"Cooking remains one of the few essential household activities that adults and children, or older and younger children can share in modern urban life." ~Barbara Walker (The Little House Cookbook)
Some of my fondest childhood memories center around baking with my cousins, Patti and Cindy. (I don’t have any sisters, and my mom wasn’t into baking.) I even wrote a story about our famous sponge cake, which was so hard and rubbery it bounced off the counter. But we had so much fun, and through that experience, I learned about the incredible power of eggs!
Now that winter has knocked on the door, you might be looking for a creative and educational indoor activity to keep the munchkins occupied. Cook, I say, cook! The process is its own reward, but in the end, there’s something good to eat! In this age of pre-packaged, microwave ready and take-out food, it’s wise to practice what Barbara Walker calls an "essential household activity."
Here are some cookbooks for kids published just this year, and one all-time classic. Great gifts that keep on giving.
1. My A to Z Recipe Box: An Alphabet of Recipes for Kids, by Hilary Karmilowicz , illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Chronicle Books, 2007), ages 5 and up.
These are cards, not a book, but I am totally enamoured by the "A to Z" part. And I couldn’t resist recipes like "Ants in My Applesauce," and "Zany Zucchini Sticks." This box is wonderful incentive for kids to continue collecting recipes, since it comes with extra cards. I’ve given this for several birthday gifts already, with good feedback.
2. Spatulatta Cookbook, by Isabelle and Olivia Gerasole (Scholastic, 2007), ages 8 and up.
Have you visited Isabelle (11) and Olivia (8), at their fabulous website, spatulatta.com? These young chefs are fabulous hosts, offering recipe videos by kids for kids, cooking tips, craft ideas, and lots more. Just this fall, 50 of their recipes were compiled into a spiral-bound cookbook, just in time for holiday gift giving. Head on over there and order an autographed copy today!
3. Fun in the Kitchen: By Kids for Kids Easy to Make Recipes (Green Tiger Press, 2007), ages 8 and up.
I’ve been a fan of Green Tiger Press since the 70’s, when I used to look forward to their wonderful mail order catalog of stationery and calendars, etc. featuring wonderful children’s book illustrators, past and present. Today Green Tiger is a children’s book imprint, affiliated with Laughing Elephant (which I mentioned here), a company based in Seattle, which has expanded its line to include adult gift books, luggage labels, and a wide variety of greeting cards. This year they have reprinted over a hundred recipes which originally appeared in the Children’s Activity Magazine of the 1950’s, with new illustrations by Sonia Roetter. The recipes have been tested and look very doable.
For the American Girl fans on your gift list, here are four cookbooks containing 20 easy-to-follow recipes, packaged with a cookie cutter, 20 table talk tokens, and 10 reusable place cards. Felicity shares colonial recipes, while Molly features recipes from the 1940’s, Samantha from the turn-of-the-century, and Kit, from the Depression era. Each book also contains a chapter on throwing a themed party.
5. Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Pre-Schoolers & Up, by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson (Tricycle Press, 1994), ages 4 and up.
This is THE classic kids’ cookbook, still popular and in-print after 14 years. You may know Mollie Katzen from her Moosewood cookbooks, featuring recipes served in the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to cook, just by reading the recipes and seeing the pictures. And if your kids don’t like it, keep it for yourself!!