Amy Pennington's Urban Pantry is the winner of the 2011 Heart of Green Award for best new cookbook. We asked her about its incredible success, her forthcoming book about apartment gardening and what veggie she recommends for all novice gardeners.
What has been the response from the publication of Urban Pantry? Any surprising reactions?
The response has been great, and it is all very surprising! I am a little author from Seattle with no real name caché, and to see the book catch on has been awesome. I think it is also pitch-perfect timing for a book like Urban Pantry, as well I happened to tap into a lifestyle that a lot of people are thinking about or curious about. It has been rad. The fact that Gwyneth Paltrow liked it certainly didn't hurt either! She is such a foodie, a natural foodie, and I was really happy to get a copy her way.
Tell us a little about your inspiration for working on the book.
You know, it is not like I had this idea bubbling for a long time and I finally got it out. The "inspiration" came from my life, I guess. I grew up on a little homestead and as an adult I wanted to recreate that lifestyle, but I wasn't willing to move out to the country. I'm a city girl at heart! So I sort of combined a farm-y lifestyle (making all my own food, growing food, preserving) out of my small apartment and voilá... the book was born. I met my publisher and it all came together over a quick conversation a very organic process. (Naturally)
What's your favorite recipe in the book?
Oh gosh, this is ever changing. I love roast chicken. It is my absolute default meal and my comfort food. But outside of that, my favorite at the moment is the Cumin Black Bean Pot with Cabbage. I can make everything in this dish from what's in my pantry, and I don't have to run to the store, which I love. Cabbage is also one of the only greens locally available in Seattle and beans are a great vegetarian option. (I've added more and more veggie meals to my weekly lineup.) I have tomatillo salsa canned in the pantry from last summer, too, and that is fresh and bright during late winter/early spring when there are not many local vegetables available.
Tell us a little about your new book Apartment Gardening. When can our readers get a copy?
Apartment Gardening comes out April 11th and should be available in small bookstores all over. Of course, Amazon.comhas copies, too. It is a book for people that live in apartments or condos or anyone wanting to grow a patio garden. It addresses the limiting factors that often come with small-scale living. Many apartments don't have balconies or patios and if they do, sometimes the sun is not exactly right. So, Apartment Gardening also offers projects to do in your home if you don't actually have a balcony or patio, but you want to feel like you're growing a few things it gives realistic projects to add a little bit of homegrown goodness to your life.
Whats a good starter plant for someone who doesnt have a green thumb?
LETTUCE! Most everyone loves salad, it grows quickly and you can bring it from seed to bowl in less than 2 months. Anyone can do that!
See all the 2011 Heart of Green Award winners.
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