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OP: From Garden to Kitchen

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by C. H. Middleton and Ambrose Heath

From Garden to Kitchen, published in 1937, was prescient in appearing just ahead of the scarcity, self-reliance, and economy imposed on WWII Britain. Indeed, the co-authors, while well-known prior, ultimately became best remembered for their effort to encourage a nation of patriotic cooks and gardeners. This book helped pave the way.

Cecil Henry Middleton (1886–1945), responsible for the first hundred pages or so on growing, covers everything from trenching and soil composition to pests and cultivation. Mr. Middleton, as he was popularly known, gained his expertise in the family horticulture trade and was already a household name before the war began. He contributed a gardening column to the Daily Express, and his BBC gardening show was one of the network’s earliest pieces of television programming. 

The government called upon his celebrity to launch the Dig for Victory campaign, which combated shortages by encouraging people to grow their own food.

Leading the section on cooking is Ambrose Heath (1891–1969), a prolific writer on food and wine, particularly in the 1930s and '40s, during which period he published nearly 30 books. Many focused on vegetable cookery, as the war necessitated a nearly vegetarian diet for the average citizen.

Heath’s Part II mirrors Middleton's ABC of Vegetables in Part I, describing common uses and preparations for each. The prose recipes are a great source of inspiration for the eager cook looking to make the most of homegrown produce. Both authors write with empathy, humor, and such affability as to make this an easy and delightful read, even to those of us not facing wartime privation. 

Our copy is an apparent first printing, lacking the scarce dust jacket. The appropriately green clothbound case is fraying at the head and foot of the spine and bears a small chip on an edge, exposing the boards underneath. Though showing signs of use, as well it should—a small closed tear from thumbing here and a stain from high acid paper used as a bookmark there—the sturdy stock remains clean and crisp, ready for another 85 years of appreciation. Truly delightful.

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