Schoolhouse Gardens Rock, a.k.a. How to Make Kids Love Eggplant

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The Wall Street Journal recently posted a story entitled "Vegetable Gardens Help Morale Grow," detailing the benefits of employee agricultural projects at several companies. If you don't believe the author's thesis--i.e. that growing stuff makes people happy--ask my 4-year-old, who recently brought home two Japanese eggplants from his pre-school garden.

"WE BROUGHT YOU EGGPLANTS!" He screamed, brandishing two shiny bulbs--one white and one purple--along with his empty lunchbox and a ream of crayon-scribblings.

For two days, he chattered about eggplant--the archetypal yuck food of my own childhood. He detailed the planting of the garden outside his classroom this spring, the subsequent monitoring over the summer and the ultimate harvest, during which he and a beloved teacher "sneaked outside to pick it."

On the afternoon before I actually cooked the eggplants for dinner, he took umbrage at something I said--something as baleful as "Sweetheart, it's time for a nap"--and he took aim at me with his greatest threat: "If you make me rest, I will not share my eggplants with you!" (Entry No. 1 in my journal of "Things I Never Expected My Children to Say.")

In the end, he rested, I cooked, and later we all dined on homegrown eggplant. Shaved into thin coins with the mandoline, sauteed with garlic in olive oil and sprinkled with fresh grated Parmesan, the simple preparation earned the highest praise: "Mommy, you are a genius. I love eggplant." (Entry No. 2 in my journal of "Things I Never Expected My Children to Say.")

With harvest in full swing, who else is reaping the rewards of gardens at school or work? Specifically, how are you preparing your homegrown eggplants?

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