Homegrown health — Sharing our love for gardening

Gardening gives us with a chance to enjoy the outdoors and provides us with ripe, natural vegetables during the summer months.  Vegetables grown at home (or at grandma’s house) are usually exposed to fewer chemicals and are much fresher than store-bought produce.

Julie and James Roberts

Boone Hospital employees are proud to share their gardens, why they garden and some of their favorite recipes using homegrown foods.

Here is what Julie Roberts had to say about her garden:

Well, it goes back to roots! You could call it family roots. My grandparents had gardens with vegetables and strawberries. I helped pick the strawberries when I stayed with them as a child.  Growing up, my parents had a garden and my mom canned various vegetables.  They always tasted extra good in the winter when she would fix green beans or put tomatoes in her chili.”

Julie and James are expecting their first child, Johanna Marie, in August. They are already canning this year’s produce for when their daughter arrives.

“I worked hard to can all these carrots, so she better not spit them back at me,” said Julie, with a laugh.

Gail White

I have always loved to flower garden, and my husband has been longing for years to have a spot for some vegetables.

However, our only sunny spot is our front yard.

Consequently, I hogged all the sunny spots for my flowers.  Last year we grew tired of mowing, fertilizing, and seeding our grass, only to have it look ragged by late summer.

We decided to take the tiller to the front lawn and have since planted a menagerie of vegetables and flowers with paths, a fountain, trellises, and raised beds. It is a work in progress, but is taking shape. It has become a haven for hummingbirds and other wildlife that we enjoy every day!

Karen Elmore

This is the first little garden I have ever done.  We have grown basil and rosemary before but never any veggies.

I just thought it would be fun to have a few things that we grow ourselves. It is a fun project for the whole family.  I didn’t want to dig up the yard so we put them in the brick planter we have on our patio.

We generally eat our veggies raw. However, we do use our basil on the tomatoes, and put fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar over the top.  We also roast our red peppers on the grill and the red chilies we use as a taco seasoning.

Beatrice Erisman

I like gardening because I am outside and enjoy seeing things grow.

I enjoy all the vegetables and also put a lot of them up either canning or freezing them.

They are the best fresh though!

All of my grandkids enjoy helping except when it comes to the weeding!

Hamburger Skillet Dinner

  • 1 lb of ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, cut in julienne strips
  • 1 yellow summer squash, cut in julienne strips
  • 2 carrots, cut in julienne strips
  • 1 pint of canned whole tomatoes
  • Spices to your taste-salt, pepper
  • oregano, basil, garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Brown ground beef, drain and add vegetables, spices and sugar.

Simmer for 5-10 minutes until vegetables are tender crisp then add about 1/2 cup Minute Rice to absorb the liquid.

Let simmer for 5 minutes till rice is done and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.

Enjoy! It is great with sweet corn from the garden.

Mary Jane Oswald

This year, I am growing:  lettuce, peas, onions, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, corn, a variety of hot peppers, green and red bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

Gardening is how I recharge my batteries at the end of the day.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction to grow and have healthy plants in my garden.  I like to can the surplus and have it all winter as well.  I enjoy sharing with others the extra that is left.

Squash Casserole

  • Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray
  • Layer thin slices of tomato, onion, squash and zucchini in the small casserole dish
  • You will have several layers (2-3) then top it off with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and dot with butter
  • Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10-15 minutes

Kate Pitzer:

We love to garden because both my boys enjoy digging in the dirt, and I think it is important for all of us to know how healthy food is grown.

We compost many of our kitchen scraps and take turns “feeding” the garden.  This year we are growing (or have grown) lettuces, strawberries, thornless blackberries, red and green bell peppers, okra, all types of tomatoes, including sweet cherry tomatoes, mini seedless watermelons, and lots of herbs.

Last year we grew our own pumpkins.  We don’t use pesticides so that the neighborhood kids can safely pick a strawberry or blackberry right out of the garden to enjoy.  Instead, we rely on lots of marigolds and our German Shepherd to keep the deer and bunnies at bay.

Summer Salad

  • Fresh lettuces (this weekend I used romaine, arugula and red lettuce), chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, whatever you have on hand (we love basil!)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved, or 1-2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • Good balsamic vinegar (we use 12 year old balsamic, from World Harvest in Columbia), drizzled to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste (if you use good balsamic vinegar, you can omit this); basil flavored oil also is nice
  • A few shavings of good hard cheese (parmigiano, reggiano, asiago, aged hard cheddar, etc. – World Harvest has a great selection)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chopped lettuce with torn or chopped leaves of fresh herbs.  Add tomatoes and cheese shavings, and drizzle with vinegar and oil, to taste.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Blackberry Muffins

Streusel Topping

  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted


  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 Cup Lowfat Sour Cream
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ Cups Fresh Blackberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place 12 paper liners in a muffin tin.  Set aside.


In a small bowl, stir together the sugars, flour, and cinnamon.  Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.


In a separate small bowl, mix the milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract.  In a larger bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the egg melted butter and sour cream mixture.  Stir everything just until evenly moistened.  The batter will be lumpy. Carefully sprinkle in the blackberries (reserving 12 of the berries) and gently fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula. Take care not to break up the fruit too much.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  Place one berry on top of each muffin and lightly press down with your finger until it is partly submerged.  Cover each muffin with the Streusel Topping, dividing it evenly.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

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