Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kids Cook and All Vegetable Meal
Radish Salsa
Are kids intrigued with cooking when they are hands-on and accountable for how the garden grows? What makes a child want to take over in the kitchen?

Last night, a friend’s daughter proudly emailed that she had cooked an entire vegetarian meal for her grandparents. Though her mom did some of the chopping, as it got closer to serving time, dinner was on Anne Elise. 

AER, as we refer to her, is in fourth grade -- as is my daughter -- but they go to different magnet schools. Anne Elise’s school has a large community garden that the elementary students cultivate. Eleni’s school has a different focus and, therefore, no garden.

Field Peas with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

While my daughter likes to help with dinner and bakes from my Small-Batch Baking books all by herself, I’ve yet to see Eleni give me the grocery list for a meal she cooks solo. 

She goes with me to farmers markets and the grocery store to purchase dinner components, but I am still the beginning and ending of her food wheel. I buy it, I plan it, I cook it. Even though she helps me put tomato plants and herbs in the ground and water them occasionally, I am the one tending the harvest and accountable for her food.

There is a hands-on, pick-it yourself element to growing your own that I believe gives kids the desire and confidence to work with their food.  They planted it, they nourished it, they reaped it, and they need to see it through to the plate.

It’s early enough this year for me to get with the program. We don’t have the garden space at home for a big variety of vegetables and fruits, but we have plans to work on a farm during the summer.  One-third of the land around Asheville is farmland. I have plenty of opportunity to teach Eleni about farm-to-table and encourage her to prepare her own fresh, healthy food.

Dickson Elementary gives out healthy vegetable recipes to children so they know how to cook the produce.  Along with the Radish Salsa appetizer and entrée of Peas with Kale and Sweet Potatoes, Anne Elise served her family a Butter Lettuce and Spinach Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado.  Go girl!

Radish Salsa
            Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 firm, ripe Haas avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
5 to 6 red radishes, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and sugar

Peel and dice avocado; toss with lime juice in a medium bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve with chips.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Field Peas with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
            Adapted from The Moosewood Collective
1 cup cubed, peeled sweet potato
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound kale, tough stems trimmed and finely chopped (2 to 2 1/2 packed cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked fresh or frozen field peas, green pigeon peas, of butter peas
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cider vinegar and hot sauce to taste, optional
Crumbled goat cheese and chopped toasted walnuts, optional

Bring about 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add sweet potato, and boil until just tender, about 6 minutes.  Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, sauté onion in oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add kale and saute until leaves are bright green but wilted, about 2 minutes.  Add reserved liquid, peas, and sweet potato to skillet; cover and steam until hot, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; season with salt, pepper, and vinegar and hot sauce, if using.  Serve sprinkled with goat cheese and walnuts if desired.  Makes 2 servings.

1 comment:

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