While we’re dreaming of our vegetable gardens for next year, why not plan for something that the whole family can actively be involved in? In a book that’s a bit older than those I’ve talked about recently, DK Publishing (a British publisher but all the projects shown to translate to this side of “the pond”) has put out Grow It, Cook It: Simple Growing Projects and Delicious Recipes by DK Publishing (2008) to appeal to families who want easy projects that they can take from seed to table with their children.
The book will take the younger gardener/cook through the steps of growing vegetables, fruit and sunflowers and then turning them into side dishes, main dishes and desserts.
Since evidence shows that kids are more likely to eat food they have prepared themselves, this is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into childrens’ diets.
And because the “Grow It” portion—or at least some of the preparation for it—is so simple—it’s appropriate for younger children as well so the book could be a great way to get the whole family involved.
DK is all about sustainability and recycling. Wherever possible, they suggest using old, washed out containers to start seeds, fun painted popsicle sticks as plant markers, pizza box bottoms and soda bottle bottoms to decorate for garden ornaments. Even clothes baskets, garbage cans and plastic tubs (with drainage holes carefully drilled by the parents of course) can be recycled into planters.
After 2 page chapters on how seeds grow, how to make compost and the magic of leaf mold [sp], it’s on to the cooking. There are 2 pages of basic kitchen know how, then the recipes begins with a tomato/eggplant tower. There is a 2 page layout on how to grow and harvest each vegetable, then two pages for the recipe: one page of actual instructions and a full-page picture of the finished dish.
The rest of the book follows the same format, with the last 2 pages providing 20 extra recipes for everything from lemon sorbet to tomato sauce to baked potato mice.
If I had any critique at all, it’s that some of the recipes assume a bit more knowledge than the average youngster might have. But since they should be closely supervised in the kitchen, this should not be a problem. Still, the adults should read the recipe closely before beginning to see what needs to be done. The tomato/eggplant tower requires roasted blanched almonds with no instruction on how to do that. Since they are just a garnish, however, it’s safe to say that you could skip that step—or skip the almonds entirely.
But that is a minor glitch in an otherwise beautiful, inventive book. It’s definitely a treat for the senses. I would recommend this book to anyone who gardens with children—or who likes simpler, easy to follow recipes.