"In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruits"

By Sarah Raven (Universe, $40)

What it is: "In Season," a garden-to-table cookbook from Sarah Raven, gardening expert and presenter on the long-running BBC television show "Gardener's World," aims to show readers how to live the garden-to-table life. It's a big, beautiful book, full of lush saturated color and earthy photographs that make you wish the fantasy -- that you could have Raven's life -- were true.

Praise (and quibbles): The downside, of course, is that the fantasy is difficult to sustain. Raven lives with her family on a 90-acre farm in East Sussex, England, where she also teaches gardening, cooking and floristry, and seems to grow just about everything she eats. Which makes some of her recipes seem impractical. We would hesitate to attempt such dishes as stuffed lamb with lavender, for which she suggests that you make a nest of hay for the lamb to rest in during cooking, because we just don't cook with hay. Or the winter flower and toasted seed salad that suggests you "check they're not poisonous before you gather them" -- if only because we don't want to be charged with involuntary manslaughter at our own dinner party.

Still, we love the format of this book (arranged by month, with recipes that reflect the growing season). There are many recipes we're looking forward to trying -- simple and straightforward formulas dedicated to letting fruits and vegetables assert their most essential personalities: the spinach and lentil soup, the roasted sweet potato and feta salad, and the kale and chickpea curry, for instance.

Why we think you'll like it: Raven's vision is inspiring. This book is educational for anyone wanting to get closer to the earth through local produce or for kitchen gardeners who want to make the most of their harvest.

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ernunn@tribune.com

Keywords: FOOD; BOOK; REVIEW