Recipe Roundup: January 2022
Precious wintertime produce
by Cally Peterson
|Meigan Cameron, an NDSU Extension master gardener, still finds a way to get dirt under her fingernails in winter, by turning her Bismarck home into a haven for plants and herbs. There is still room inside, of course, for her furry family member, Roomba.
Photos by NDAREC/Liza Kessel
Even in the depths of winter, Meigan Cameron finds the beauty in nature. She has mastered bringing the outside in, turning her home into a haven for plants and herbs. And, despite the Nanking cherry and apple trees in her yard being draped in white, she strives to include fruits and veggies in her family’s meals.
“In wintertime, fresh veggies are precious, so I like to make good use of what is readily available,” she says.
Cameron, a mother of six and Capital Electric Cooperative member, is a self-taught home cook. She honed her kitchen skills through research and cookbooks, like “Fannie Farmer,” “Desperation Dinners” and “The Flavor Bible,” and says her family was willing to try her food experiments.
“When you’re cooking for an army, you learn how to cook,” she says. “And if you have to do it a lot, you can either get good at it or complain, so I chose to get good at it!”
In 2013, Cameron and her husband moved to Bismarck from Chicago. With her kids grown and husband still working as an engineer, Cameron had time to hone another skill and her true passion, gardening.
She contacted NDSU Extension and learned about its master gardener program. The program is a nationally known volunteer service organization that educates citizens about gardening, the NDSU Extension website states. In return for the education provided, master gardeners are asked to provide volunteer service in their communities, like teaching others about gardening, assisting with horticultural workshops, growing produce for food pantries, managing school and community gardens, designing and maintaining pollinator gardens, and protecting natural resources.
Through the master gardener program, Cameron met other gardeners and soon became president of the Bismarck Mandan Garden Club (BMGC). Club members volunteer their time to maintain eight gardens for the benefit of the public.
“We cooperate with private organizations, like the Dakota Zoo, and city and county organizations, including the city of Bismarck, the city of Mandan and Burleigh County, that own the land to maintain these gardens,” she says. “That, to me, is the most exciting thing the garden club does. It’s a great service to the public.”
Some of the gardens maintained by BMGC include the Mandan marquee garden on the east end of Main Street, the rose garden at Dakota Zoo, the gardens at the former governors’ mansion, and the 26th Avenue and Main Street garden at the east Bismarck welcome entrance, which the club uses as a teaching garden. BMGC holds events for the public here to teach about pollinator gardens.
FEEDING HER SOUL
In some ways, Cameron says feeding people is a lot like gardening. If food looks good and tastes good, it’s a source of contentment. Similarly, our eyes are drawn to the pleasing colors of nature. Cameron appreciates both the green shades of summer and her garden’s winter browns peeking through a blanket of white.
While she anticipates the triumphant return of her garden, filled with crocuses, daffodils, tulips, haskaps and other North Dakota native species to attract bees and butterflies, Cameron will focus on her indoor plant babies and feeding her Bible study group with her latest, and favorite, recipes this winter.
Cameron’s take on the creation story in the book of Genesis seems fitting: “When God puts Adam in the garden to work it, he gives Adam an additional purpose.” As human beings, she says, we want our lives to have meaning and purpose.
The master gardener has found hers.
“When I’m out working in my garden, I know I’m creating beauty for others who live here, and that’s a powerful sense of meaning,” she says.