What a special joy several of you have given me this week.

I learned, quite by accident, about four years ago that growing gardenias was something easy — but very rewarding — to do. I brought a gardenia from the Rio Grande Valley when we moved back here after fourteen years there. When it began to bloom, I cut the flowers and brought them inside as the most pleasant room fragrance available.

At first, I just tossed the wilted blooms into a compost pile. One time, I left one in the vase and it began to sprout roots. Well, that was the beginning for me of a positive addiction. I have grown and given away at least 50 gardenia plants. What a special thing when several of you have told me your plant is blooming and some of you have even sent photos of the lovely white flower.

Of course, this is a lead-in to sharing plants of all kinds. A few months before our dear friend Max Statman lost his battle to leukemia, he gave me four garlic pods still attached to the stems. The following spring, what a surprise to find 8 to 10 plants growing. This week, I have harvested about 50 to 60 pods of wonderful garlic. What a great way to remember those who have had a significant part in our lives as our paths crossed.

Dr. Clark Dingler, Jr., whom I knew through his grandchildren, my wonderful choir students Katie Barkley Loomis and Andrew Barkley, was said to have told his patients something with which I totally agree: The dirt under one’s fingernails from gardening was better than any medicine he could prescribe for a person’s health and welfare.

I love to share my plants, but I also enjoy being on the receiving end. Last week, my energetic little friend Liz Lockhart gave me a big bag of delicious plums from her tree. She also gave me her plum pie recipe. It is tart and delicious.

Liz’s plum pie

1 unbaked pie crust (I used my easy pie crust)

4 cups fresh plums, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar (I used only 3/4 cup because the plums were sweet)

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour lemon juice over plums.

Mix sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon, and mix with plums. Toss gently. Pour into pie shell.

Topping:

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar, but either white or brown is good)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick butter, softened

Mix topping ingredients and crumble on top of pie. Bake at 375 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Check at 50 minutes.

When your vegetables start “coming in” in the garden, and you know they all do this at the same time, be sure to share with your neighbors. You never know what they might grow next year to share with you.

One of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is simply to roast them in the oven or grill them on a pit of some sort.

Roasted Vegetables2 (or more) tablespoons olive oil

1 large carrot cut into small chunks

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced

1 tablespoon sliced jalapenos

1 medium green or any color bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

Any other vegetables you have on hand.

Place in roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Roast at 425 degrees, uncovered for about 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 375 degrees until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal’s Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.