You know the old saying, “Good things come in small packages?”
Check out The Little Big Cookbook for Moms (Welcome Books, 2012)! This chunky, 6-1/2″x 6-1/2″ charmer is chock full of good ideas for busy young moms wishing to make delicious, healthy meals for their kids with the least amount of fuss. In addition to 250 nutritious recipes (Breakfast, Soups and Sandwiches, Snacks and Small Bites, Dinners, Veggies and Sides, Desserts), there’s oodles of practical advice and dozens of cool vintage illustrations, making this a perfect baby shower or new mom gift.
The 20+ page introduction sets the stage for the delectable cooking adventures to come. There’s advice about general nutrition, choosing whole and organic foods, stocking the pantry, food safety and storage, herbs and spices, making homemade baby food, food allergies, and the Top 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Better.
The authors have included their own family favorites as well as kid-friendly classics (Broiled Salmon, Chicken with Garlic and Shallots, Vegetable Lasagna, Sloppy Joes, Southwestern Chicken Tacos, Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Fingers). As busy moms themselves, they appreciate one-pot meals and the accommodating slow cooker, and like to think in terms of making ahead and freezing on the weekends, as well as creatively using up leftovers. They know that a well-stocked pantry is a godsend for those days when they need to get something quick and nutritious on the table without giving it a second thought.
I was happy to see a lot of veggie recipes and an emphasis on trying to expose kids to a wider variety of foods. If they are given the opportunity to taste things like baba ganoush, vegetarian brown rice sushi, shrimp curry, quinoa with fennel and pine nuts, or Chinese greens with oyster sauce, they will grow up to become more adventurous eaters — even moreso if when old enough they are encouraged to help Mom in the kitchen.
What I don’t see too often in family cookbooks are good snack ideas. As Alice Wong points out in the Foreword, kids can eat a LOT, and parents can end up spending a lot of money on prepackaged chips and high sodium, high fat convenience foods. But with a little advance planning, smart moms can make their own granola, veggie and fruit yogurt dips, homemade pita and tortilla chips, potato crisps, mini frittatas, or popcorn munchies. Why not nibble on rice noodle salad, a mini pizza, or a mushroom tart after school or sporting events?
Part of the fun of family cooking is experimenting and discovering likes and dislikes. Most of the recipes contain sidebar tips and variations, great encouragement to make these recipes your own. They all begin with interesting headnotes. As far as desserts — did you think I’d forget to mention desserts? — they are mostly tried and true (Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Classic Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Brownies, Lemon Squares, Apple Crisp, Make Your Own Sundaes). Everyone needs a little decadent treat now and then. 🙂
Wong and Fried round out their offerings with menu planning tips, a table of equivalents, lunch bag stuffers, info on nuts, seeds, beans, fish, grilling, buying organic, preserving nutrients and special diets (gluten free, dairy free). Whew! This little book is big on content; it’s the sort of cookbook that has something to keep your family fed as your kids grow from infants to toddlers, from grade school to middle school and beyond.
The only problem? It does make a nice gift, but once you see it you’ll likely want one for yourself as a keepsake. I initially purchased this book because I was interested in the vintage illos. I had every intention of passing it on to a new mother. So far, it’s remained on my shelves for three years. Did I mention the mama pig feeding the piglet, or the mushroom heads in the vintage car, or the people with carrot and bean heads? Another slice of Strawberry Ice Cream Pie, if you please.
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SWEET POTATO FRIES
Quick, easy and nutritious is the name of the game. I’ve always loved sweet potatoes — they are “loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.” Made a batch of these in no time. They were inhaled with glee by Len, me, and the Alphabet Soup furry kitchen helpers. Yummers.
- 1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled and scrubbed, cut into 1/4-inch square sticks
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive or other vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread out the potatoes in a single layer.
3. Bake until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
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THE LITTLE BIG COOKBOOK FOR MOMS: 250 of the Best Family Recipes
edited by Alice Wong and Natasha Tabori Fried
published by Welcome Books, March 2012
Nonfiction, 352 pp.
♥ Peek inside the book at its webpage.
♥ Click here for my review of another book in this series, The Little Big Book of Comfort Food. Same small size, same chunky fun.
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.