Toast isn't something I usually associate with gardens, but at the Wild Flour Bakery in Sonoma, the two go hand in hand. For my husband, this bakery is a regular refueling stop along one of his lengthier bicycling routes. For me, it is a beautiful place to visit for a meal, some time in the sun and botanical inspiration.
Outside in the back garden, berries sparkle like sugarplums and sunflowers tower over my tall husband's head. Paths wind through mixed rows of corn, tomatoes, melons and beans. Children squeal with delight as they run through tunnels made of hops and raspberry canes. This is the kind of magical garden that not only grows good things to eat and is beautiful to look at, but also commands the attention of wiggly kids.
It follows the same principal as Berkeley's Edible Schoolyard at King Middle School, where I just finished editing and publishing some online lessons for the Edible Schoolyard Project: if you plant a garden, the children will come. If you let them play in it, they will learn.
Over the last 20 years the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley has built a successful program that teaches history, math, science, cooking and gardening to middle school students in kitchen and garden classrooms. Since that time it has expanded into the Edible Schoolyard Project, which shares resources and creates places for related dialogue - on their website, at their yearly conference and also at a lecture series they co-sponsor each fall.
Whether in school or at a bakery, gardens and food are two things that tend to get most children (and many adults) more excited about learning than sitting at a desk. They offer hands-on lessons with more room for investigation and physical movement than a traditional classroom, which can sometimes be exactly what young pupils need.
Inside the bakery, the scones are always delicious and the coffee is good. On the day we visited, whole grain loaves full of golden raisins and cardamom (called the Occidental) were fresh baked - not something one finds every day. The woman behind the counter suggested we try one, "it makes really great toast," she said. And she was right - it does.
Slices of the best bread you can find
Here's the secret to toast - the butter supplies fat, which enhances the flavor of the bread. Unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt on your toast- as much or as little as you'd like.
Put a slice in your toaster or toaster oven until it is just a little bit crunchy when you push down on the top, it is usually too late if the toast begins to brown - then the squishy bread inside is dry and not good. Spread some butter on top, make sure it melts, sprinkle on salt. Enjoy!