In The Kitchen
You can't beat the taste of fresh food! Weather you grow it in your garden, buy it at a local farmers market, or purchase it at the grocery store—fresh food taste better! Additionally, it often provides more nutrients than processed foods and doesn't have all those preservatives and other ingredients no one can pronounce! There's nothing in a fresh tomato but tomato!
You donít have to be a gourmet chef to prepare some really wonderful meals from the garden. Like anything, you can choose to be as complicated or simple as you want to be in the kitchen. If you don't have much experience yet, start out with some simple recipes and build your confidence and skills from there. Click on the vegetables linked on the Veggies page to learn about how to select, store, and generally prepare specific vegtables.
Regardless of whether you get your vegetables from your own garden or from a market, be sure to wash them before you use them. In the case of your own garden it's mostly a matter of soil and other natural residues and whatever else you may choose to use on your garden. In the case of store-bought veggies, it's even more important to wash them as many food producers use chemicals in their farming process that you might not care to ingest—so be safe and wash your produce before using it.
Some vegetables store better/longer than others, and some have different storage methods. The individual vegetable pages linked on the Veggies page provide you with some specific information, but in general, most vegetables don't want to be stored wet. So if you wash your produce when you bring it in, it's best to dry it, or wrap it in a paper towel to absorb it's moisture before refrigerating or otherwise storing.
Cooking and otherwise preparing foods in the kitchen is nothing to be afraid of. If you're not an experienced cook you may start out feeling like you're all thumbs, but before long you'll find yourself right at home in the kithchen. You'll likely have a few disapointments along the way, but you're bound to have more sucesses and I guarantee you'll learn a lot as you go! Follow recipes as you start out, and as you build your confidence you'll find some shortcuts along the way — before you know it, you'll be whipping up a new favorite dish without even looking at the recipe — Really!
Instructions for canning and preserving foods are outside the scope of the From Plant to Plate project. If you are inexperienced in the kitchen, get used to using vegetables fresh from the garden or market. Once you've got that down, look into learning to can, freeze, or otherwise preserve your fresh foods for use throughout the year. It's really a wonderful feeling to pop open a jar of your favorite vegetables in the middle of winter and enjoy that wonderful home-made fresh flavor! And of course, learning to preserve your own food extends the financial benefits of using fresh foods throughout the year.