Cooking up Fun!
It is wonderful when your kids start to explore new foods and how to make them. I learned by simply watching my mother and then experimenting at some point. One of my mom’s favorite past-times is looking at cook books. I inherited the love as well. So when my daughters started watching shows on Netflix like Zumba’s Just Desserts, Nailed It, and The Great British Baking Show, I was a pretty happy camper. Now J has really gotten into trying things out in the kitchen, which I wholeheartedly support. She prefers baking but will “cook” normal food as well. I bought her a great cookbook for her birthday, but when I was offered a chance to review one written by a 12 year old, I jumped at the chance.
20 Recipes Kids Should Know is written by Esme Washburn and photographed by her big sister Calista. That in and of itself endears me to this book – two sisters working together! From first look, the bright colors jump out at you. The art was made for a tween/teen. J looked through the book, which arrived right before she left for camp, and was so excited to see certain recipes like “Creamiest Mac and Cheese” and “Mouthwatering Marinated Steak.” Like all cookbooks, it starts with basic safety tips and terminology. Each recipe also has a large picture and detailed instructions. I think when J comes home from camp we might try to make pasta from scratch!
The book that we got her for her birthday is America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs. This book contains over 100 recipes for kids. This book has a wider variety of recipes, but also has the funding and backing of being America’s Test Kitchen. Great images and lots of loud color blocks (ok, loud for me, perfect for kids). There are a ton of great tips on how to change the recipe up to make it yours and explanations of knife skills and how to do tricky things like actually making a wrap stay closed. We use this a lot and even found a copy at one of our friend’s houses that they were experimenting from.
I’m a cookbook hoarder, so I think every house should have both. They each cover things so well. One thing that 20 Recipes excels at is breaking down the recipes. For an example, I’m going to discuss how both books cover the classic cheese omelet. The ATK book has 5 steps that assume knowledge of certain things, like when the pan should be hot. They also have extra photos illustrating how to move the egg around so all of it gets cooked but stays in shape. The 20 Recipes book has 9 steps because it breaks things down and adds steps new cooks might not think of. Her explanation of how to get the entire egg cooked helps those who work better with written details. Both books handle the process fabulously.
In the end, 20 recipes is a great starter book for a new chef. The simplicity and clean pages will help tweens/teens feel that the process of cooking isn’t overwhelming. I didn’t notice until the end of writing this that 20 recipes is published by Prestel. They are known for their absolutely stunning books, with a focus on the arts. That makes sense now. When your child is a more experienced chef, they can move up to the ATK book. Either way, if you kid wants to cook, let them!!!
*Note – I did receive a copy of the 20 Recipes Kids Should Know from the publisher in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.