Melissa Draper
Stir-fry is a simple way to use your garden vegetables.

When we were first married, my husband and I looked forward to the day we could plant and cultivate our own garden. A few years later, we bought our first home, a townhome with a small back patio, not what most people think of as the ideal place to grow vegetables. But with a little help from square-foot gardening, for the past five years we have been able to make our dream a reality with our garden producing more than enough vegetables for our family.

Gardening takes dedication and effort, and my husband and I have now come up with a good division of labor: He does the majority of work on the garden and I figure out how to use all it produces. Along with the usual ideas of freezing and canning, I have collected a number of recipes I use each year, from July to September, when all the produce comes pouring into my kitchen.

For me, the easiest and quickest way to use up fresh vegetables has been a simple stir-fry. Cut up some carrots, peppers, squash, celery or onions — really almost any vegetables you choose to grow in your garden — and toss them into a pan with a little olive oil. Cook them for a few minutes and you have a side to any dish. Toss in some eggs, ham and rice, and you have ham-fried rice. Try frying some red peppers and onions, adding a little bit of cooked chicken, and you have a tasty fajita mixture to serve on tortillas. Or simply add stir-fry sauce and ginger to your vegetables with a little chicken, and serve over rice for a tasty stir-fry recipe, as seen below. The possibilities are endless.

After putting so much work into cultivating our garden, it feels good to know I can use it all to make delicious meals for my family.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

3-4 chicken breasts cut into chunks

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 vegetables, diced

¼ to ½ cups bottled stir-fry sauce

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Cook chicken in fry pan on stove over medium heat. Remove from pan and put on plate. In same pan, cook vegetables with olive oil. When finished, make an empty space in pan. In empty space, add stir-fry sauce and ground ginger. Mix together. Let it bubble in pan, and then mix in vegetables and chicken. Serve over rice.

Melissa Draper lives in Payson with her husband and their three children. Her passions include being a wife and mother, writing, running and music.