This spring, an idea rooted in the past sprouts again in backyards like Kathy Pelczarski’s, where she’ll tend tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and more. Call it a modern-day victory garden, 100 years after World War I.

“In celebrating victory gardens now, what we want to do is commemorate our ancestors’ patriotism and resourcefulness in serving their country,” she explained. “But they’re also very important because they bring our communities together.”

First called war gardens, “they supported the war effort by ensuring an adequate food supply for civilians and troops,” added the Penn State Master Gardener, whose group partnered with the Delco World War One Centennial Committee “to spur this effort here in Delaware County.”

The project dovetails nicely with today’s farm-to-table movement, taking local to the next level.

“I’m hoping for a good return this year,” said chef Michael Falcone of Heart Food Truck, who harvests his own veggies. “I’ll use things from the garden in the truck, mainly tomatoes and hot peppers because that’s what grows in abundance.”

He buys plants from the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market, also home to his food truck, and gives credit where credit’s due.

“My wife has the green thumb, to be honest,” Falcone admitted.

Try his recipe for pappardelle and garden tomatoes or take a page from the 1918 “War Cook Book” and prepare a victory salad. No doubt it’ll taste even better straight from the backyard.

“What I want them to remember is the joy that can be derived from gardening…,” Pelczarski said, “the benefits you can get out of being able to eat what you’ve grown and share it with others.”

Pappardelle and Garden Tomatoes

Ingredients1 pound pappardelle pasta

¼ cup olive oil2 garlic cloves36 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

12 chives, chopped small4 basil leaves, julienned (rolled and sliced)

InstructionsCook pasta. Heat garlic in oil till light golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook till just soft but still retain their shape. Add chives and basil and cook 1 minute more. Remove garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta, toss and serve with Parmesan or feta if desired.


Victory SaladMarinate with French Dressing (see below), either together or separately, 1 cup each cooked carrots, cooked potato cubes, cold cooked peas and cold cooked beans. Arrange on lettuce leaves in four sections and cover each section with mayonnaise or cooked dressing (see below). Garnish as desired with chopped whites of “hard-cooked” eggs, yolks forced through strainer, sliced pickle, chopped olives, parsley, celery or capers.


French DressingIngredients2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice

4 tablespoons oil½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon paprikaInstructionsAdd seasonings to the oil, then beat in the vinegar or lemon juice, adding it a little at a time. French dressing may be made in quantities by placing the ingredients in a bottle and shaking well. Although the dressing separates in standing, it may be combined again by shaking thoroughly each time just before serving.


Cooked DressingIngredients2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon fat½ cup water½ cup vinegar

½ tablespoon sugar or syrup1 whole egg or 2 yolks

1 teaspoon saltMustardPaprikaInstructions

Melt the fat and stir in the flour. Add water slowly, stirring constantly. Cook directly over fire until it thickens. Then add vinegar and cook quickly until very thick. Remove from fire and add beaten egg. The fat may be omitted, especially if the two egg yolks are used, since two egg yolks contain 4 to 5 tablespoons of fat. This dressing is especially good for meats or vegetables. It will keep indefinitely. When used, thicken with sweet or sour cream or beaten egg whites. This will make ¾ pint.


Caprese SaladIngredients1 fresh tomato

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheeseBasil leaves

Olive oilBalsamic vinegarSalt and pepper to taste

InstructionsSlice tomatoes in ¼-inch thick slices. Do the same for the mozzarella. Alternate layers between the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. First, a tomato slice, then a mozzarella slice, then a few leaves of basil; begin and end with tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or your favorite Italian dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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