writes British poet Margaret Muttram (see her full Ode to Veggies below)
Mid-June is the perfect time to delight in the world of fresh vegetables through exploring Farmers’ Markets, creating tasty meals, sharing feasts together, and of course, reading books about Veggies!
We start with a terrific book for family projects:
At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands by Leslie Jonath, Ethel Brennan, and Sheri Giblin
Great information for kids–and adults!–on what kinds of vegetables are available at Farmers’ Markets, how to judge the ripeness of different vegetables and fruits, as well as tips on how to store each kind. Then there are the recipes: 65 nutritious ones, that look both healthful and like they would please kids. (We’ll be test-cooking and tasting soon!) Colorful and well-designed photos grace the book, so it’s a pleasure for all the senses.
And here are a few of our favorite picture books to conjure up your own vegetable appreciation celebration.
Farmers’ Market Day by Shanda Trent, illustrated by Jane Dippold
I can really identify with the main character of the book, as I remember the delight of Saturday outings with my family, with my own money to spend on a treat. She’s even a bit clumsy, like me. I also like the rhyming couplets and colorful energetic images. It’s a perfect early reader book, one that truly celebrates vegetables: “A forest—green with broccoli trees, / cucumbers, and pods of peas. / Bushels brim with fruit to eat: / Tomatoes, plums, and peaches—sweet.” A delightful child’s-eye view of Farmers’ Market.
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (and bilingual version of board book, too!)
Lois Ehlert’s bold bright pictures are the perfect complement to the bouquet of vivid colors of the veggies that summer gardens–and Farmers’ Markets bring to our plates (and soup bowls!) “Dad says we are going to grow vegetable soup” begins this garden to table tale, with tools and seeds, then gardening–and finally harvesting and chopping, and creating a fine soup, with recipe included. A summer time go-to at our house, and now we also love the bilingual board book version in Spanish as well as English.
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
This is for the gardener who delights in his or her “ugly vegetables,” not just the pretty flowers. A sweet story from Grace Lin about a Chinese Mom and her little girl who patiently tend their garden of vegetables that yields the ingredients for an aromatic and delicious soup. The neighborhood comes together in the fall with flowers and a meal to share. Illustrated with Grace Lin’s signature bright and appealing picture–and an added bonus of a pronunciation guide for Chinese pronunciation of vegetables and a recipe for tasty soup!
And here’s the full Margaret Muttram poem: