The Garden of Eatin’….

…exists at Birkdale and is the brainchild of Williams Sonoma manager Elizabeth Brown. Since Williams Sonoma often does cooking demos, it made sense to Elizabeth that a community garden be the source of the food samples.  When she suggested the idea to DDR, the management company for Birkdale Village, they jumped on the idea.  Ground was weeded and plowed, irrigation systems were altered, fencing was established and oh, the residents of Birkdale had the opportunity to develop their own small plots, too.

Elizabeth showed off her garden plot tonight. She’s so proud of it — and rightly so — that I’m surprised she doesn’t give hourly tours to her customers.  While we were admiring the garden, she even found several Asian eggplants that were ripe and ready for picking. As she carried them back to Williams Sonoma, I asked what she would use them for. “I have no idea,” she told me. “I’ll look up recipes on our website and come up with something!”  I’ve asked her to post that final choice on this blog.

So Williams Sonoma, a big name as far as cooking-related stores go, happens to have a store manager that understands the value of thinking outside the box. By creating a community garden, Elizabeth is able to reach out to the residents in the community and encourage them to share their bounty, or learn creative ways to prepare it, at her store. They share stories, recipes, weed together, talk about their growing techniques and suddenly the “big” store is a community hang out.  And DDR should be commended for their understanding that these efforts are what separates them from other locations, and will be appreciated by the retail outlets for helping to assist their stability in the community.

There are probably a lot of garden puns I could use here — but I’ll leave them for you all. I’ll just say that if you all, like Elizabeth, have an idea, even if it seems a bit out of the ordinary, share it with your Huntersville Connection partners, let them fertilize it and see how it grows…..

 

 

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One thought on “The Garden of Eatin’….

  1. So if you were wondering what Elizabeth from Williams Sonoma made with her Asian eggplants, the recipe is detailed below:

    Grilled Vegetable Platter with Picnic Vinaigrette! Grilled seasonal vegetables make a colorful and festive beginning to a picnic or other outdoor gathering.

    Ingredients:
    For the vinaigrette:
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
    • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 6 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    • 2 red bell peppers
    • 2 yellow bell peppers
    • 4 Asian eggplant
    • 4 zucchini
    • 18 asparagus spears, trimmed and peeled, if
    desired
    • 6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
    • 1/4 cup assorted finely chopped fresh herbs,
    such as flat-leaf parsley and basil
    Directions:
    Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.
    To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil, then add the parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid.
    Place the red and yellow bell peppers on the grill rack and grill, turning, until the skins blacken and blister. Place in a brown paper bag, close tightly and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the peppers and peel off the charred skin. Remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Cut the peppers into 1/2-inch slices. Place on a large serving platter.Cut the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Lightly coat with nonstick olive oil cooking spray and grill, turning once, until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Place on the platter.
    Lightly coat the asparagus spears and tomato halves with cooking spray. Grill, turning once, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes for the asparagus, 8 minutes for the tomatoes. Arrange attractively with the other vegetables on the platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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