Orange Home Grown Community Cookbook
Orange Home Grown Community Cookbook

The sounds of knives on cutting boards, simmering sauces and cameras clicking filled Megan Penn’s kitchen for several days in 2021.  She and her board members weren’t preparing for a big family get-together or catering an event.  They were cooking up something special that would become the Orange Home Grown Community Cookbook, an 84-page collection of seasonal recipes and short stories.

“So much love and time went into the creation of this book,” says Penn, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Orange Home Grown.  “We hope that can be felt as readers flip through the pages.  I am just so proud of the end product.”

Orange Home Grown started in 2009 as a grass-roots effort by a group of Orange residents dedicated to bringing locally grown, nutrient-dense and sustainable food to their community.  The nonprofit organization runs the Orange Home Grown Certified Farmers & Artisans Market and the Orange Home Grown Education Farm, the latter dedicated to urban farming education.

For several years, Penn and other members of the organization had discussed creating a cookbook.  Then they pulled together their talents to make it happen.

The book includes vibrant photography by Paul Sargeant, the organization’s creative manager and assistant market manager, as well as design, writing and editing by Aimee Armstrong, Orange Home Grown board member.

The Orange Home Grown Community Cookbook is available for purchase online and at The Potting Shed, Palm Market and Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market, 303 West Palm Ave., held from 9 am to 1 pm every Saturday.

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Sargeant had seen other nonprofit organizations and farmers markets produce similar books, so it made sense for Orange Home Grown to create its own.  “This was our chance to put teamwork and effort into creating something timeless that we’d be really proud of,” he says.

Armstrong, whose day job is in design and digital marketing, used her talents for the book, writing a majority of the content, except the recipes.  She was pregnant during the making of the book and gave birth the day the book officially released at the August 2022 Farmer’s Market-To-Table Dinner Fundraiser.

“We joke that I literally gave birth to two things at the same time,” Armstrong says.  “Life is wild.”

Penn said the book’s creators gathered once every two months for a cooking and photoshoot day at her house after gathering ingredients at the farmers market.  Sargeant set up lighting and photography for the finished dishes, and board members brought over semi-finished recipes to shoot.

The book has cool- and warm-season recipes, as well as “the basics,” which include sauces, dips, dressings and beverages.  There are recipes by Orange Home Grown foundation board members, as well as local restauranteurs.

Penn’s favorite entry?  A roasted delicata squash recipe, combining goat cheese sourced from Drake Family Farms in Ontario, Terrace Hill Olive Oil, as well as other locally sourced ingredients.

The book also features short stories, including highlights on farmers and food artisans who participate in the farmers market, programs that Orange Home Grown offers and agricultural history in Orange.

"The book was created with the regular farmer’s market goer and backyard gardener in mind,” Penn says.  “The recipes are seasonal, simple and relatable.”

The authors say the book has been well-received by the community, with some even snapping photos of their attempts at recipes and sharing on social media.

“Overall, it was an amazing opportunity that we could not have had or completed without the three of us involved,” Armstrong says.  “I feel extremely grateful for life aligning the way it has and for this to have been brought to the community.”

Orange Home Grown plans to create a second cookbook in the next year or two.

Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market
303 West Palm Ave., Orange, CA 92866
Every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm

Article Published in the
Mar / Apr 24 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Melissa Pinion Whitt Photo provided by Orange Home Grown
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