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Every Foodie Needs a Vegetable Garden

Yup. If you’re a foodie, whenever possible you must grow your own. I understand that those in cities usually need to be content with farmer’s markets and CSA’s, but if you have a sunny porch, deck, or yard, start planning next year’s vegetable garden now. Why? There are four reasons that food lovers should grow their own and the first three are taste, taste, and taste. There is no comparison in flavor between a fruit or vegetable freshly harvested and one that’s spent a day or more out of the garden. A broccoli floret that’s been snapped off of the plant a half hour before dinner is entirely different in flavor than the head of broccoli you buy in the store.

We’re still harvesting Zephyr and Costata Romanesco summer squash despite the fact that both plants have had powdery mildew for over two months. They just keep producing new, clean foliage and I’m able to harvest new squash every other day. These are both so flavorful when freshly picked that just a quick sauté in some olive oil and finishing with freshly ground pepper is all they need.

Freshly harvested eggplant is also amazing. Normally you think of eggplant as taking on the flavor of whatever sauce is used, but an eggplant that is picked right before roasting has an actual taste all its own. I put mine in a 375 degree oven on parchment paper – no oil – and roast it until the edges start to turn brown. Delicious.

Fall is the perfect time to harvest Tuscan kale, Pak Choi, and Chard. These will all go through light frosts and can be used in any style of cooking. I’ve added Pak Choi leaves to basil when making pesto, used the kale in salads and all types of soup, and substituted chard for spinach in many dishes. If you’re harvesting these veggies shortly before cooking they don’t need as much seasoning or complicated recipes…simply cooked their flavor takes center stage.

One of the most life-affirming things we can do is to plant a vegetable garden. There is nothing so satisfying than being able to walk into your own yard and ask, ‘What’s for dinner?’ And whether the garden answers “Squash!” or “Chard,” you’re in for the most tasty food you can cook.

Last night's harvest included summer squash, kale and chard. The garlic was harvested in July and the winter squash in September.

I sliced the kale and chard into ribbons and sautéed it with a clove of minced garlic. Just before serving I added a tablespoon of Mad Dog Original Barbeque sauce on a whim. It made a good combination with the roast chicken, and contrasted with the mild, nutty flavor of the squash.

The squash was simply cooked in a small amount of olive oil just before dinner. Now THIS is what "fast food" should be.

The tastiest food on earth? You can grow that! Oh…the fourth reason every foodie needs a vegetable garden? Health. Freshly picked vegetables are better for you, and since the flavor is so good you’ll eat more of the foods that are healthy.

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