A few weeks ago, I came across a reference in a magazine to what looked like an intriguing book about edible flowers. I explored it further on the website, but then got distracted and didn’t take it any further.
Then last week, Linda Brennan, the author, just happened to pop into my nursery. I was absolutely thrilled to meet her, and to chat to her about her organic farm, and how she came to create this gorgeous book.
Linda is described as ‘a horticulturist, eco botanist, environmental educator and passionate green-thumb goddess’. Her book, A Delicious Bunch, is the culmination of a lifetime of growing and cooking with delicious organic ingredients, both home-grown and foraged.
With easy organic growing guidelines to suit all climates and gardening abilities, this book is part gardening guide, part cookbook. It includes information on thirty edible flowers. (And Linda tells me that there is another book, covering a whole new collection of blooms, in the pipeline.) Complete with growing notes and lavish photography, A Delicious Bunch features a range of flowers to grace your garden and menu. While some, like roses and calendula, are well-known as being edible, there are some surprises, too, like snapdragons and crucifix orchids.
For each flower featured, there is information about how to grow it, as well as how to harvest it and prepare it for use. Then there is a beautiful recipe using that flower. The recipes range from delicious drinks to stunning cakes, delectable snacks and spectacular main dishes, and each one is captured in a mouth-watering photograph.
I thought I was pretty clever in the edible flower department, sometimes tossing rose or marigold petals into a salad, wrapping nasturtiums into a rice paper roll, or freezing violas into ice cubes to decorate chilled drinks. But this book takes creating food with flowers to a whole new level. How about Calendula cheese balls with native dukka, Chamomile and salted caramel bars, Cosmos and strawberry frozen layer cake, or Crucifix Orchid sponge? Not to mention Society Garlic and pumpkin seed biscuits, or Lemon Myrtle panna cotta with crystallised Native Violets?
Since finally getting my hands on a copy of this gorgeous book, I have spent far too much time drooling over its contents, and re-designing my garden in my head to accommodate more edible flowers. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Linda’s approach – nurture the soil, grow fine produce, and celebrate that by preparing simple, deliciously elegant dishes to share with friends and loved ones.
You will find copies of this book in some garden centres and bookstores, or you can order it online at www.ecobotanica.com.au. It’s a great gift for anyone who enjoys growing food or flowers.