It’s Sunday night, and as I reflect upon a weekend of great meals, I realize that what made them extra special was the food we harvested from our little garden. On Saturday I dug out some baby red and ruby crescent potatoes (always my favorite harvest of the year) and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yum! They made our simple barbeque chicken dinner a treat. This morning for breakfast we spread some homemade raspberry jam on some fresh whole grain bread — we made enough jam a couple of weeks ago to bring sweetness and sunshine into our kitchen until our berry patch peaks again next summer. For tonight’s dinner, I brought in some sunburst squash and sautéed them with garlic and an heirloom tomato, and finished it with a big handful of fresh-picked chopped Italian parsley. The chives for our baked potatoes were snipped fresh from our garden, too.
Growing up in New York City, I was completely disconnected from where my food came from. When I was hungry, I didn’t think “What should I harvest? What should I cook?” but “Should I get takeout from the deli, order Chinese, or grab a slice of Ray’s pizza?” Today I feel so much more grounded, with my feet on the Earth and my hands in the soil. I’m so glad my kids have grown up gardening, picking out what they wanted to grow from a seed catalog, and then eating it with enthusiasm because they’d planted it, cared for it, cleared the weeds, and harvested it themselves.
Now that my daughter’s in college, the garden draws her home for more frequent visits; she craves home’s fresh food and the fulfillment of our harvests. My 17-year-old football-player son is no longer the little toddler who needs supervision while he digs with his little shovel; these days he’s the one I rely on to clear the garden of the most stubborn overgrown weeds, carry the 40-pound bags of organic fertilizer, and fork it into the soil to prepare the beds. He makes sure we always plant pickling cucumbers and dill, and when they are ready, he makes pickles for our family — and for my parents, who love them more than any other food.
The joys of our home garden are many and unique, which is why I encourage everyone to give gardening a try, even if your “garden” is just a pot on a window ledge with some perennial herbs. Just a few snips of something you grew yourself adds a special flavor to your food and inspires more home cooking.