Eating Fresh from the Garden (for Dummies)

Tending to a garden can be hard work. I suppose I’m behind the curve on that sentiment. There are people who make their living and support their family through gardening and are well aware of its challenges. But for someone who has been a city dweller her entire adult life—with nary a surviving herb plant—discovering the nuances (and the delicious reward) of having a backyard garden was eye-opening.

This guy and I decided to housesit for a couple in New Zealand back in March of 2015. They left us not only with a gorgeous and full-of-energy kelpie puppy but also a completely stocked greenhouse and other random veggies planted throughout the yard.

On top of the difficulties of learning how to garden for the first time, we had to learn how to garden someone else’s plants. We had to tend to the garden like it was our own, but better. Because it was someone else’s.

As it was March at the time, we were lucky enough to reap the rewards of late summer bounty in the Southern Hemisphere. For us, that meant, more tomatoes (mostly cherry) than we could possibly eat and fresh peaches falling from the tree every day. Potatoes popping up out of the ground (sometimes discovered by the dog first). Giant zucchinis. Herbs on herbs, including fresh mint, basil and a few different types of parsley.

So much Pinteresting happened during that month, and probably the best thing that came out of the experience was the badge of honor: I could eat fresh from my own backyard garden. Though there was the occasional fail (who knew how hard it would be to make sauce out of 100 cherry tomatoes?), I did make some gems.

Here they are:

Peach cobbler from Hilah Cooking

By far my favorite creation from our housesit (I made it multiple times), this peach cobbler warmed us on more than a couple chilly evenings. Substitute the canned peaches in this recipe for fresh peaches, and you have a wonderful and garden-fresh dessert that everyone will love. I used New Zealand’s rich black peaches, which gave the cobbler a deliciously dark purple color, but you can sub in any stone fruit to make this one just as yummy.

Zucchini bread from Mel’s Kitchen Café

We grew some seriously massive zucchinis while we were in New Zealand, and I’ve seen some homegrown ones from my dad’s garden that were too huge to eat in just one stir-fry. What did I choose to do with them day after day? Make zucchini bread, of course. And then eat it. Nope, never got sick of it. This recipe is awesome, and I added fresh walnuts to give it some extra texture since we found a tree in a park that was dropping walnuts like whoa. You’re allowed to do that, right?

Peach and balsamic pizza from LOVE & OLIVE OIL

This was another creation inspired by the garden, and it was a tribute to our at-home tradition of making pizza every Wednesday with our close friends. Again with the black peaches, this pizza had a dark and sumptuous look that made you want to dive in before it was out of the oven. But any old peach or stone fruit will do. Go as fresh as possible for the best results. Oh, and use Lindsay and Taylor’s homemade dough recipe instead of store bought. Then, thoroughly enjoy your creation as I did: with some overpriced New Zealand wine and an episode (or three) of Call the Midwife.

Potato and rosemary flatbread from 12 Tomatoes

This one felt like a gourmet indulgence. I can’t seem to get enough of goat cheese, like ever, and the thinly sliced potatoes fresh from the garden (had to wrestle a few from Lucy) make it hearty. Bonus points for using fresh rosemary right out of the ground or from your neighbor’s overgrown rosemary bush that needs, ahem, trimming.

Peach jam from Buttered Side Up

Ok, yes, there were a ton of peaches…and here’s another recipe with them in it. Because after I was done working for the day and playing with Lucy, I would make stuff with peaches. I had no choice. There were sooo manyyyy. But not complaining—the jam was made a few times and just chilled in the fridge until I needed more, and the crepes were made for breakfast. Working from home is the best!


What are your favorite garden-fresh recipes?

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