Monday, April 5, 2010

The World's First Grocery Gardening Party

Not long after Grocery Gardening hit bookstores in February 2010, I received a congratulatory call from some good friends in California. They wanted to celebrate by hosting a potluck dinner featuring recipes from the book. And since they know I'm a big fan of local foods, they wanted to buy many of the ingredients from their local Farmer's Market.

The world's first Grocery Gardening Party (or GG Party) was born.

I knew this GG party would rock, because: One, these folks are not just supportive friends, they are excellent cooks. Two, they know how to throw a good party. And three, for better or worse, most national trends do tend to start in California.

Being thousands of miles away myself, I lived vicariously through real-time Tweets and emailed reports, but you can see for yourselves how much fun they had.

Here's their menu, as well as mouthwatering pictures photographed by Kurt Triffet. There is even a recipe below for you to try. Cheers!

The World's First GG Party - Menu

Chive Dip and Vegetables (shown above)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

Baby Spinach Salad with Blueberries and Pecans

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Risotto

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (recipe included)

Mascarpone Crostata with Strawberries and Apples

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tarts (pages 150-151) offered a way to enjoy all the asparagus available at spring markets. This vegetarian dish provides a healthy dose of this low calorie, nutritious vegetable.

Baby Spinach Salad with Blueberries and Pecans (page 197) combines tender spinach with berries, nuts and feta cheese to provide a new twist on an old favorite.

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Risotto (page 181) is the ultimate comfort food, featuring aromatic sage and fennel seeds.

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (page 92) were a big hit at the GG party. So, I'm sharing the recipe for you to try yourself...

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (from Grocery Gardening)

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1/4 cup dried currants

1/4 cup dried cranberries

4 large baked apples (such as Courtland, Pippin, Braeburn or Gravenstein),
well-washed and cored (don't pierce the bottoms of the apples)

1/4 to 1/2 cup cubed and crumbled blue cheese (such as Roquefort, Stilton or Cambozola)

1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the pecans, currants and cranberries in a small bowl; mix well. Fill the apple cavities with the pecan-fruit mixture. Top with a cube or spoonful of the blue cheese.

Place the stuffed apples in a small baking dish and add the boiling water to the pan. Bake 20 minutes, until the apples are softened but not falling apart.

Mascarpone Crostata with Strawberries and Apples (page 140) provided a decadent way to end the meal. This Italian fruit pie/tart concoction is easy to make too.

Plus, there were even leftovers. What could be better than that?

Some of the brains, cooks and planners behind the world's first GG Party take a break to pose for a picture. Special thanks to all who made this happen... Lori, Claudia, Cathi, Jim, Kathy, Carrie, Kurt, Rhonda, Ti, Isabel and Lee.

Learn More about Grocery Gardening.


  1. Nice write up! The book is great, the recipes are delicious and your advice and perspective are always a treat to me.

  2. Hi Kathy: Thanks for everything you did to make the first GG Party a success... You might want to add "party planner" to your long list of skills! ;) Teresa

  3. Wow, that looks delish. I am going to make the risotto for dinner! and the apples. Maybe we will eat the apples first~!

  4. Shawna and Mary Ann: Thanks for the comments. I must admit I got a little hungry writing this post myself. Warm regards, Teresa

  5. Wow! Too bad you couldn't have been there. Everything looked great.

  6. Kim and Victoria: I know! I hated to miss the bash. They are a great group of people, and they cook well too... At least technology helped them seem a bit closer. ;) Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this lovely start to spring. Best to you both, Teresa

  7. blue cheese baked apples...yummm!

  8. I just ready your edible flowers article with NHGC and looked you up online. I'm a professional chef and cooking instructor in the Phoenix area, vegetable grower and daughter of a master gardener. We are currently working on getting our organic bread into the farmer's markets here in Arizona. I would love to share that article with my readers (I'm constantly introducing new ideas on food...and cooking with floral is one of my favorites...)as well as the information on your book. It looks fantastic! I think it would be mutually benefitial.

  9. Hi Chef Tess: Thanks for your message. I'm delighted you liked the edible flower article in Gardening How-To Magazine. It was a lot of fun to write as well. Best of luck with your new organic bread product. I'm pleased you'd like to share copies of that article as well as Grocery Gardening information. Please let me know how I can help. Teresa O'Connor