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Garden, Cook, Laugh, Share. Repeat.

June 6, 2011

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When I started my Garden-Fresh blogging journey, I knew one thing: It was going to be one of the greatest experiences I could ask for.

For many who dabble in cooking, gardening, writing, or photography, this was a dream job . . . not only for me, but for my family, who enjoyed being the taste testers!

During these past 3 months, I used my writing and cooking to start to heal after the loss of my grandpa and to reconnect with my very busy family. I am not a world-renowned chef or a master green thumb, but I was excited and eager to try just about anything in The Garden-Fresh Cookbook. As my reward, I gained cooking and gardening experience that I will hold on to and continue to practice for the rest of my life.

Cooking, and using what we can grow in our backyard, is a timeless and useful hobby that anyone can do. No matter whether you live in the heart of the city, a suburb, or out in the country, gardening and cooking can become an everyday habit that is not only healthy but also a great way to bring family and friends together.

When my family visited Minnesota for my grandpa’s memorial service, the kitchen was at the heart of every moment, every day. Whether it was for snacking on chips and salsa or for making apple wood salmon with garlic-roasted potatoes, the kitchen was where we could make something together. I was about halfway into my blogging adventure, and they all wanted to know what the favorite thing I had made so far was. I fumbled with the answer like I probably will now, because I really can’t pick just one.

My first dish, Skillet Sea Scallops, was such a fresh and delicious way to jump into the Garden-Fresh cooking world. With this column, I was also able to explore the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle and make friends with the fishermen as they threw fish left and right. The Spring Risotto was literally mouth-watering good—there’s no other way to describe it! The Mint Yogurt Dressing——my, oh, my!—had just the right amount of garlic and zest to add to a spring arugula salad. And if I could eat the French Strawberry Pie every night for dessert, I would; it was the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and savory. See? I told you I’d ramble, and I could easily say a little something about every dish, but I’ll let you try them for yourself!

Another thing I learned with The Garden-Fresh Cookbook is that it’s not just cooking, or cooking with your family or friends—it’s sharing what you make with whoever will listen. We share our successes, mistakes, our memories with the food, and in turn the recipe on the page becomes so much more than a list of ingredients. Instead, it becomes that one time I burned the beans and my grandma came to the rescue, or the dinner where my younger sister and I, ages 5 and 2, danced on the kitchen table in our underwear while my dad cooked. This is how we develop the “special secret French Bread recipe” or how we create new names like “Glorious Mess” for a chili concoction my grandparents made. When we share with our friends, our family, our children, the Internet, and the world, we let people in on something special that they can turn into their own.

Thank you to all my readers for such a wonderful experience—it wouldn’t have been the same without you!

Here are a few other favorites!

Granola With Sunflower Seeds

Tomato Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Butternut Squash Soup

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Jane received her Bachelor's in Fine Arts at Western Washington University where she studied Creative Writing. She now lives in the greater Seattle area, where she writes and drinks copious amounts of coffee. When she isn't writing, cooking, gardening, or taking photos, you can find her at local shows and concerts, or running to prepare for yet another half marathon.

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