My Kitchen Garden Companion - Kids Most Welcome

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

So nice when little dreams come true. I have coveted Australian chef Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion for a millenia, and somehow it never made it onto my shelves (one day...). Then when her new Kitchen Garden Companion came out last year, I changed tack and pined for that instead.

Then when my best girl Mary Rose started referring to this book in some of her mouthwatering foodie emails to me, I knew I just had to have it. When my other best girl, Jenn, gave me a generous gift voucher to The Essential Ingredient, the book purchase was in the bag. Literally. I toted this luscious great tome yesterday, complete with stunning, fabric-wrapped front cover and pages to dive in and drool over.

Having whinged to my daughter Ella for another millenia over being unable to find a gardening book that did more than just tell me about the genus of a plant (particularly an edible plant) - and instead provide information on how to not only deal with pests and problems but how to actually grow, harvest and re-nurture plants, I was both stunned and delighted to realise Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion does just that. But more. It also then tells you how to cook it all. Joy!

Running through the alphabet, KGC features almost every edible herb, vegetable and fruit you can imagine - and then provides a collection of stunning recipes to make your own homegrown produce into mouthwatering fare. It also has chapters on planting and kitchen and garden equipment.

BUT WAIT - there's more... and this is the part that both surprised and delighted me the most. In fact, I can't even express how much I love this, so I'll just rely on you to imagine.

The book features sections for kids. Not only does it have opening chapters for children on both gardening and cooking, it also features a header 'Especially for Kids' under every single ingredient entry, from Amaranth to Zucchini. In that special section, you'll find suggestions, inspiration and ideas to hook your kids into the cooking nook.

Under Amaranth, for example, Stephanie explains how, in Mexico, amaranth tassles are laid on tarpaulin and covered with a sheet before being danced open to set the plant's grains free. She then suggests something practical to enjoy - in this case, the fact that amaranth seeds can be popped like popcorn and scattered over muesli or folded through muffin batter.

Under Zucchini, we learn (as experienced in our own garden!) that these delicious vegetables grow lightning-fast (and taste, like, a million times better when you grow them yourself) - which will fascinate children who like to harvest vegetables frequently. She then suggests eye-boggling your children by telling them they can eat the zucchini flowers, and offers a recipe for just that.

This is genius! I love it so much, I have a secret desire to go through every single suggestion with my kids - that's right - from Amaranth to Zucchini... Watch this space in case I find the time to do it! I so want to take my kids right through this stunning kitchen garden friend.

Love you, Stephanie. Head to Stephanie's glorious website for more more more.


Emily said...

Hi Tania, you're a girl after my own heart. Stephanie is my cooking idol (as is Maggie Beer). The Cook's Companion has been my bible for years and I'm always learning new things from it! Sounds like the Kitchen Garden Companion is just as brilliant! Enjoy!!!

Oh...Love love LOVE Essential Ingredient. Best foodie store in Canberra.

Cheers Em

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh i just have to get that now, it was glaring at me when i bought The Silver Spoon in DJs, it looks great. Love Posie

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