At Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York, one of our favorite ways to get people excited about healthy, fresh food is to cook together. On Food Day 2013, October 24, about 20 children and their caregivers arrived at Stone Barns to get their hands dirty in the garden, cook together and enjoy good food. This particular group was part of our Little Cooks and Gardeners series—classes specifically tailored to 3-5 year olds and their caregivers.
Helping to develop food and kitchen familiarity at such a young age is an important part of fostering lifelong healthy food behaviors. In early childhood, kids can be very open to new tastes, especially if they are involved in growing and preparing the food. Each Little Cooks and Gardeners class gives children a chance to be both a farmer and a chef. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be active learners right along with the kids. Our hope is that the adults will take home the ideas and confidence to make cooking a fun activity for the family, engage children in the process, and encourage healthy and adventurous food choices at home.
On this particular Thursday, our little cooks and gardeners headed out to Stone Barns Center’s Dooryard Garden—a space that acts as a microcosm of our farm, where smelling and tasting is strongly encouraged. We harvested rosemary and other herbs that we found in the garden and brought them back into the kitchen. The children then ground grain and pitched in to create their own individual flatbreads. While the bread was baking, they learned how to make fresh homemade butter by taking turns shaking jars full of fresh cream. When the bread was ready, the little cooks proudly spread each piece with butter and topped it with the fresh herbs they had picked. This recipe was a hit! Each little one felt such pride when they bit into their creations.
Our mission at Stone Barns Center is to change the way America eats and farms. We encourage people of all ages to become active food citizens. We believe the more curiosity children have about food, and the more parents are encouraged to incorporate healthy and delicious food in their homes, the better. Starting early creates lifelong connections and habits. After all, today’s Little Cooks and Gardeners are tomorrow’s grocery store and farmers market shoppers.
To learn more about Stone Barns Center’s mission to create a healthy food system that benefits us all and to see a full list of our Little Cooks and Gardeners classes, please visit stonebarnscenter.org.
Here’s a favorite recipe from the series:
- 1⁄2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp chopped rosemary + additional sprigs
- 1⁄4 tsp baking powder
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbs water
- 1 1⁄2 Tbs olive oil + more for brushing
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Stir together flour, rosemary, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center, then add water and oil and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough ball forms.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
- Roll dough into a disk and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
- Lightly brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Top with rosemary sprigs and press to adhere.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Source: Gourmet Magazine
Jennifer Rothman is the Programs Director at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY where she oversees programs for school groups, teachers, and the general public.