The choices we make as consumers can be powerful expressions of our wishes for peace and justice. One place in daily life where we can express our faith in beautiful forms is the kitchen table. Our food choices and our ways of preparing food can be nourishing expressions of our values. When we prepare meals with our children, they receive nurturing for both body and spirit. As you explore cooking with young people, I highly recommend Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook: Fun with food from garden to table, by Mark Beach and Julie Kauffman. This book would make an ideal gift to share with the children you love.
Planning meals, I confess, is not my favorite chore. Thankfully, when I enlist the help of my 8-year-old daughter, the task becomes much more fun. If she can choose a meal for us to make together once a week, I find my energy refreshed. My daughter was very excited to read Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook, and she declared, “The recipes all look interesting in their own way.” She loved the colorful photos and the fun facts (squash seeds found in Mexican archaeological digs!). We made immediate plans for pumpkin mini muffins and green monster soup. My daughter observed that the authors “give steps very well.” The recipes are written clearly and are easy to follow.
Part of preparing food with my daughter includes modeling gratitude for the food we are fortunate to have, and to think of ways to share with others. We greatly enjoyed the simple prayers and poems included in each seasonal section of the book.
I want to prepare healthy meals, and use locally grown produce whenever possible. I have learned from growing some of our own vegetables that the fresher the food, the more delicious. It feels right to eat foods at the time when nature produces them. (My significant exception is that I live in Pennsylvania, yet I’m very fond of mangoes and pineapple. I have to accept these, along with my olive oil and spices, as precious gifts from far away.) When my daughter saw a delicious-sounding peach recipe she asked, “Can we make this, when it’s the right season?” I felt proud that she has an understanding of where her food comes from, and the rhythms of nature that provide bounty for our table.
I know many people who are making a sincere effort to prepare whole foods for their families, moving away from prepackaged convenience foods and toward the nourishment, nutrition, and tastiness of natural foods. This way of eating is better for our local economies, can be more supportive of local farmers, has a lighter impact on the Earth due to lower consumption of fuels. If you have not visited a local farmer’s market recently, I encourage you to try it. There are winter markets in many cities and towns. You may be surprised at how many delicious foods are grown in your local area, and at the interesting conversations you can have with the people who grow your food.
Many children find it fun to see their food grow from seed (or young plant) to harvest time. If you are growing some of your own food, you will appreciate the seasonal garden tips. There is a simple discussion of growing herbs that would be suitable even for an apartment’s windowsill.
I highly recommend Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook for your kitchen library. Share copies with children you love, teachers, your public library. This book will help children learn how to prepare beautiful, nourishing meals while developing an understanding that food comes from the Earth that God has entrusted to our care.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received in exchange for this review.