Rooting The Sun
Danielle is always dreaming up ways to feast from the season and celebrate the garden. A Virginian turned Californian turned Midwesterner, her blog, Rooting The Sun, is where Danielle shares her approach to cooking, food, and gardening.
I am so happy to have Danielle of Rooting The Sun on the show today.
(*All photos below are Danielle’s.)
On Discovering Her Passion for Gardening and Growing Food:
I started growing food about four years ago. My mother had always experimented with vegetable gardens. One year, I actually just thought to myself, “Man, I really love eggplants — and I still do — but wouldn’t it be cool to just do it myself?” So I did. I just got my hands dirty. And that year, the deer ate all of it. We did not get any eggplant.
But that was pretty much the beginning. From there, the gardens have gotten bigger and bigger. I’ve been in and out of some commercial gardening aspects here and there. But mostly we do personal cultivation on a large scale. I just call it the yard farm.
Gardening has really helped me define food in a light I feel really treasured to be able to see it in. We’ve been able to use it as a definition of the seasons, where food at its peak always tastes the freshest. So it’s great to incorporate what we have into what we eat. We’re not doing it for survival, but it’s been a great and delicious learning experience.
On Crops That are Easier for Beginners:
I would definitely say that if you like to eat salad, then go ahead and grow it. Leaf lettuce is super easy to grow, and you can benefit from that all season long. Also, I think zucchini comes to mind. Once you get a zucchini plant started, it doesn’t stop. It’s a plant that your neighbors will benefit from, too. Also, radishes, tomatoes, and herbs, they’re all good choices as well.
On Crops Beginners May Want to Avoid:
If you’re just beginning, I would probably stay away from both artichokes and asparagus. Artichokes are not impossible. We’ve actually done them a few different seasons in a couple of different places, but they have a very specific growing need that can be hard to fulfill depending on where you are. And then asparagus as well, if you’ve been nomadic like I have, then it can take up to three years to yield a crop. So you have to stay put to get asparagus. It’s a waiting game, but once they get started, you’ll be able to benefit from it for years.
On Gardening for City Dwellers:
This is really good, because currently, our setup is an urban area. And it always feels really amazing to exchange conversation with our neighbors, just to actually reiterate that you really don’t need a lot of space to be able to grow your own food. Even in a large city, you could potentially do a garden completely in containers, and get really good results. And almost anything can be cultivated in a pot. But standouts are probably tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas. And you can even do root crops like carrots. I’ve done beets before. It was kind of crazy, but it worked.
On Some Resources for Gardening and Growing Your Own Food:
As far as books go, there is definitely a wealth of very informed literature, like bible-esque books on gardening and vegetable gardening. I thrifted a book entitled, Crockett’s Victory Garden recently. It’s from the 1970s. I think he was actually a PBS show. But he goes month by month in his book as far as what vegetables to do each month of the year. I really like books that are laid out like that. As far as online, I really like Gayla’s blog You Grow Girl. She has an amazing source of knowledge on her website. And I also like Andrea’s blog Dishing Up the Dirt. She is a huge inspiration.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I don’t really watch many cooking shows, but I’ve been watching a lot of Jacques Pepin on PBS.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
For food blogs, I really love Orangette, I love The Yellow House, I love Lottie + Doof, 101 Cookbooks, Kale & Caramel, Chocolate + Marrow, Will Frolic for Food. Of those, they’re all very awesome for reading as well. It’s really hard to pick because I love everyone so much, but I really adore the recipes on With Food + Love and Heartbeet Kitchen as well.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I’ll probably go with treasured and that would be a spice rack that I gained from my grandmother. I love it because it makes me think of her cooking but also because I love spices. I think they’re everything.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Onions, which is actually, I think, a story of revenge because I use them every day and constantly. And I think that I might actually be more allergic to them than most people. I’m timed out for, like, at least 20 minutes after I’ve cut onions.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
As far as a few cookbooks, I love Local Flavors by Deborah Madison. I think it has really awesome seasonal recipes and she uses vegetables in a really unique way. I also love The Art of Simple Food I and II, by Alice Waters.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I don’t think I have a particular song or album in mind, but recently, I have a really big soft spot for Steely Dan. And pretty much every other kind of music and song in the universe. I really love music.
On Keeping Posted with Danielle:
I think that the best way would probably be Instagram. I use that social media platform the most out of all of them.