Garden-Fresh Recipes to Pick and Make with Kids, from Sylvia’s Table

Getting kids into the kitchen to learn about food and cooking is one of the best ways to teach young people that little tiny essential life skill, being able to feed yourself well. Giving kids first-hand experience in the gardens and farms where their foods are grown is just as important, and just as much fun. That’s the bright idea that guides the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, NY. The Sylvia Center program brings kids from the New York City area to a working farm, where they get their first experience in picking and making a meal from fresh produce (you’ll want to watch this great video about the Sylvia Center’s work, if for no other reason than to watch the kids blissfully petting the Katchkie Farm chickens at about 4:11). Sylvia Center founder Liz Neumark spoke with us on the eve of the publication of her new cookbook, Sylvia’s Table, and shared her ideas for bringing some of the Katchkie Farm spirit home, including what to plant in a family garden that kids and grown-ups can work on together. Neumark also shared four delicious recipes from the book that are perfect to pick-and-make right now, with the help of your favorite young person. Hit the farmer’s market or the garden this weekend with your junior sous chef to pick some of the tomatoes, herbs, and zucchini that are in such abundance, and make a summer meal together. Epicurious: What are some of the things kids learn from spending time at the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm? What are the highlights of a typical visit? Liz Neumark: Coming to the farm is often the first time most of our kids have actually been on a real working farm, and that creates a memorable moment in and of itself. Everything we show them and do together afterwards is a part of this wow-experience. And that is what we want; to create an experience that will resonate with them so they remember the tastes, the smells, the landscape and of course, the skills. That is just the beginning. They walk through along the farm road, sometimes catching a glimpse of Farmer Bob and the farm crew working hard in the fields, and arrive at the specially designated and developed Children’s Garden; laid out to accommodate their wayward feet, small hands and giant curiosity. The garden has over 200 different varieties of vegetables, fruits, edible flowers, and herbs. They are exposed to different looking foods: melons with red and yellow stripes on the outside, spicy and sweet flowers to taste, unusual beans from a pod, multi-colored corn. They learn that food comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and that food fresh from a garden, and in season, tastes the best. After visiting the garden and harvesting crops for preparing their meal, they learn that vegetables can be used to make so many delicious things! The children participate in and learn about every step of the story of food from…

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