Since I knew I would be broke this summer - and Lanie wouldn't be in daycare - I tried to think of some fun activities for the house. At some point, I decided on cooking as our main learning project. She's 7 1/2 and she's reading very well. She enjoys helping in the kitchen and she follows directions well so I thought we were good and ready.
So I started scouring bookstores for a good beginning cookbook. But I had a hard time finding a true "cook" book for Lanie. There were lots of kids cookbooks but they were mostly novelty or snack items - making funny-face pancakes or a hot dog that looks like an octopus. I wanted something that would actually help teach her the basics so she could make a meal.
Finally, I came across this in a used bookstore (click on the pic to see it at Amazon):
And boy, was I glad I did!
It's published by Klutz Press. It's spiral bound and the pages can be easily wiped clean. Each recipe has the ingredients listed by words and pictures. And some of the recipe instructions have pictures also - but not all of them. It has REAL food that we both would eat. Here are a few recipes that we tried: Crunchy chicken legs, Scrambled Eggs, Raisin Bran Muffins, Ready Spaghetti, and Hidden Hot Dogs.
All of the recipes referred to the child as "The chef" and the grown up as "The assistant". Lanie loved that.
As an adult (and a foodie), my main complaint was that some of the dishes were a little bland. The crunchy chicken legs were coated in corn flake crumbs and the recipe called for the seasoning (salt, pepper, paprika) to be shaken on top of the corn flake crumbs (not put on the chicken directly). I KNEW that was going to turn into bland chicken but I allowed Lanie to do it by the recipe and then we talked about how sometimes things can be changed a little the next time you make a recipe.
Also, (because I know some people would be more worried about this than others) a few of the recipes are a little dated and don't give a lot of thought about fat or calories. Still, there was nothing terribly extreme - and we balanced out each meal with fruit/veg and milk or juice. And there is a section on making "non-yukky" vegetables - and a few salad recipes also.
But those are really minor complaints. The book was really good for me to help Lanie learn to cook. She learned to read the whole recipe before starting. She learned to check the ingredients. She learned about knife, oven and stove safety. Overall, it was a really fun summer project and I'm glad we did it!
I would definitely recommend the book to others.