Grocery Gardening


 The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine.  And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year.  There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.

Alice B. Toklas


We are smack in the middle of garden season with oppressive heat and the occasional stray thunder storm.  And while I hate the heat and humidity, I tolerate it because my warm season vegetables absolutely love this weather.  My latest harvest has slowed as the peas (flower in picture above) are dwindling, the last radishes are harvested and the lettuces are just about done.  But the next wave is about to burst with beans (flowering right), more carrots, Hatch chile peppers, eggplant, squash and tomatoes….oh the tomatoes I have been dreaming of.

And while I love to have a big harvest, I also love to find new recipes.  My latest book review is a great way to enjoy both.  A friend showed me the book a couple of years ago, and I instantly bought it.  Like many books, I shelved it until I had time to give it a good perusal.  Well thanks to Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys and her monthly Garden Book Review meme that takes place on the 20th of every month (I know I am a bit early), I have dusted it off to share with you.



Grocery Gardening

by Jean Ann Van Krevelen

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Cool Springs Press (February 1, 2010)
List Price:  $ 19.95
Amazon Price: $14.08 (Paperback)






In a Few Words

This is a most unusual book in that it combines gardening and cooking; a most wonderful combination if I do say so.  And it was written by a wonderful group of authors headed by, Jean Ann Van Krevelen.  Other authors include:  Amanda Thomsen, Robin Ripley, and Teresa O’Connor.

The book is arranged with information first about gardening, then growing and using edibles in recipes and finally the harvest:

* Gardening 101
* Organic disease and pest management
* Purchasing quality produce
* Edibles
* Preserving your harvest

The edible section alone could be one book, maybe even 2.  There is so much information crammed into the well laid out edible sections:  garden planning, varieties, planting, pests/diseases, harvesting, preparing, preserving and nutritional information.  There are dozens of “Did You Know” and other tips throughout these sections.  If you didn’t know how to grow and use these edibles, you will after reading this book.

The preserving section gets into tips for freezing, drying, canning and preserving.  This section also has a few recipes.


What I Liked

First, I love the way the book is laid out with easy to follow tabs, insets of special charts, lists and tips.  The photography in the book is superb.  It makes my mouth water to look at the edibles and the food cooked using the recipes.

The next thing I like is that this book will appeal to all levels of gardeners.  It is a wonderful resource especially for growing edibles.  The book is also fun to read.  It has wonderful humor and each author brings their own personality to the book.  You can contact the authors through their blogs, Facebook and Twitter so you can stay in touch and see more wonderful growing/cooking information.

But oh the recipes…they are maybe the best part of the book, and they not just the tried and true ones you would typically find.  For instance in the Apple section there is a wonderful applesauce recipe, but there is also an Applejack Chicken recipe and a twist on baked apples, Blue Cheese Baked Apples.  I want to work myself through each section and try every recipe.


Not So Much

I would love to see another book with additional edibles and different ways to grow them such as containers and grow bags.  And of course many more recipes.


Final Thoughts

The concept of Grocery Gardening is a wonderful idea.  After all we grow fruits, veggies and herbs to eat, but we can all use some inspiration with how to use/eat them.  And the authors help us realize we can grow different vegetables throughout the season, and plan our meals with what is seasonal.  If you decide not to grow all these wonderful foods (and I don’t), you can still learn to find local harvests to use in the recipes while contributing to eating locally.

I hope to be inspired to cook more of these wonderful recipes, to create my own recipes and share them with you.



Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French.  Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.
–   Alice May Brock


One of my very favorite things to grow are Hatch green chiles found primarily in New Mexico and in New Mexican cooking.  If you visit NM, you will find these roasted and used on pizza, burgers, eggs and in many Mexican restaurant recipes.  Last year was the first year I grew these, and I am growing about a dozen plants again this year.  They are just getting flowers so in about a month I should start harvesting the peppers for roasting (see them pictured in the black grow bag above).

I was introduced, by Girl Sprout NM, to a new weekly meme, Garden To Table Challenge 2012 (GTTC)@Greenish Thumb every Saturday.  So as part of joining this new meme, I thought I would share how to roast green chiles.  They are easy to grow from seed once started indoors.  I only buy my seeds from a NM grower.  There are so many seeds in the packet you can’t grow them all, and they germinated the second year I used them (this year) too.


Roasting Green Chiles 

I pick them once they are about 8 inches long.   We heat up our gas grill, but you can use an oven, open gas flame or other grill.



You put them right on the grill or in the flame or on a cookie sheet in the oven.  Keep turning them until they blister and burn.

But I don’t let them get too black or they taste a bit bitter to me.  Once they are done roasting, remove them and place them in a plastic baggie. Seal the baggie and let them cool.

Once cooled they will peel easily.  Then store in a baggie or container and use or freeze until you want to use.  Try them in scrambled eggs, salsa, dips, on burgers and in guacamole.  I make a Southwestern chicken soup using these chiles…I’ll share it with you once I start making soup again.


Next up on the blog:  Monday will be another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post.  So much blooming in the garden to share.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I’ll also be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

I hope you will join me for my posts, every other Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.  My next post will feature a beautiful, unusual critter with eight legs.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

72 Replies to “Grocery Gardening”

  1. Excellent review; for British readers I’d like to reccomend “fork to fork” by Monty Don, it may be out of print but is worth searching out. It is especially good at dealing with gluts! Christina

    1. Wonderful Christina…I love the name”fork to fork”. Same idea. I love exploring different books like this to learn more about gardening but also to find yummy recipes. Like the idea of dealing with gluts too!

  2. This seems like a book I would enjoy! I like growing my own food, and wish I could grow more, like citrus. I would like some ideas on how to be more creative when cooking. We like grilling our peppers too. 🙂

    1. Oh you definitely would love this book. I learn so much from recipes. New ideas of how to spice foods, taste combos I had never thought of and then I might tweak them a bit or leave them alone. Roasting peppers are the best whether sweet red or green chiles or any for that matter…I may try to grill a few other hot varieties that are doing better than the sweet ones.

    1. And so easy to grow although many told me it was impossible…not really…just some good sun, warm summer and soil.

    1. It is a really great book Tina…what more could we want…how to better garden and grow these edibles and how to better cook them…very yummy and those peppers are very yummy.

  3. Well Donna, I must say those green chiles do look tempting and as much as I enjoyed your book review grocery gardening is not very likely to become my thing. So far we have had three cucumbers (mini ones) and two servings of salad leaves. I wish I could take away a little of your uncomfortable heat as the Summer temperature here has seldom been above 56f.

    1. Oh now I did not realize how down right chilly it could be. What are the usual night temps in summer? I count myself lucky then that I am able to grow vegetables Alistair no matter the harvest which is meager some years.

  4. Thanks for the great review! My summer has been a bit too hot and dry for most of my veggies to flourish, except for the peppers. They love he heat! But I also always plant tomatoes, though they quit producing in 100+ heat. Home grown tomatoes are a highlight of the summer.

    1. Sorry to hear that Deb. Perhaps as it cools the tomatoes will recover enough to bloom and grow. They are indeed the highlight of the summer. Glad though you enjoyed the post.

  5. Donna, your chiles are making me hungry! They look absolutely gorgeous. The first time a waitress asked me whether I wanted “red or green” when I ordered scrambled eggs for breakfast threw me for a loop… Now I can’t imagine going without!

    Re: the book, are the recipes really seasonally focused? I always get frustrated by “spring” recipes that call for peas, etc., and then a tomato, too — as if you’ll find tomatoes at the farmer’s market in May! I’ve been looking for a truly seasonal cookbook for a long time, and this one looks promising.

    1. Glad you liked them Stacy. They are setting up and flowering and I imagine to have chiles early this year. As far as seasonal, I think it is close. I think it may depend on the area of the country you are in. For me fall peas and tomatoes would be producing agt the same time, but my spring peas are just finishing and tomatoes are not ready. Also they talk a lot about putting up your harvest so therefore you could mix and match seasons. But from what I could see, I found that they try to stay to seasonal harvests in the recipes although they are not written as “spring” or “summer”, but by the edible. Perhaps your library would have a copy for you to check out first.

  6. This book sounds wonderful. I have been wanting to find a cookbook that has many more vegetable recipes. I’ll have to check this one out! And those green chilies – oh, yum! I may have to try growing some of these next year. What a treat they would be (although my husband doesn’t really like them). I like them best served stuffed with cheese and chicken. Mmmmmmmm

    1. Oh now I need that recipe for the chiles. Hope you enjoy the book. They sell mild, medium and hot chile seeds. I grow the medium heat.

  7. Oh all your hard work is paying off and none of my plant eating rabbits visited…I cooked from a very young age..mostly out of necessity and by the time I was in my 40’s disliked it very much. I wonder if I could find room and grew my own vegs if I would enjoy cooking. Last summer we had one container tomato plant that produced one tomato..but it was a very well loved tomato…great post…Michelle

    1. If you plant one or 2 things in containers, that is a great way to start. Let me know and I will help. I could pinch myself that the garden plants are doing so well. I have learned so much again this year to help improve next year.

  8. I love love love the quotes at the beginning and end of the post. I have my Alice May Brock cookbook autographed by Arlo Guthrie. 🙂 🙂
    Learned how to cook from that book…Alice’s Restaurant.

    1. Janet how unbelievable is that to have Brock’s book and then to have Arlo autograph it…I was so surprised by your comment…made me smile!

  9. Hi Donna, that’s a lot to regurgitate about, haha! I can smell the roasted chilis, hmmm! I love your photos too, but i love most the quotation by Alice May Brock, hahaha!

  10. Donna, Thank you so much for the very insightful review of “Grocery Gardening”! I have been searching for a new book to read, and that sounds like the perfect one! Your peppers look awesome! Happy Gardening! Mindy

  11. Donna, thanks for the shout out. I’ve started reading more gardening books since Holley started her meme. I’ve been buying kindle books for my tablet, but I checked it out on amazon and it was on sale so I purchased it. The tabs make it sound nicer to have a hard copy than reading on a screen. Anything that combines food and gardening is a winner to me.

    Your green chiles looks delicious!

  12. Hi Donna! It is not very clear to me how women could think of their plants as babies, since they cook and eat them at the end. Maybe it is some kind of mother instinct drove to exaggeration that I won’t never get, being a guy.
    The book you talked about seems very interesting, I always thought about some reference about both growing and cooking vegetables, I’m going to look for it!
    I didnt understand if the chile peppers you roast are hot or not. We have some similar peppers in Italy, called ‘friggitelli’, that we use to roast or deep fry. They taste a little bitter but not hot at all.

    1. Alberto you made me laugh as I tried to think of why we call them our babies…i think it is maternal like we are raising them like children. The chiles I grow have some heat to them but these are not the hottest. I grow the ones that are medium in heat. They do have hotter ones and I am growing hotter peppers too. I also roast sweet peppers. I need to grow some more of the sweet in the future like the ones used for ‘friggitelli’…. it looks yummy.

  13. the very top photo is gorgeous

    I planted tomatoes one year and it was wonderful to use them in salads
    gardening is so rewarding

    1. I have grilled a lot of vegetales Heather but have not roasted them except for peppers both chiles and sweet peppers. I’ll have to give them a try.

  14. What a fabulous post!! I liked the photo of peppers charring! I m going to be on the lookout for this book too!

  15. Thanks for the heads up on the book. BTW, I would love to have chilies like yours available here in our home. My mom makes pickled chili peppers but I’m sure yours will have a different taste and texture. In this case, the more choices, the better.

      1. You should give it a try. The chilies she uses are just mildly spicy so it’s a nice side dish with the crunch, spice and sourness.

  16. Donna, Thanks for such a comprehensive review. There are so, so many books on the market that it’s always helpful to get an educated, unbiased review before buying. I love the idea of recipes included in the book, such a simple but often neglected addition.

    1. Thanks Carolyn…I was just saying to the hubby that if we are going to travel more when I retire, we will have to garden differently…

  17. Oh, those roasted chilies look divine! I’m still waiting on my tomatoes to ripen, but the eggplants are starting to come in. It’s funny, I grew up ‘grocery gardening’. We either ate what we grew, or if we purchased produce, it was local and always what was in season. The week’s menu was always planned around what you could find, instead of planning the menu, and then shopping for ingredients. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I discovered you could have any type of fruit or vegetable you wanted year around. Now I’ve come full circle, and am cooking seasonally again, but it’s been a slow, and sometimes challenging transition to go back to the ‘old ways’. I’d like to more books like this one, broken down by season, with a variety of recipe options.

    1. Clare how nice to be able to grocery garden. The book is more broken up by each different edible than by season. If I had the time and the space (and was younger), I would be growing more of my own. Eggplants are just starting to flower and some tomatoes may actually ripen this week (I hope).

  18. Mmmm, those chiles look delish! And I’ve heard about that book. Glad to hear your veggie garden is doing so well! I’m enjoying my CSA shares again this summer (since I have a very small veggie garden). This week we got Squashes, Zucchinis, Cucumbers, and many other luscious veggies. Enjoy!

    1. You have more from your CSA than I have from my garden. It is small as well and we are still waiting for a good amount of zukes, okra, tomatoes, beans and eggplant. Hope rain is finding you and your garden! We had a quarter of an inch today.

  19. Great harvest! I wait and plant my tomatoes until the middle of May, so I am still patiently waiting for the first one to ripen 🙂 The book looks interesting and very relevant with the trend toward sustainable living… Great post!

    1. Thanks Rebecca…I am awaiting the first tomato to ripen as well as I plant them in mid to late May…maybe this week.

    1. Thank you…yes those peas are just such an unbelievable treat…had to pull them and just replanted for fall…can’t wait to do it all over again!

  20. I love to use Oregano on the salad dressings that i use. Oregano helps to give some minty flavor on the salad. ,:,;` Thanks again

  21. This year is the first year I feel like I’ve had a real vegetable garden that has done well, and I am so hooked! Fresh veggies are so great to have, and the kids love them too. I have a lot to learn when it comes to growing veggies – this sounds like a great book!

    1. Indie this is a great book for those still learning or even beginners…it is an obsession isn’t it…I spend more time on the veg garden than anything else now and look to expand it every year…

  22. I’ve been intending to read Grocery Gardening and thanks to your review I need to go get a copy! (I love your quotes!)

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