Kid-Friendly Cookbooks – Just In Time for the Holiday Kitchen Rush

I know, I know. I came on the “Letter Blocks” scene two weeks ago, advertising my weekly post. But where was I last Thursday? Nowhere to be seen! Truth be told, I was buried under pots and pans, chopping cilantro, squeezing lemons, and kneading homemade bread dough for a 35-person Thanksgiving pot-luck feast. Needless to say, the three golden-brown loaves of Sourdough were the hit of the party. And the shredded Brussels sprouts and fennel salad? Delish!

So where did my fondness for cooking begin? Easy answer. When I was a kid. One of my favorite pastimes was sitting on the stool behind the bar in the kitchen, helping my mom make chocolate chip cookies or watching her while she diced garlic for her famous eggplant Parmesan. Thanks to my mom (and my great-grandmother before her), I am now fairly crafty in the kitchen and have a full array of well-seasoned recipes in my back pocket. Of course, I still flub the occasional coconut curry soup or over-sweeten a blueberry pie, but because I started learning to cook at an early age, I’m never afraid to try preparing new dishes and don’t sweat the small stuff when something doesn’t turn out as planned.

In the spirit of spending even more time in the kitchen over this holiday season — and hopefully teaching a little one to appreciate the joys of cooking — I thought I’d dedicate this post to cookbooks. While going online for recipes is always a cinch or using a cookbook geared towards adults works with a little guidance, there are an increasing number of kid-friendly cookbooks out there that give chefs-to-be a more hands-on and . . . er . . . digestible experience.

The Supernatural Kids Cookbook by Nancy Mehagian (Foreword by Bridget Fonda)
With 70 (!) healthy mouth-watering recipes, this mostly veggie cookbook is a treasure trove of scrumptious eats with cute names like Hippotatoes and Monkey Muffins. Broken up into typical sections (salads, main dishes, desserts, etc.), the recipes are fairly simple (i.e. even beginners can join in on the fun) and call for easy-to-spot ingredients found in any local grocery store. While photographs of the finished dish would certainly add to the book’s user-friendly appeal, there is plenty of “icing on the cake” that kids (and parents) will appreciate, such as a section on food groups, a glossary of clearly defined cooking terms, and an illustrated list of supplies every cook should have in the kitchen. There is even a recipe for dog treats at the end. Arf!

The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio
For those with an adventurous palate, this award-winning spiral-bound, photograph-heavy cookbook is an excellent gateway into teaching kids about other cultures — through their stomachs. With 60 offerings from countries like Italy, China, Mexico, and France, the list of recipes includes everything from egg rolls to pizza dough to guacamole. You’ll also find a section on making soup stock from scratch — a surefire way to cutting down on your family’s sodium intake (store-bought stocks are super salty). If you like what you see (and taste), there’s more goodness to be had! The 2nd International Cookbook for Kids is also out in stores and features dishes from Greece, Thailand, and Brazil.

One World Kids Cookbook by Sean Mendez (Foreword by Ferran Adrià, chef at elBulli, a restaurant in northeast Spain that won the World’s Best Restaurant award five times)
Unlike my previous suggestion, there are only 19 recipes in this not-so-slim cookbook. But not to worry! Kids will be so engrossed in digging through the information that comes with each selection that it will take them many moons just to get through half of the book. Each recipe is accompanied by four pages of fun facts and figures, including maps and flags of the country where each recipe originated, and interesting cultural tidbits about the region where the recipe is most often consumed (i.e. ice cream was invented in China approximately 2000 BCE). While most cookbooks offer one way to prepare a dish, this one also presents variations on the same theme (i.e. how to make chili vegetarian). The gorgeous photos sprinkled throughout are the best of the bunch.

To read the rest of the post, please visit  Letter Blocks: The B&N Parents and Educators Blog.

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