Group’s new cookbook to be sold at GardenFest

By late summer, home gardeners usually are reaping the bounty of their efforts – in the form of juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, prolific zucchini and a multitude of other fruits and vegetables – and scrambling to find recipes to make use of them.

The Lycoming County Master Gardeners have a solution – their new, 200-page cookbook titled “From the Garden.”

The book, the first of its kind created by members of the local chapter, will be available for purchase at GardenFest, the group’s open house, planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Penn State Extension office, 542 County Farm Road in the Lysock View Complex, Loyalsock Township.

Members of the county’s Master Gardeners began to meet, brainstorm and gather recipes around the end of last year. It took some late nights to work out the details, members said, but they feel the end product was worth it.

The cookbook’s name is pretty self-explanatory name, said Caroline Brady, of Loyalsock Township.

“Members of the group at large have consistently provided wonderful food for our parties and GardenFest, and the recipes would frequently be requested … so we thought that it would be something that was used and appreciated,” said Brady, who is chairwoman of the garden committee and of the cookbook committee. “Plus, we thought it would be a great way to provide some gardening tips to the public.”

The book was published through an electronic publishing company and was printed in April.

Master Gardeners were asked to submit not only recipes but also gardening tips, she said.

“We have included gardening tips and recipes of all sorts. It has cooking tips, information about food and even how to fold napkins. It has the history about the Master Gardeners (and) includes a black-and-white picture of our garden,” Brady said.

Four hundred recipes give cooks a variety of dishes to try, such as parmesan rosemary shortbread cookies, Amish macaroni salad, crab bisque, Mediterranean quinoa salad, stuffed zucchini, hamburger pinwheels, baklava, Belize-style habanero hot sauce, martian cookies, garlic basil vinegar and banana bread.

A “This n’ That” section has special recipes for things such as household cleaners.

“It has a pretty cover with items from the garden on it and has dividers that look like the old-time seed packets,” Brady said. “It includes a plastic stand so that you can keep the book upright and open on the counter.”

It took a lot of work to get the cookbook to a finished, published product. Brady said everyone wanted to create a quality product so the editing and format always was discussed before a committee.

“We wanted a cookbook that the most inexperienced (as well as) experienced cooks could enjoy. The committee members ranged in experience and expertise, so each recipe was critiqued for its clarity,” she said.

Phone calls to contributors to determine the preciseness of ingredients and measurements were made often. Brady said some committee members would visit the grocery store to check on sizes of cans and bottles, just to be sure.

“I have never discussed pineapples so much in my life,” Brady said.

The book isn’t just a rewarding project the Lycoming Master Gardeners have come together to finish. It’s also a chance for them to share the experience of enjoying foods grown in their own gardens and passing those tastes on to others.

“It is very rewarding to grow plants that will nourish and sustain yourself and your family,” she said. “To watch a plant grow from seed or seedling is one of the most joyous of events in a gardener’s life.

“The color of the garden is cheering, and life can’t get any better when you are able to harvest a result of your hard work,” Brady added. “Then to take that food and create a delicious dish is an artistry of sorts. For someone that cannot paint or sing, the garden and the table is the place where we can be creative and add beauty to the world in our small piece of earth.”

Committee members already are planning a second edition and are in the process of gathering recipes for it.