several specialty and wildlife gardens. With the help of regional experts, the included species have been selected based on field visits to retail and wholesale nurseries, private and public gardens and arboreta, personal knowledge and experience, and discussions with landscape and gardening enthusiasts, professionals, and experts throughout the region. The inclusion of more than 600 color photos makes this an easy-to-use, valuable addition to any gardener's library.
"This book is filled to the brim with important information on native plants and is a must for any serious gardener in the southeastern region of the country."--Ginny Stibolt, author of Sustainable Gardening for Florida
"Here is an authoritative, fact-filled guide for growing southeastern native plants from the author who wrote the field guides for identifying our native plants. His experience and knowledge will help us all become better native plant gardeners."--Steven P. Christman, editor, Floridata.com~section~