peeking into tina davis’s look and cook

The second I spotted this cookbook on the Laughing Elephant website a few years ago, I knew I had to have it.

I’m a sucker for vintage illustrations and culinary ephemera, and this wonderful collection of 50+ classic recipes is chock full of charming old cookbook clippings from the 1900’s to the 1960’s.

Aside from its obvious appeal to nostalgia buffs like me, it’s a great kid-friendly first cookbook containing almost every standard comfort food dish you can think of:  meat loaf, mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, gingerbread men, griddle cakes, waffles, biscuits, chocolate pudding, apple pie, and scalloped potatoes. And what about soup, you ask (please do)?

Well, the Soup Section begins with this adorable illo from The School Lunch (Postum Company, 1928),

and there are recipes for Split Pea, Vegetable, Cream of Tomato and Chicken Noodle Soup. Nothing you haven’t seen before, but we’re talking about all-time classics, remember? And if you’re a budding child chef, working in the kitchen with a grown-up, you’d probably want to make something familiar and satisfying.

I like how the book begins with illustrated tables of cooking tools, explains how to measure ingredients, and then offers some all-important safety tips. The book is very sturdy, spiral bound with thick grease-proof pages (lays flat), and will definitely stand up to repeated use. There’s even a diagram showing the proper way to set a table and blank pages for recording favorite recipes. Definitely makes a nice gift for young foodies and cookbook collectors of all ages.


Thought you might like to read Tina Davis’s lovely intro, “The Best Meal I Ever Ate”:

The best meal I ever ate is one I ate often. It was made by my mother for my school lunch. Most days, I had the same lunch as my classmates, but sometimes my mother would put a hot dog in my thermos, cover it with boiling water, and screw the cap on tight. She spread mustard on a hot dog bun, wrapped it in waxed paper, and put everything in my lunch box. At lunchtime, I opened the thermos, took out the amazingly hot hot dog, and put it on the bun. I was always the envy of everyone around me. Other times she made my sandwiches on pieces of frozen bread so that by the time I ate them, the bread had thawed and was very soft. But these sandwiches weren’t nearly as good or amazing as the hot dog.

 Doesn’t that make you just want to hug yourself and eat a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup — after you’ve eaten a hot dog or two or three?☺

LOOK AND COOK: A Cookbook for Children
by Tina Davis

published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004
Ages 8+, 160 pages
*All recipes kid tested; has received very positive customer reviews

Better get two, just in case ☺. . .

**Really like that big bowl and spoon, yes I do.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “peeking into tina davis’s look and cook

    1. Isn’t the hot dog idea great? I mostly bought my lunch at school, but would have loved to have brought hot dogs :).

      The book is a nice collectible, whether you ever cook from it or not. Many of the recipes are like ones I’ve been using for years.


  1. Hot dog in a thermos! I want this book, too. Somehow I missed it on my Laughing Elephant perusings. I have one vintage children’s cookbook, from the 20s, called The Jolly Children’s Cookbook or something.


    1. I don’t think Laughing Elephant sells it anymore, so if you were checking LE in the last two years, it probably wasn’t listed.


  2. Awww, this sounds wonderful! Are there illustrated directions for each step of the cooking process? (I know Rachael Ray has a similar “look and cook” book with that sort of premise.) Those kinds of pictures are helpful to kids, too, to have a visual guide as to what they’re supposed to be doing at each point in the recipe. But it sounds yummy, regardless.

    Doesn’t that make you just want to hug yourself and eat a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup

    Reminds me of one of my husband’s and my early dates. It was a chilly, rainy day, so we decided to scrap whatever plans we’d had, and just stay inside with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. 🙂

    The Best Meal I Ever Ate

    Do you ever watch the Food Network’s show The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It’s more highbrow, but it’s also fun, to see the best thing these vaunted chefs have eaten in a variety of categories (the best finger food, the best thing with cheese, the best dessert, the best sticky thing, etc). Wish it wasn’t on so late at night!


    1. No, the recipes themselves are not illustrated step by step. That’s a great idea for kids old enough to attempt things on their own. I imagine there must be some cookbooks like that, but I haven’t seen one yet.

      So — tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich was part of a romantic date? Interesting . . . .:)

      I haven’t seen that TV show — guess it’s on too late for me, too. Does sound like something I’d enjoy watching. Thanks for the heads up!


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