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Cookbooks for the Teeny People

2367561499_5465f967a2_m_3 It's no secret that I don't cook.  But as an activity with the kids - that's another story!  And I'm seriously attracted to books.  So naturally all the recent talk about cookbooks for kids (here and here) is right up my alley.  But is it worth it?  Needed?  Or just a gimick to sell us yet another thing we parents could do just fine (or better!) without?  Like $20 dinosaur-shaped muffin tins.

I hate to admit it but I'm tempted by titles like 'Kitchen Playdates' and 'Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients' (shoot, I wish all recipes had just 3 ingredients, I'd cook more).  But...I'm thinking we should just stick to regular old recipes in the multitudinous regular old grown-up cookbooks in our house.  I mean, how hard can banana bread really be?  Plus, there's the internet, and surely there's a parent blog out there loaded with this stuff - for free! 

If I do walk down this path, I'm thinking a good starting point might be Mollie Katzen's "Pretend Soup," if only to complement the 42 other Moosewood cookbooks in our house.  Have you tried any of these little kids cookbooks?  Any not to be missed?


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While I confess we haven't used it to actually make much in the kitchen, my daughter loves her copy of _Pretend Soup_. Like you said, you don't need a kids' cookbook for the recipes, necessarily (most of the ones in _Pretend Soup_ are basic--bagel pizzas and the like) but this one at least, with its sweet pictures, inspires my 4 year old to pretend-cook a lot more than _The Joy of Cooking_ would.

I think once they can read, bring out whatever cookbook you want. However, for the pre-readers I HEART Mollie Katzen with the little diagrams of what to put in and what to do. So kid-centric in a good way. I did the library version to see if it worked.
Those energy circles are pretty darned tasty.
Good luck.

Count me in the "gimmick" camp. Now, more power to any writer who can write and market a cookbook for children. But this mama ain't buying it.

Since their earliest days standing on a chair at the counter, my kids have watched and helped me cook. That is the best way for them to learn, in my opinion. By experiencing how the food they will eat as self-sufficient adults is prepared.

They don't need to be catered to with cutesy recipes. (More to the point, I don't want to do it). They've had tons of fun sauteing onions, putting apples through the food mill, chopping carrots, stirring up cake ingredients. Heck, this afternoon, we're trying chocolate pudding.

I grew up with a mother who didn't like to cook and didn't encourage us to cook. I was making cookies by myself in 2nd grade (I had made cookies with my older sister earlier) from the Betty Crocker kids cookbook (circa 1973?) some relative had given us. I cooked from that until I was through middle school. Maybe this is why I am always attracted to kids' cookbooks for my daughter? I look at them but they all seem to simple or too splashy. I don't know what I expect, something that inspire my picky eater to eat something new? I fear it won't work or worse, she'll try it and it will taste terrible! I should try the library (says the librarian).

I love kids cookbooks (and our $20 dinosaur muffin tins too!). While my cooking age kids (the 3 and 5 year old) are perfectly willing and able to help me with a recipe from one of our non-kid cookbooks, as someone above said, I just enjoy the kid-centric nature of the kid cookbooks, and I think my kids get a kick out of them too. They have plenty of years to cook from grown up cookbooks. What I wish though, is that the food in them was actually better quality. We checked out The Fairy Cookbook from the library for our fairy fanatic son and although the pictures and names were cute, the food in it was crap, all junkfood. And as someone already pointed out about Pretend Soup, which we use alot, it's really just a bunch of pretend food, as the title implies. So as I'm typing, I'm realizing that we use the kids cookbooks when we want to have fun (and make a treat of sorts) and we use grown-up cookbooks when we are making dinner.

My four-year-old son LOVES Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup and Salad People. He likes when I read the quotes from other kids about their thoughts on making the recipe. He can follow her beautiful illustrations with minimal help from me. I just prop up the double-page spread on the counter and provide the ingredients. We even use her recipes for dinner sometimes. Easy and yummy! They've gotten him to try radishes, peppers, egg salad sandwiches, buttermilk based smoothies and tons more. Obviously I could recreate this for him from my own cookbooks. But between work, cleaning the house, working in the garden, etc. who has the time? It's a totally different experience cooking from her cookbooks than just having his help in the kitchen when I'm making dinner. Both are great learning experiences, of course. But when we use Pretend Soup, he's the one in charge. Not me. We just check them out from our library every other month or so. They'll probably become part of our permanent collection soon. She also has a cookbook for elementary kids called Honest Pretzels. It's just a bit more involved but every bit as good.

there's a book called 'growing vegetable soup' that i read with everett and truman, it's one of those lovely collage art books and it goes through the process of growing and cooking a bunch of vegetables into soup (magically, none of the veggies got eaten by aphids or chickens nor did anyone forget to water them. but i digress). it tends to inspire the kids to eat soup, so that's a big plus. i was also given rachael ray's 'cooking with kids' cookbook as a gift and like it o.k. (some of the recipes are actually great). generally my interaction with my children while i cook is more like, 'here, stir this' or 'can you read how many cups of flour we need?' or 'do you want to see the cream turn into butter?' and it's not as if we're truly interacting with the cookbook.

but the cookbooks i use to cook with my kids are, as others have said, my "regular" cookbooks. i like 'garlic, basil tomatoes and chives' for its simplicity and the 'better homes and gardens' cookbook for general universality. lately i've been cooking from 'nourishing traditions' and 'fields of greens' and 'how to cook supper' by lynne rosetto kaspar.

this reminds me, though, 14 years ago when i was in paris, i bought a kids' cookbook that charmed me. it's in french, and i think it's now time to get out the book and a french-english dictionary and cook together.

Oh, another favorite book of my son's is Bee bim-Bop! by Linda Sue Park. It's a great picture book about a girl preparing a traditional Korean meal with her family. There's a yummy recipe at the end that my son loved, and we always use chopsticks when we make it. :)

The kids cookbooks can be great to encourgage getting picky eaters to eat a more diverse selection of foods.

We tested Pretend Soup and Salad People from the library, and then bought them used at Powells, and further discounted with our summer reading program coupons, a few summers ago. There are some real recipies in there, just with funny names, like Green Spagetti is simply pesto noodles. By having some of these dishes in a "kid's cookbook" made my daughter willing to try them. A couple years later, she now loves pesto. She refused to eat soup, but she was happy to make and try Counting Soup. She also is more involved in helping think of dinner ideas because of it.

I think it is time to pull those out again to cook with her little brother. THanks!

I am afraid of falling into the same trap as my mom - in such a rush to get dinner made that when kids ask to help, she would give us the simplest job (I chopped a LOT of veggies growing up) and the rest was all a mystery. I didn't learn to cook until I was an adult. Ironically, as a grandmother, my mom involves my kids fully in the cooking process.

We have a great cookbook by DK called "Children's Quick and Easy Cookbook". I love it because the foods are all pretty simple and kid-friendly, but stuff adults would want to eat too and it has full-color, step-by-step photographs for every recipe. My 6 year old daughter could follow the instructions before she could read. Although most of the recipes still require a parent on hand to help. Some of the recipes include a spanish omelette, falafel, chicken curry, crepes, but also regular kids stuff like chicken nuggets and pizza.

We love Mollie Katzen's Salad People and Pretend Soup. I am not a cook or very creative in the kitchen, although I do like to bake, so it has been good for me to have a nice easy recipe to follow. My son loves it too for the illustrations that he can actually follow. He's now taken to writing his own recipes with illustrations! Of course, they are not always something that one would enjoy eating! ;)

Of course when your kids combine home videos with culinary prowess, the results an be entertaining, and frightening. A friend's daughter has posted her own cooking show, guest starring her siblings. http://www.littlecheflive.com/

BEWARE, her brother has a knife (a real one)

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