Sunday, April 14, 2024

Kids in the Kitchen and Blather

Like many women of my generation, I have a complicated relationship with food. I don't like to cook, but I like to feed people. Reading cookbooks is better than cooking, and I'm a big fan of Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book, vintage cookbooks, and M.F.K. Fisher's writing. My mother loved to cook, but she didn't really eat much of what she made. My grandmother probably spent thirty years of her life setting the table for twenty to thirty people; she had nine children and had to feed all of the workers on the dairy farm. 

I've had opinions about cookbooks before, but even though new cookbooks don't reflect my kitchen reality, which is largely based on processed cheese and cream of mushroom soup, I can't stop reading them. I had a large amount of cookbooks as a child, but oddly,  my mother didn't really want to cook with me. Had I shown her this cookbook, and asked to make a breakfast dish with hazelnut spread and coconut, she would have opened the cabinet above the kitchen desk, grabbed a handful of change from the jar, and slammed it on the counter, saying "It'd be cheaper to eat this instead". And yet, it was okay to eat two homemade chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Just two. 

So this is a charming cookbook, but I'm not sure that any of my students are really going to believe there are 18 different kinds of butter and more than one kind of salt! 
Perez, Rossini. Kids in the Kitchen: 70+ Fun Recipes for Young Chefs to Stir Up!
April 2, 2024 by Rock Point
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Like most cookbooks for children, this starts with some rudimentary terminology and instructions. There are lists of helpful equipment and ingredients, to have on hand, including capers and anchovy paste as well as Agave syrup, shallots, figs, and dates, as well as five kinds of vinegar. (I've only ever bought white vinegar because you can also use it to clean. And put up pickles.) These seem awfully exotic for a children's cookbook. 

There is a a LOT of good information about how to season food, how to prepare fruit and vegetables, and handy tables on conversions and how to tell if meat is properly cooked. There's even a section on garnishing worthy of my 1955 Betty Crocker Cookbook! This is perhaps the best introduction I've seen. 

The recipes are mostly reasonable, and are interspersed with things like the history of bagels, information on herbts, the fact that a lot of stale bread is thrown out, and different types of cheese. I would be tempted to make the Rainbow friend rice with red cabbage, the Creamy Lemon Spinach Ravioli, and the Spinach Grilled Cheese. There are even some fun food quizzes that made me thinking fondly of Mrs. Mercer, my middle school home ec teachers. 

The graphics are colorful and helpful, and make this book really pop. This is a great collection to have alongside Omari' McQueen's Best Bites, David Atherton's cookbooks, and Washburn's 20 Recipes Kids Should Know

My students are not as enthralled with cookbooks as I am, and I already have so many in the library that they don't use that I probably won't buy this. My daughter actually has white pepper in her cupboard, and her husband buys white onions and Russet potatoes, so if they were to have children, I could see them using a cookbook like this and maybe zesting citrus and having access to Adobo. Will I allow anyone to put rainbow sprinkles in their waffles? Unlikely. But I am also the person who asked the pediatrician if I could put peanut butter or olive oil in my children's oatmeal so they could get the amount of fat they needed for their brains to grow without me having to switch from the much cheaper (at the time) nonfat powered milk. I just don't care enough about food to spend that much time or money on it. 

Fantastic book! Just not for me. 

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard a relationship with cooking/food summed up so satisfyingly before-- hate to cook but love to feed people. I feel that! This does sound awfully exotic for a children's cookbook. We have a couple that focus on simple, healthy snacks or baked goods, but this would definitely require us to take things up a notch. My mom might be interested as she already has like 6 different kinds of vinegar and often cooks with all the grandkids. I'll keep it in mind for her perhaps! Thank you for sharing. :)