Dill pickles, usually a childhood favorite, are easy enough for a small cook to make, and the best of reasons for an easy-to-
grow patch of dill and a vine or two of pickling cucumbers. Recipes for both processed and open crock dill pickles are in all general cookbooks, but you will find that nothing produces quite as good a pickle as the old-fashioned open crock method. This is simple enough for a child to handle, and has the added advantage of sampling accessibility.
Most surely calculated to interest a little girl are the party touches that vegetables and flowers can impart to the serving of a meal.
Savoy cabbage, hollowed out, makes a stunning sculptured bowl of crinkled green to hold coleslaw. Red cabbage leaves can be arranged as a colorful container for potato salad. An edible wreath of nasturtium blooms can encircle a molded salad. Garlands of flowers around the base of a frosted cake fit it for an extra-gala occasion. Nosegays of edible flowers-violets, roses, calendulas-can be frozen in a molded block of ice to float in a party punch bowl. Single blossoms, or sprigs of mint, frozen in individual ice cubes will dress up a pitcher of lemonade.
All sorts of frivolous garnishing knickknacks, such as radish roses, carrot and celery curls, and butter balls rolled in minced parsley or chives, are natural accomplishments for the gardening cook.
Out of the flower garden can come any number of other materials to work into the culinary routine. Some of them may seem to belong in the humming-bird-wing category to you, but children and gourmets love them.
Ambrosial trifles like candied mint leaves and candied rose petals are not difficult. Even an ethereal sounding creation like rose petal jam is surprisingly simple to make. Enough fragrant rose petals, dried immediately after gathering, are accumulated to make a pound of dried petals. These are
scalded in boiling water for a minute, then drained and dried. Then a syrup is made of a cup of water and two cups of sugar boiled together for two or three minutes. The scalded petals are added to the syrup, along with a tablespoon of orange flower water and a few drops of red food coloring, and the mixture is cooked slowly until thickened, as with any marmalade.
Other floral culinary whimsies for the young cook with a garden to try out are tossing the blossoms of nasturtiums in a green salad, or pickling the green nasturtium seeds. A rose geranium leaf in the bottom of a glass of sparkling red jelly is a charming conceit. Poppyseed cookies can be decorated with seeds shaken straight out of a Shirley poppy seedpod shaker.
All of these things are delights that call for a bit of a garden. So, if it's a cook you have, maybe you can have a gardener, too.