Monday, January 02, 2023

MMGM- Cookbooks

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Atherton, David and Bowsher, Alice.  
Bake, Make, and Learn to Cook Vegetarian: Healthy and Green Recipes for Young Cooks
November 8, 2022 by Candlewick Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

It's not important to know who celebrity cook Atherton is to enjoy this vegetarian tome for beginner cooks. Like the earlier Bake, Make and Learn to Cook (2021) (which had fantastic illustrations by Rachel Stubbs), this offers a variety of meals and snacks from a "green" perspective. It would be helpful to the planet if people ate less meat, and these recipes provide an easy and delicious way for children to convince their families to do just that. 

I always like to see cookbooks with more practical meals than baking, and this starts out with some of these, along with a few unusual dishes. Tomato sauce, veggie burgers, and stir fry noodles are standards, but Eye Love Bread (bread with a sunny side up style egg baked on top of it) and corn and potato cakes will be new to most readers, and I may try the green spinach crepes myself, spread with homemade hummus. 

There are also savory snacks, including a guacamole made with green peans, cheesy rabbit crackers with chia seeds, and bread crowns that reminded me of some of the elaborate projects in Harry Potter: The Official Harry Potter Baking Book by Joanna Farrow. Baked goods, such as a strawberry jam tart, sticky flapjack, and apple rock cakes, seem delightfully British, but the inclusion of "freezy grapes" seems a bit forced. I am skeptical that they taste like sorbet! For the truly motivated, there are "Showstoppers" including spring butterfly cupcakes. This has very good instructions for waht I learned a few years ago are "fairy cakes"-- you basically lop off the peak top of a cupcake, cut it in half, and stick it on top of the frosting so it looks like butterfly wings. Sort of. Finding out that this is what a fairy cake was one of the big disillusions of my adult life. 

All in all, the recipes are clear and easy to follow. The beginning of the book has standard safety precautions and information about tools and ingredients. Bowsher's illustrations are fun; different from Stubbs and as particulary 2020ish as those, but in a different color scheme and with heavier, inked lines. For children who loved Washburn's 20 Recipes Kids Should Know, Gerasole's The Spattulata Cookbook, or Gold's Kids Cook 1-2-3, this would make a great gift, along with some oven mitts and a package of chia seeds!

Goldman, Duff. Super Good Cookies for Kids
November 1, 2022 by HarperCollins
Copy provided  by Young Adult Books Central

As far as I can tell, tweens still love to make cookies, judging from the amount of baked goods I receive lovingly bundled in plastic bags by smiling children who seem very proud of themselves! And there are tons of cookie and cupcake books out there, some more useful than others. Not that browsing Alan Richardson's or Karen Tack's cupcake books isn't fun; I just don't want to deal with OR eat that much fondant! 

This was a particularly useful collections of recipes that are impressive and yet imminently doable. The best part? There is a recipe for Cookie Candy. You've probably had it-- oleo, peanut butter, oatmeal and cocoa boiled and then dropped by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and left to harden a bit. They aren't pretty to look at (using cupcake papers helps!), but they are delicious, and I've never seen the recipe anywhere but church or grange cookbooks! Since most of these collections I own are 30+ years old and shedding pages the way sprinkles fall off a toddler's cookie, I'm definitely keeping this book for myself! Also included are the tasty but bizarre Chow Mein noodle and butterscotch chip cookies from the 1970s. This was a DEEP dive into cookie culture!

The chapter names are fun and descriptive-- International Cookies, Unclassifiable Cookies, Things with Cookies in Them, Things That are Sort of Cookies, and more! I am getting together with a friend to attempt homemade Stroop Waffles (but I think we're using a pizzelle iron instead of a waffle one), and there are so many other recipes that have just one or two special ingredients that I think I could swing. Many are completely reasonable, and don't require a trip to the store if you have a well stocked pantry. 

Since this is the 2020s, there is a chapter of gluten free cookies as well, and a somewhat inexplicable chapters on macarons, which I have never understood but which seem to be a fad right now! Klutz's Kids Magical Baking, Saltz's The Delish Kids, or the Food Network's Big, Fun Kids' Baking Book have some great recipes, but this one really outshines every kids' cookie book I've seen, and even the preface information on safety and ingredients seems more thoughtful. 

I was a bit obsessive as a child, and had I received this as a gift, I would have wanted to make every recipe, preferably in order, on a schedule that I would have been glad to add to our family calendar, if my mother had been organized enough to have one. This would make for a great, year long project with your favorite tween, and wrapping this book up with some of the more exotic ingredients (crystallized ginger, sliced almonds, gel food coloring) and a promisory note for your favorite young baker would make a great gift!


  1. The book on cooking vegetarian dishes would have been perfect for my daughter and me when she was a kid. We're both vegetarians except for fish.

  2. So important for kids to know how to cook and bake! I remember great times with my mom in the kitchen.

  3. I have a granddaughter who is a terrific cook, and she is pretty much a vegetarian. I'll let her know about these. Thanks for your reviews. I just reviewed a cookbook called Kids Can Cook Anything. It's great too.

  4. I know it sounds fake, but frozen grapes really do taste a bit like sorbet! The tricky part (for me) is remembering to take them out of the freezer in time - if they freeze solid, they stop being fun to eat.