Garden Gnome Ecosystems

Creating a sustainable system for gnomes to play in.


First Food from the Garden

first garden salad

Well, first garnish.

Thinned basil seedlings over my standard salad – greens, apple, cheese, and honey mustard dressing. The flavours went together surprisingly well. Or maybe I was just so excited to be eating something that I grew that I pretended the flavours went together well.

First Garden Salad


  • 2 handfuls of greens
  • 1/2 an apple, chopped (with a few chunks missing)
  • 2 slices of cheese, chopped
  • 3 spoonfuls of lime juice for apple-chunk-dunking, and too-thick-dressing-thinning
  • 1 spoonful of this dressing (I made mine with mustard powder, which is why it needed thinning, and the resulting dressing was very citrusy)
  • Basil sprout snippings


  1. Layer in a pretty bowl.
  2. Wander outside and take pictures of first garden salad, because it’s finally warm enough to go outside without socks!
  3. Eat salad.

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Roasted Corn Quinoa

My mom is a great, if not slow, cook. She was also vegan for a couple years of her life, so it figured that many of the recipes we ate often growing up were vegan ones. Every once in a while dad made burgers or chili…and I’m still not a fan of meat.

When I first started trying to live grain-free, I was also keeping legumes out of my diet; none of my favourite recipes fit the bill. I made roasted corn quinoa to serve with pan fried fish and veggies a couple nights per week, since fish was the only meat I could successfully cook and eat in less than 30 minutes. I make a mean roast chicken too, but that takes planning and time. I’m a university student. Other than crockpot meals, I don’t do much meal planning. At that time I was a sickly university student who didn’t enjoy food, because it didn’t like me. I didn’t do meal planning

Sometimes I’d get lazy, and just make quinoa and corn. And then I’d eat the entire batch with the help of my husband. If there were, by chance, leftovers, usually they’d be gone by the time I woke up, because my husband ate them cold for breakfast.

It’s a step up from instant noodles, peanut butter sandwiches, and Kraft Dinner, but almost as easy.

Grab your trusty cast-iron pan, and set it to medium heat.

Wonder why you still keep the corn in the downstairs deep-freeze when quinoa and corn are staples. Fetch corn. Call it a work-out for the day.

Measure corn, and allow to thaw (I sometimes run it under hot water to speed up the process.

Measure quinoa, and rinse. Rinse again.

Add some coconut oil to the pan, and then the corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir occasionally.

roasting corn

Add quinoa after the corn starts to brown.

toasting quinoa

Stir occasionally. Once the quinoa is toasting and popping (about a minute) add the broth.

adding the broth

roasted corn quinoa

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let it be for about 15 minutes. Wash the dishes from last night, when you were writing an essay, snacking and leaving your mess everywhere. That’s just me? Oh.

simmering roasted corn quinoa

At this point, you could start pan frying some fish, or put the veggies on to steam. They fit into this space quite perfectly.

Or you could just eat the quinoa, and reminisce about being a university student, and eating all of whatever one dish you made. Om nom nom.

roasted corn quinoa

Roasted Corn Quinoa (slightly adapted from Mark Bittman’s Quinoa and Corn, found in How to Cook Everything)


  • 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil*
  • 1 1/2 cups corn; if frozen, thawed
  • 3/4 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add oil.
  2. When oil is hot, add corn and salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until corn begins to brown.
  3. Add quinoa and let cook until you can hear some popping, about one minute.
  4. Stir in broth, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and cover. Cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft.


*the coconut oil makes this dish seem a little sweeter, and there is a hint of coconut flavour – something my family loves – but the olive oil might be a better choice if you want a truly savoury dish, or if you don’t like coconut.