Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our Favorite Kid's Cookbooks

When we take our kids into the kitchen with us, we are not only helping them learn an important life skill, but we're letting them learn about math and science (in a way far more interesting than any textbook could provide) and how to follow written directions. Kids who cook also recieve a confidence and self esteem boost, and are more likely to eat well. (Children always seem more interested in eating what they've grown or helped cook.) Kitchen time is also great family time - a way to create many happy memories.

So with these things in mind, I thought it would be interesting to learn what children's cookbooks the ladies here at Christian Children's Book Review would hate to be without.

Beverly tells me her favorite kid's cookbook was created by The Hole in the Wall Camp (established by Paul Newman and A.E.Hotchner, for children with cancer and other terminal diseases). The Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook (Simon & Schuster, 1998; ISBN 0684848430; hardcover, $14.00) contains over seventy recipes for children to cook with their parents. "One of the things I like best about this cookbook is that the recipes are generally nutritious and fun to make as well," Beverly says. "Interspersed with the recipes are pictures and letters from the camp. This cookbook appropriate for school-age children, and the contributors are Paul Newman’s family and friends and winners of his annual recipe contest. The great thing is that all proceeds from this cookbook go to The Hole in the Wall Gang fund. Make sure you try the Lemonade Chicken Wings!"

Erin has wouldn't want to be without Betty Crocker Kids Cook!
(Wiley Publishing, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-471-75309-4, spiral bound hardcover, $19.99), filled with, as she says, " yummy, simple recipes you would actually want to serve for dinner and kids would actually eat." She adds, "Children will feel a sense of accomplishment as they read a recipe, follow directions, and put dinner (or at least part of it) on the table. The recipes are easy enough for upper elementary-age children to make with minimal assistance, and they taste delicious." The cookbook begins with Kitchen ABCs (safety rules and measurement tips), a glossary of terms, and a food pyramid. The rest of the cookbook is divided into breakfast, lunch, drinks, sides, dinner and dessert sections. Erin says her family favorites are "Trees with Cheese" (broccoli with cheese sauce), "Fantastic Dip'n Fruit," and the "Chicken Pot Pie." "Also, the 'Chocolate Chip Cookies' always turn out'"

Erin also says, "If you are looking for a fun addition to your social studies curriculum, a way to celebrate missions night at church, or you need something to do on a gloomy Saturday, the Usborne Internet-linked Children's World Cookbook (Usborne Publishing Ltd., 2000; ISBN: 07945-0098-6; paperback, $13.99) is for you! This cookbook includes recipes from around the globe, as well as sections on fruit, vegetables and bread found in various countries. Pages include photographs of the finished food product, as well as a scene from the country represented. The recipes are presented in steps, and each step is illustrated. Background on the food and terminology are given, as well as notes about landscape, customs, or animals common to the country. This cookbook provides a fun introduction to foods around the world, and you may find children more willing to sample items such as hummus, paella and fried rice if they have had a hand in preparing them" She does note, however, that some recipes are complicated and will require adult assistance.

Tanya writes: "C
is for Cooking (Wiley, 2009; ISBN: 0470523077; spiral-bound hardback; $17.95), written by dietitian Susan McQuillian, is definitely my kids' favorite cookbook. They love reading it even when we're not cooking! They love all the bright, colorful pictures of their favorite Sesame Street characters. I love the kid-friendly features sprinkled throughout. These include counting activities (special illustrations featuring The Count with ingredients such as eggs or slices of cheese); alphabet and phonic reinforcement (how many words can you find that start with the letter 'B'?); fun food facts (why do bananas turn brown when mashed?); helpful cooking tips and silly jokes. Recipe steps are marked for age-appropriateness (targeting preschoolers). Safety prevails as a high priority. The book offers a wide variety of recipes, all pretty easy to make. The new 40th Anniversary edition also includes recipes from show guests like Rachael Ray."

Tanya also seconds Erin's pick of Betty Crocker: Kids Cook!, saying it has a simple and inviting format and that the recipes are delicious. She notes this cookbook targets a slightly older audience than the Sesame Street cookbook, about ages 6 - 10. "My kids enjoy the illustrations, a combination of hard-lined cartoons with photographs of the featured recipe."

Tanya also recommends Paula Deen's My First Cookbook (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2008; ISBN 1416950338; sprial bound hardback; $21.99) by celebrity chef Paula Deen. This book, Tanya says, "goes beyond just cooking to actual training. In it she teaches about basic cooking terms and techniques, but also about proper place settings, table manners, and kitchen crafts. The recipes also take the extra step. Standards are included, but so are less common recipes for healthy snacks and fun meals like Stone Soup - complete with the story! One chapter focuses on seasonal and holiday recipes. Simple illustrations by Susan Mitchell highlight each ingredient and accent the recipes and stories throughout."

Robin says she and her kids like the Better Homes and Gardens
New Junior Cook Book (Wiley, 2004, ISBN: 978-0696220005, spiral bound hardback, $16.95) by Jennifer Darling. She writes, "I still have my 1979 version of this book and we love the recipe for Personal Pizzas...The 2004 version contains entertaining illustrations, has a color photograph of each recipe, and it’s spiral-bound so it lies flat on the counter during use. The foods are what kids want to eat and not necessarily healthy. It’s basic fare." The book includes tips on kitchen safety, setting a table, reading food labels, eating healthy, and using basic cooking equipment. Robin says, "The recipes are straight-forward for older children who might want to cook on their own, but they’re simple enough for a Mom and two small children. Just like my adult BHG cookbook is a trusted source, this junior version could be too - the recipes work."

As for me, the only children's cookbook I've tried with my four year old is Simply in Season Children's Cookbook (Herald Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0836193367, spiral bound hardback, $24.99) and both my daughter and I love it. The book is uniquely divided into seasons, starting with spring. With a clean, crisp layout and lots of color photographs, a few pages in each section are devoted to produce that's in season, including information on how it grows, how to select it for eating, and what other foods it goes well with. Super simple, healthy recipes follow (ideal for preschoolers or kids without much experience in the kitchen). Some favorites are "Peas Please" (peas mixed with a little bit of oil, ginger, and o.j.), Strawberry Dream Cream (home made ice cream that doesn't require an ice cream maker), veggie kebobs, and pumpkin muffins.

What children's cookbooks do you and your kids love to use?

Bookmark and Share


Kristina said...

Tanya, on your recommendation, I bought "C is for Cooking." My daughter doesn't watch Sesame Street, but she loves the look of the characters. What an excellent first cookbook this is!

Tanya said...

Kristina: I'm glad my review was helpful, and that you're enjoying the book!!