About The Sun Grown Kitchen

Hello!  The Sun Grown Kitchen combines two of my favorite things that naturally go hand in hand…cooking and gardening.  I have been cooking professionally for about 14 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, gave it up to become a mommy, and found that my favorite place to cook is in my own kitchen for my family.

As for gardening I am no expert, but how can anyone not want free fresh veggies in their backyard?  Gardening for me started several years back in my 300 square foot studio apartment 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 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 recently 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, and a huge raspberry patch.  Now we have a lifetime to make it our own, we plan to add veggie gardens, fruit trees, a patio and many many roasted marshmallows from the fire pit.

About My Food

Homemade food…I love to cook meals from 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 vegetables, variety, and real home cooking.

My life has changed from busy restaurant cooking to my kids pulling chairs up to the counter to help, measuring ingredients, stirring and learning 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!

 

PS…In order to help pay for this site, you may see a few advertisements and I may occasionally put links that generate a small commission when clicked.

  • Dave Rice

    Pretty cool site and cool concept. How about some new recipes even though is winter. Do you have a great spinach gratin recipe using fresh spinach or is frozen just as good for the gratin?

  • Matthew Shilts

    Meryl I really like the site. I will have to try some of your recipes soon.

    • Meryl Downing

      Hey Matt! Glad to hear that, let me know if you try any you like!