New Cookbook Celebrates Rosie Daykin’s Garden

The Side Gardener is named for the way Daykin gardens “on the sidelines” of his other ventures.

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Coco, Olive, and Regina George (yes, the latter has a Mean Girls streak) look at me when I enter their space. No surprise: I’d protect my chicken coop if it were a hen pecking around Rosie Daykin’s ridiculously posh backyard on Vancouver’s west side.

Alongside the giant spruce trees, flower beds, basalt walls, and winding bluestone paths dotted by a massive greenhouse, are the three “girls,” protagonists of Daykin’s new cookbook. That’s because the multi-hyphenate Daykin, known for her honed talents in interior design and nearby Butter Baked Goods, which she sold three years ago, can now add ‘gardening’ to her repertoire.

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Her fourth cookbook, The Side Gardener, is named not only for the once-languishing, now neat planters that flank her home, but also for the way Daykin grows gardens “on the sidelines” of her other ventures. The pages meander beautifully through helpful tips on how to grow your own, whether a two-acre plot or an herb garden, and the resulting recipes for planting it, edible flowers and, of course, eggs. (Daykin’s Cuckoo Maran, Olive Egger and Ameraucana return your luxury and loving attention by laying it in abundance).

The Side Gardener includes gardening tips as well as recipes using plants, edible flowers, and Daykin eggs.  It is her fourth cookbook.
The Side Gardener includes gardening tips as well as recipes using plants, edible flowers, and Daykin eggs. It is her fourth cookbook. Photo by Andrew Montgomery

Based on the food she loves to eat, The Side Gardener was “a fun exercise” in creating “vegetarian” recipes that come from the garden. She rattles off how zucchini inspired a chocolate cake, how her red peppers transformed a crab soup, and how her beets perfected a ravioli.

“After all this time, I have an instinctive idea of ​​what will work pretty quickly: find the base and then modify it,” he says over homemade peanut butter cookies and Yorkshire tea. (His best vegetable is radish. “You sprinkle them,” she adds, “and then with a sneeze, they’re done. Very gratifying.”)

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Beyond produce, simply dipping your hands in the soil also nourishes it. “Walking in nature is wonderful,” she continues, “but, not to get too carried away, there is something else when you work in it: digging, planting… Being connected to the earth in that way is a way of getting lost. It brings me peace of mind.”

It’s all part of the courageous thread that runs through her modus operandi in life: learning herself. “Put your feet first,” she exclaims. “Maybe it’s my own stupidity or ignorance, but I’m not afraid of failure.”

The Side Gardener, to be published by Random House's Appetite, is out April 9.  Excerpted from The Side Gardener by Rosie Daykin.  Copyright © 2024 Rosie Daykin.  Photographs by Andrew Montgomery.  Published by Appetite, an imprint of Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.  Reproduced by agreement with the publisher.  All rights reserved.
Rhubarb panna cotta recipe from The Side Gardener, to be published by Appetite by Random House. Photo by Andrew Montgomery

In fact, he had some false starts in gardening: an “epiphany” that he had mistakenly had a rooster in his first batch of chickens (an absolute no-no in the city with its dawn chorus) and not having adequate watering to first hour in the morning. years that led to dismal performance.

But it is clearly driven by curiosity and creativity. “There are things that can hold people back: a lot of shame and questions about what people would say, but they have things to say whether you’re doing it right or wrong, so I can’t control that,” Daykin says. “My true joy comes when I am building something. “I’d rather do something that I find exciting or fulfilling, like gardening, and figure out how to do it.”

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From the frothy roses and dahlias of the English country garden to chocolate cosmos and violas, the new garden also allows you to delight in growing all the flowers you love. (The edibles arrive on their floral shortbread coins, a nod to Los Angeles culinary artist Loria Stern.)

Image of Panzanella salad from Rosie Daykin's new book, The Side Gardener, to be published by Appetite by Random House.
Image of Panzanella salad from Rosie Daykin’s new book, The Side Gardener, to be published by Appetite by Random House. Photo by Andrew Montgomery

“I just received another order from Chiltern Seeds, a slippery slope,” he adds, referring to an English supplier. It is one of the many fragments that he “extracts” from his extensive travels in Europe and makes “accessible” in Vancouver. Take the rustic watering can he packed into a suitcase to bring back from the UK, or the giant wicker baskets and stone vases (the latter from his friend Thomas Hobbs) that wouldn’t look out of place in an English country sink either. .

The West Coast may be home, but these trips are essential. “When my ‘lights’ start flashing, it means I have to leave,” she laughs. “Traveling is about refueling myself visually. Then I come back and I’m very revitalized.”
An energy that clearly bubbles throughout the side garden.

The Side Gardener, published by Appetite by Random House, is out April 9.

Photographs by Andrew Montgomery taken from The Side Gardener by Rosie Daykin. Copyright © 2024 Rosie Daykin. Published by Appetite, an imprint of Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by agreement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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