A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables

A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables - Gardening Book

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A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables
Growing and Cooking Old-Time Varieties

by Roger Yepsen

160 Pages
9 7/8 x 9 7/8

Tiny dry beans with the grand name of Cherokee Trail of Tears. Melons fancifully called Moon and Stars. Humble parsnips, raised underground in Wisconsin, that take on the tropical scent of coconut.

They're all heirloom vegetables--old-time varieties that nature alone has produced, untouched by genetic scientists and modern technology. And in A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables, hundreds of them are showcased brilliantly. Author Roger Yepsen observed these much-loved living antiques as they grew in his garden, and has painted a picture, in words and watercolors, of each of them in all their glorious color and form. More than 50 full-color illustrations make it abundantly clear that these varieties have survived on the strength of their distinctive flavor, scent, texture, and looks--from strange, mysterious, exotic, and even ugly to startingly beautiful. There's a Swiss chard that sprouts forth in a crayon box of colors, a lustrous purple kohlrabi, cherry tomatoes shaped like tiny golden pears, string beans streaked with magenta, and many other old gems too glorious to hide behind a row of corn! Most are easy to grow, whether in beds or just by sticking seeds in a big flower pot. They can even be tucked in flower beds to take advantage of their good looks.

Descriptions of each variety offer gardening, shopping, and cooking tips, and seed-saving instructions. Sixty simple, healthful recipes--many of them heirlooms themselves--allow the vegetables' individual personalities to shine.

Heirloom gardening is a delight to the eye as well as a wonderful way to bring a bit of our grandparents' living legacy to our table today.



While you're preparing to plant beans, consider buying seed for two easily grown herbs that have long been associated with them, summer savory and epazote. Summer savory can be used fresh or dried in bean dishes, and its presence in the garden has been credited with encouraging the growth of nearby beans. In acknowledgement of the association of these two plants, German markets offer green beans tied in bundles with a few sprigs of Bohnenkraut, or bean-leaf, as summer savory is known. Epazote is a curiously scented herb used in Mexican bean cuisine, for both flavor and its reputed powers as a digestive. In India, asafetida and ginger are used to spice bean dishes for the same seasons.


Small, colorfully speckled tepary beans look like tiny bird egs. Their distinctive, nutty flavor is best shown off in simple dishes in which they can shine.

2 cups tepary beans 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 cherry tomatoes, cut into thin wedges

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, and simmer until tender but not mushy.

Drain the cooked beans and put them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, stirring well to distribute them. Let stand for at least 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate for longer periods, but allow the salad to come back to room temperature.

Excerpted from A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables. Copyright c 1998 by Roger Yepsen. Reprinted by permission of Artisan.

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