garden fresh

Let's Grow Together!

Let's grow together!

This blog post is the third in a multi-part series about building my dream: a local café with lots of heart & big projects for the community!

Today I’d like to talk about my vision for a kitchen garden for the café. One of my most favorite books is “The Secret Garden.” I love how in this book a young girl is transformed by her time working in her own garden space and how she gains confidence through this work. I think it’s important to our community to have a kitchen garden and a space where we can all learn to grow together- not only herbs, vegetables and fruits- but also learning that we all take care of this earth together so we must learn to treat every garden as our own.

I envision a lovely kitchen garden near the café that is tended by some team members and also members of the community. I can imagine that there will be garden tours, plants grown to attract birds and butterflies as well as organic produce grown there. It will be a wonderful outdoor classroom for local people to learn from and participate in.

Some of the herbs that would be lovely to grow in the garden are:

·         Rosemary

·         Thyme

·         Basil

·          Chives

·         Oregano

·         Lemon balm

·         Sage

·         Lavender & more!

I also see that many vegetables, greens, berry plants and dwarf fruit trees can be grown as well to add to seasonal dishes and desserts.

Not only do I see the kitchen garden providing lovely produce for the café’s dishes, I see partnering with local farmers and orchard owners for wonderful products to use as well.

What do you see in this garden we are growing together? I welcome all ideas and I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or email me at: info@thecheerychef.com. Thank you so much!

With lots of care,

Trista

 

 

Baked Brown Rice Pilaf with Fresh Rosemary and Pine Nuts

Baked Brown Rice Pilaf with Fresh Rosemary and Pine Nuts

I really love how necessity breeds creativity when it comes to creating recipes in the kitchen. A few days before I made this rice dish, I had been fairly busy and had not done my weekly grocery shopping. As a result I was looking to create a meal with the items I had left in the pantry and the freezer. I had bought a small package of pine nuts for some kind of experiment- an herb-pesto of sorts, but I decided they would go really well with rice. Then, I looked out in my garden and noticed my rosemary plant growing well and just knew that all of these would make a great combination! 

I think that everything is meant to be just as it happens and it is such a joy when things come together in unexpected ways- just like this delightful rice dish. Have you ever put together different ingredients and come up with something that you just loved? I would love to hear about it in the comments below! 

 

Baked Brown Rice Pilaf with Fresh Rosemary and Pine Nuts

Adapted from the recipe "Basic Baked Brown Rice Pilaf" from Simple Bites.

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon olive oil

 1/2 onion, chopped finely 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cups brown rice

3 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. 

1. Melt the coconut oil & heat up the olive oil together in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the onions and the garlic and saute until they are soft. 

2. Add the fresh rosemary, sea salt and pine nuts. Stir and cook for around 1 minute. 

3. Stir in the rice to toast it along with the other ingredients for around 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir it one time and then put a lid on the Dutch oven and place it in the oven. 

4. Cook the rice in the oven for about 40 minutes. Then, let it settle out of the oven for 10 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork. Serve as a lovely side dish for dinner. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. 

I hope that you enjoy this delicious and healthy side dish! 

A Cooking Garden & Herbed Meatball Recipe

Fresh Herb and Garbanzo Bean Meatballs

This spring I have made a new commitment to my backyard garden. In years past when I was busy with my baking businesses I had not allowed as much time in the garden as I would have liked. However, now I am making it a daily and weekly priority and it has brought so much joy to my life. I love how spring has brought with it so many beautiful gifts from the earth and so many delicious things to eat! 

I am so amazed at the variety of things I am growing in my garden this year and how some extra care and attention has brought forth more wonderful produce that I can bring into the kitchen. In this post I will share with you what I am currently growing as well as a meatball recipe that includes many of the herbs I am growing in my garden this year. This season I am going all out and growing all of the herbs that I have wanted to grow for a long time to add freshness and vitality to my dishes. What are you growing in your garden today? What has you most excited? I would love to know! 

Very soon I will be featured on the wonderful Organic Gardening Podcast & I wanted to make sure you learned about it. Here is the podcast website. I hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as I do and learn lots about growing a sustainable and wonderful garden this year! 

http://organicgardenerpodcast.com/

Here is a run-down on the current state of my garden. I would love to hear what you are growing and what your favorite plants are to cook in the kitchen. Feel free to comment below or send me an email about your garden! :)

Strawberries, Huckleberries, Mint, Blueberries and Tea in the Garden

Things that I currently grow in my garden: 

Herbs: 

Mint, Sage, Tarragon, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Rosemary,Thyme, Pineapple Sage, Sage, Parsely

Berries: 

Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries and Huckleberries

Vegetables: 

Lettuce, Artichokes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Spinach, Peas

Other Edible Plants: 

Roses (I use the petals in desserts), Tea plants to make green tea from, Rhubarb

Now on to a delicious and simple recipe to put to use some of the variety of herbs in the garden: 

Fresh Herb and Garbanzo Bean Meatballs: 

Makes 15-20 meatballs depending on the size you make them. 

I like to serve this with oven roasted potatoes and oven roasted asparagus

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley)

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped canned garbanzo beans

1 pound organic grass fed beef

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

olive oil for frying meatballs

1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a medium bowl. Mix together well with your hands. Form into small meatballs. 

2. Heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, or in an electric skillet set to about 350F. 

3. Add the meatballs and fry them on all sides until golden brown. 

4. Serve with oven roasted potato wedges and oven roasted asparagus or your favorite veggies from the garden. 

Enjoy and happy gardening & cooking!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Zucchini Tomato Basil Pizza on the Grill!

homemade zucchini tomato basil pizza on the grill

Delicious, fresh grilled zucchini tomato and basil pizza! 

Summer is still here and there are still so many goodies from the garden to enjoy including the fast growing zucchini, tomatoes and fresh basil. Grilling the pizza means that you don't have to get your kitchen hot by turning on the oven and the pizza bakes quickly on the grill while you enjoy a few moments outside. 

In my family, Friday night always meant pizza night and it was never takeout or delivery, it was always homemade, from scratch. There were toppings that we all loved and certain ones, like pepperoncini that my Dad especially loved to add a spicy kick to pizza! 

This particular pizza came about a few days ago when I was trying to use up lots of ingredients we had from both my parent's garden and ours. I wanted to make a simple, healthy dinner that also felt special, and this fit the bill! 

This pizza is adapted from a magazine article I clipped a while back and I have adapted it to make 2 medium size (about 12") pizzas. You may make one zucchini tomato pizza with the topping recipe below and top your other pizza with other ingredients as you wish. 

This recipe requires planning ahead as the dough needs to rise for about 18 hours. 

Usually what I do is start the dough before I go to sleep, then get it ready to use about 30 minutes before dinner time. 

Below I share the dough recipe, sauce and topping recipe as well: 

    Freshly risen pizza dough ready to roll! 

 

Freshly risen pizza dough ready to roll! 

 

Pizza Dough: 

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 1/2 cups water

1. In a medium bowl (the night before baking your pizza), place the flour, salt and yeast. Use a wire whisk to combine the ingredients. 

2. Use a wooden spoon to stir while slowly adding the water. Stir until well mixed. 

3. With your hands, mix dough gently to combine it into a rough ball. 

4. Move the dough to a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise at room temperature. Let it rise until dinner time. (It needs a total of about 18 hours of rise time) 

5. After the rising time is passed, divide the dough roughly in half. 

6. Roll out each half into a medium sized dough circle, about 12 inches in diameter. 

Proceed by brushing on sauce, adding the toppings and cheese with the recipes below: 

 

Pizza Sauce: 

One 8oz can of tomato sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. 

Place the tomato sauce, garlic and basil into a small saucepan and heat to a simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture is at a slow simmer, turn down the heat to low. Let the mixture simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

    Freshly broiled veggies! 

 

Freshly broiled veggies! 

 

Zucchini, Tomato and Basil Topping: 

About 1 cup zucchini, sliced into circles, then into quarters

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half

Olive oil

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

5-6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1/4-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat your oven to broil. On a rimmed baking sheet, place the zucchini and tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. 

Broil the veggies for 4-5 minutes, until slightly charred on top, remove from oven. 

Continue to top your pizza as follows, and follow the instructions below to grill your pizza. 

 

Topping the Pizza: 

1. Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on a rimmed metal baking sheet. Place a pizza dough round on the baking sheet. 

2. Spoon on a generous portion of the pizza sauce to taste on your pizza round. Use a pastry brush to make sure you cover the whole surface, leaving about a half inch all of the way around without sauce. 

3. Sprinkle your broiled veggies on top. 

4. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. 

5. Sprinkle the top of the pizza with the torn fresh basil leaves. 

 

Prepping Your Grill & Grilling

I currently use a gas grill for most of my grilling.

1. You want to heat both burners on your gas grill to medium high.

2. Place a large, square pizza stone on the grill grates to heat up. 

3. Heat your grill for about 15 minutes. 

4. Place the pan with your pizza on it on top of the pizza stone on the grill. 

5. The pizza takes 7-10 minutes to cook on the grill. Be sure to check it after 5 minutes. Check underneath to make sure the pizza is cooked on the bottom. 

6. When the pizza is done it will bubble up, become golden brown, the cheese will be melted and the underside will be properly cooked. 

Enjoy your grilled pizza this summer! 

My best to you always!

Trista