Saturday, January 12, 2013

From Sharolyn’s Kitchen!

As I sit here with my hot mug of tea getting ready to start this day ---it’s 25 degrees outside in Gilbert, AZ!

Supposedly, it’s the coldest snap --- and the longest enduring –that the area has seen in the past 30 years.

Down here, there are two growing seasons, and right now the winter veggies are just about at their end – the spring planting will begin on February 15th!

On one of our jaunts yesterday we had a great lunch out with my two married nieces, and I got to meet my great niece, Myah for the first time ---and we were even able to convince my nephew, Spencer to tag along ---there was food involved, after all!

I’ll write more about where we went in another post, but I wanted to share with you the public gardens where people can rent a plot and grow grow grow!

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These gardens are in an area called “Agritopia”  in Gilbert, AZ.  You will notice that things are being covered up, and covered up QUICKLY due to the incoming freeze. 

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It’s so wonderful to see things growing so lush and green in a desert environment in January!

There was lettuce, spinach, carrots, Swiss chard, broccoli, beets, onions, garlic, and even cherry tomatoes that were kept growing under the cover of tarps to keep the chill air away.

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These peppers have seen better days, but their color was so pretty in the sunshine I had to take a photo anyway!

When we arrived home ---a plan was made to cover what could be covered in my Sister-in-law’s own garden ---and we harvested what we could for a wonderful garden meal of broccoli soup and spinach salad with strawberries.

We laughed as it was declared that “Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by the color ---GREEN!”

Sharolyn’s Spinach Salad:

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3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard (ground)
1 -1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Blend the above and add 1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion.  Allow to marinate at LEAST 4 hours, but Sharolyn says it actually tastes better if you make the dressing the day before, giving the flavors more time to meld.

Spinach – fresh from the garden in our case!
sliced mushrooms
shredded mozzarella cheese
bacon crumbles
sugared pecans
sliced strawberries

No amount is given on her recipe card ---it’s all depending on what is in the fridge!

We were actually out of the pecans, so sliced almonds were substituted, and it was very very good.


Broccoli Soup:

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
8 cups broccoli florets
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
ground black pepper to taste
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and sauté onion and celery until tender. Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
We used an immersion blender to blend the soup right in the cooking pot ---but you can pour small amounts into a regular blender to puree the soup, adding the soup back to the pot if you so desire.

You decide how blended you want your consistency to be.  I like it when the soup still has some chunks to it.

In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir in flour and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly, and add to soup. Season with pepper and serve.

Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon if desired. 

It was a great meal served with hearty French bread slices to dip into our soup and get every last bit out of the bowls!

YUMMY dinner, and great game night with family!


  1. Its in the 70s here back home in NC today. :o)

  2. I love those gardens, in Germany they have them all over the place with a small hut. In UK I meant the nicest people working their gardens.

  3. I'm not too far away in Chandler, near Sun Lakes, and it is indeed CHILLY!!! Good day to stay in and work on Easy Street... :) Your friend made a great choice taking you over to Agritopia - Joe's Farm Grill and the Coffee Shop are the best!

  4. It is 9 degrees right now in Denver and everyone is waiting for the Broncos and the Ravens game to get started. LOL I'll get some sewing in while the game is on. Glad you got to visit with your nieces. That Broccoli Soup looks good. I'll have to try making it.

  5. It was 5 degrees here this morning with 10 inches of snow. It is 1:00 and only 14 degrees. Also working on Easy Street.

  6. It's 14 below and sunny here in Kamloops, BC........coolest we've had for awhile. Definitely sewing weather!

  7. Downunder Australia is experiencing record High temperatures throughout the country with devestating bushfires across 3 states during the last week, fortunately for our wonderful volunteer firefighters they are under control with no loss of life!

  8. Anonymous4:16 PM EST

    I am in Arizona, too, and we have sheets, towels and blankets over all of the frost sensitive plants. I am staying in my warm sewing room and stitching away on Easy Street.
    ~June in AZ

  9. Wow, that's colder than here in Canada! Granted I live on the Wet Coast (alias BC). Stay warm!

  10. Anonymous6:06 PM EST

    Here in St. Louis, we had a high of 67 yesterday and will have a low of 28 tonight. With the cold we now have rain which will change to a rain/freezing rain/snow mix tonight. As it is said, "If you don't like the weather here, wait 20 minutes." So true!

    Anyway, I have a recipe for a similar layered Strawberry Spinach Salad. If you are in a hurry, the bottled Raspberry Vinegarette salad dressing is a great substitute for the homemade dressing on this salad. For an easy summer party, this salad is great with marinated grilled chicken on a stick.

  11. It was 76 here is South Georgia today. Is it really January? Glad you're enjoying the family time. It's precious!

  12. Hope you tookl some warm clothes with you going to the south. Getting warm this weekend in Maryland. Benn working on Easy Street.

  13. It was almost 60 degrees in mid-Michigan today! Normal is around 25. But like Nancy said, wait and it will change! We have rain coming to night with temps dropping. It is to become freezing rain and snow. Blech.

  14. Both of those recipes sound so good, I pinned them!

  15. Wow, that's so cold! I never imagined the desert would get that cold in day light. We have trouble with frosts "burning" our veges down here in Australia in winter. At the moment we're covering them up to prevent the summer sun frying them! We've had such a hot dry spell with temps over 40. I think that's like 110f.


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