Do you have a young daughter just beginning to discover the fun of cooking? And she hasn't yet shown a glimmer of interest in gardening? This is a perfect opportunity for demonstrating what a garden can do for a cook.
For who but a gardener can always be ready with such important cooking accessories as dill, shallots, tarragon, sorrel, parsley and chives called for in fancy recipes? How else, save by growing them herself, can she ever experiment in cooking the less ubiquitous vegetables such as celery cabbage, Savoy cabbage, zucchini, finocchio, kohlrabi or Blue Coco beans? How often must the cook without a garden leave out an important vegetable seasoning ingredient because it isn't on hand? An unfrustrated cook ahnost has to have a garden at her command.
Of course, children seldom like exotic food. However, vegetable dishes may be made more interesting without being
in the least exotic. Track down one really epicurean way to prepare at least one vegetable. This doesn't necessarily mean just for the vegetable course; it may be a vegetable and meat combination, soup, salad, appetizer, or even dessert. Make this dish a "specialty of the house" for the young cook. Then she will have an impelling reason for growing that particular vegetable and the necessary accessory vegetables and herbs.
What particular concoctions would appeal to your particular apprentice-cook, only you and she can decide. It might be green rice, or green mayonnaise, a quavery tomato aspic, or a golden carrot cucumber ring. It might be mint sherbet, a carrot pudding, pumpkin cookies, or yellow tomato preserves, or a hundred other things infrequently on your own menus.
A few of the miniature vegetables would be a good garden specialty for the young cook, with luncheon parties for her small friends as a goal. The service would be charmingly scaled to juvenile size if it included ears of midget sweet corn, and a salad plate of dwarf tomato and dwarf cucumber slices arranged on a bed of the diminutive crinkled leaves of Tom Thumb lettuce. (Any little girl would call this little head lettuce "simply adorable.") For dessert the choice could be midget watermelon or midget cantaloupe.
Raw vegetables are relished by many children, and what young cook wouldn't take pleasure in arranging, for family or company parties, an appetizer tray of tender young dunking vegetables that she herself has grown? Gourmets use almost every conceivable young and succulent vegetable for the dunking tray; baby carrots and beets, tiny cucumbers, immature green beans, very young sugar peas (pods and all), strips of zucchini, celery root, turnips and kohlrabi, small florets of broccoli and cauliflower, tiny thick inside leaves of Bibb lettuce, radishes, scallions, cherry tomatoes. The only way to come by these vegetables in their delectably young stage is straight out of the garden.