Welcome to Sungrown Kitchen!
Hey guys! I'm Meryl, chef, gardener, and mother of two little Minnesotans. The Sungrown Kitchen combines my favorite loves that naturally go hand in hand...Cooking and Gardening!
At Sungrown Kitchen, you'll find recipes inspired by what's growing in the garden, from simple weeknight dinners to kid-friendly ideas, healthier treats and snacks, and all my scratch-cooked, homemade favorite recipes!
My Culinary Background
Prior to motherhood, I worked in restaurants. From prep cooking to line cooking, bartending and serving, to culinary school, more line cooking and eventually managing.
When my first baby was born, I traded in my cooking career to be a stay-at-home mom, took my maternity leave and never went back. In my early days with our new baby, I started this cooking blog so I wouldn't lose sight of my former career, and I always kept my culinary background entwined with my mothering.
I had been cooking professionally for 15 years. While in college studying business at the University of Wisconsin, I got my first restaurant job. I was cooking, prepping, grilling, bartending, learning, and cutting and burning my fingers countless times. After graduating, that job led me to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago.
From there I've worked in a handful of restaurants, probably my favorite being the famous Pump Room at The Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago. It was also a long ago favorite of Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart and countless other celebrities, including the late Dennis Farina - which was quite a thrilling bartending night for me serving the actor (and martini enthusiast!).
I made my way back closer to home in Minnesota, got a job managing a local deli, which is where I hung it up to become a mama, and found that my favorite place to cook is in my own kitchen for my family.
About My Garden
As for gardening, I am learning as I go. Gardening for me started several years back in my 300 square foot studio apartment in the middle of Minneapolis, where I planted a few herbs in my windowsill and convinced my landlord to allow a tomato and zucchini pot on the roof of the building.
From my tiny rooftop garden, I moved in with my husband and we cleared a few feet in our backyard.
I am from a small town in Wisconsin and somehow have always managed to live in big cities since I left. After much searching, we moved to a charming small town with a big backyard for our two kids. Our new house came with a playhouse only needing fresh paint, a crew of neighbor kids, a huge raspberry patch, and a fire pit for lots and lots of marshmallows.
That first summer we built my dream garden, with 8 raised vegetable beds, pollinator wildflowers, and we planted apple and plum trees. We've turned our little spot into our own mini homestead, growing more food, stocking our freezer for the long winters, and having the kids harvest their own snacks.
About My Food
Homemade food...I love to cook meals from scratch, ingredients in their most basic form~simple, fresh, seasonal, and usually pretty healthy. The world has gotten very busy, but I think cooking dinner every night, and eating good meals together is worth making time for.
Above any of the latest food trends or diets, I believe in eating your vegetables, eating a wide variety, and cooking unprocessed foods from scratch. Having a vegetable garden in the backyard make this easier and all the more fun!
My life has changed from busy restaurants to the equally busy chaos of kids pulling chairs up to the counter to help. They measure ingredients, stir, and learn to love real, delicious food. We like to eat "food that makes us grow big and strong" but we make plenty of room for treats too.
My time in the kitchen with them is worth the extra mess, I want to see them cooking for their own families someday. And being from Wisconsin, we eat a lot of cheese!
Follow Sungrown Kitchen on Social Media!
If you’ve tried one of my recipes I’d love to see it! Tag me in a pic, you can also follow along with Sungrown Kitchen on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook to see more garden recipes, what's for dinner, adventures with kids, and what we’ve been up to!
Meryl's Favorite Recipes
These are a few family favorites that I find myself making again and again!