Garden-to-Table Cooking for Kids

Summer in Chicago is in full swing. All that summer sun and warmth is just what gardens need for a bountiful harvest. Tomatoes, greens and beans galore and so much more! What can you do with all the freshness from summer gardens? Oh, and don’t forget about the fall growing season with the return of cool weather crops like lettuces, squashes and melons.

Whether you have your own garden or are visiting one of the many Chicago City Markets, here are some books about getting creative in the kitchen with fresh ingredients to bring the garden to the table.

In Tomatoes for Neela, Neela and her mother go on a special trip to the market so they can make one of their favorite recipes together - Paati’s fresh tomato sauce. This book has trips to the farmers market, lots of food inspiration and shares the importance of food and family.

Inspired by a community kitchen in Brooklyn, Our Little Kitchen features neighbors who work together to make a delicious meal for their community. Using resourceful ingredients, like fresh produce from their community garden and donations, this book shows that you can always cook using what you have on hand.

Do you ever think about all the different things people make in their kitchens? What's Cooking at 10 Garden Street? visits over a dozen kitchens in a city apartment building. Each kitchen features a unique recipe that uses fresh ingredients like those from a garden or market. At the end of the book, all the neighbors get together and share their tasty creations in an epic backyard picnic.

Rooftop Garden brings rhyme and rhythm along all the steps it takes to go from seed to table in a city garden with gardening tips and plant facts along the way. This book is a great way to learn about plants and all the work that goes into growing different foods as a community. If you have your own garden, this fun read is sure to give you fresh ideas.

Speaking of rhythm, why not bring a little music into the kitchen? After a visit to their favorite jazz club, Auntie Nina and her nephew cook a meal using fresh market ingredients while listening to some of their favorite jazz musicians. Music and cooking are great companions and maybe you will want to turn your kitchen into a rhythm kitchen like Auntie Nina’s in the book Jazz for Lunch.

Cooking With Bear offers a different view of garden-to-table cooking with recipes that use ingredients that can be found outside in the forest. After a long hibernation, bear wakes up to check on his friends and gather fresh ingredients along the way to use in a spring feast. Did you know food could be found outside by foraging, even in cities like Chicago?

How have you explored garden-to-table cooking this summer? Share your garden, market and kitchen stories and even your favorite books below.