I hated eating as a kid.  Ask anyone from my childhood and they probably hated trying to feed me even more than I hated eating it.  I hated textures.  I hated temperatures.  I hated smells.  I even hated words to describe food – like meatLOAF (still working on that one).  Simply put, I had so many other things I’d rather be doing than sitting still and eating.

Then, it all started to change.  Slowly, but change was eminent.  My mama’s words “You EAT if someone takes the time or spends the money to FEED you. It’s not an option. It’s polite.” echoed in my head when I’d go to friends’ houses.  A particular BFF in middle school had a father who worked for one of the best seafood restaurants in Minneapolis (I know, SEAfood, in Minnesota?  Four words: Flown In Fresh Daily) and I had a crab cake.  Then I tried crab legs, cracking shells and making a mess.  OK eating could be FUN too!  So, the seafood love was cracked (pun pun).  The same family also introduced me to Chicken Chow Fun, featuring a sweet, yet spicy, sauce, wide noodles, deliciously cooked chicken and egg scrambled in.  So now I had two major food groups to work with: sea food and Chinese. I should note that Italian and pastas were always a favorite – spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, mac and cheese.

Ask me any of my favorite foods and I can tell you exactly when I first tried it.

Sushi?  California in 9th grade visiting one of my mom’s best friends from her Up With People days.

Scallops?  Our annual family trip to Florida for Spring Break at a place called Tin City in Naples.

Whole Roasted Garlic?  A trip where a friend’s dad thought it’d be funny to pressure me in to eating a whole garlic head.  Oh my gawd, like buttah.

I could go on, but really huge props have to go out to my roommate in college for forcing me to try new things. I also owe my slow-cooker abilities to her.  Hi Erin!

Denver was the first to open my world to farmers markets and the world of locally-grown produce.  Moving back to Minnesota, there were 3 farmers markets close to my downtown condo; a balcony to grow my own herbs; and a plethora of restaurants to explore and try new things (head cheese comes to mind as the most adventurous…)

Moving into the Heartland meant a huge adjustment to so many things – but one of the biggest was my grocery shopping.  I went from walking down the street on Saturdays with my reusable bag to driving to the town’s grocery store.  For the staples and packaged goods, it now means an hour drive… to shop at Wal-Mart (don’t get me started).

I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party.  After all, 46.2 Million people live in “rural America” according to the USDA ERS (if you like graphs and charts of this data, click here!).  Whatever that means.

Simply put, if I want it I gotta grow it, or find someone who does – and boy do I like a challenge!

As you’ve seen from my posts, I now have 2 years under my belt of SoDak gardening.  This year will be the first year I’ll have my garden in my own back yard – Hubby even tilled* an additional garden plot for me this fall (see post photo).  The pup has no problem getting comfortable, no matter where my garden is!


Vinny in my Minneapolis balcony garden


Vinny in our new home’s garden!

I’m currently in the planning stages and trying to maximize production and preservation this year.  Goals?  Well thanks for asking! Here’s what I hope to accomplish this year:

  • Seedlings.  Hoping to start my own seedlings of a majority of my vegetables, although I’m intimidated to start my own tomatoes.  I’ve had success with herbs, zucchini, squashes, beans and peas in the past.  Any extras I don’t use in my garden I’d like to donate to kids for their own gardening.
  • Efficiency.  I want to utilize every square inch of my garden – for example,  planting early-harvest veggies in the space that bigger plants (squash, watermelon, tomatoes) will take over when they are full-grown.
  • Canning. I mastered the “easy canning” technique with tomatoes last year, but I hope to get more proficient and have a lot more stored up for winter.  My 5 huge jars of tomatoes only lasted me until January. Whoops.

Have I rambled on enough?  Nothing gets me more excited than the prospect of sunshine and long, warm summer days!

My garden first had the Year of the Zucchini.  Last year was the Year of the Tomato. What will this year bring?!


*Note: As a woman married to a No Till Farmer, I must make a side note that in this case tilling was acceptable – breaking ground and adding in nutrients from fallen leaves and other yard waste to decompose over the winter months 😉


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