Cooking With Kids: Kid-Friendly Cookbooks
I've been reading new kid-related cookbooks so you don't have to. First, the good news.
Nicola Graimes's Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox is petite (the book is about 6-inches square) and English. The author may also be petite and English, for all I know. The recipes have an emphasis on "healthy" but without resorting to unsavory stuff like low-fat cottage cheese or tub margarine. Surely my daughter Iris could be convinced to take Chicken Tikka Naan, Zucchini & Parmesan Fritters, or even Sushi Cones in her Hello Kitty lunchbox, although she would eat the contents of the sushi cone and leave the seaweed. There is a whole section on salads; if your kids accept salad in their lunch, please don't mention this in the comments. Top 100 is appealingly laid out and a bargain at $10 list.
Lauren Bank Deen's Kitchen Playdates is obviously written from years of experience of kids tearing through her house, prodding balls of dough, sprinkling toppings, and licking beaters. It's full of great tips, like: "When my kids make calzones, I find that they eat the bread and ignore the filling...with a long snake of stuffed pizza, they tend to eat the whole enchilada, so to speak." Iris and I are totally making pizza snakes soon. Deen is a cooking show producer who has worked with Bobby Flay and Ina Garten, and her recipes are bold and modern without being too bold and modern. Most kids I know would love Duck and Andouille Jambalaya, for example. Her Parmesan Shortbread is a version of one of our family favorites, icebox cookies made with cheese.
I like these books because they have the attitude that food is fun and it's a treat to get to share it with your familyalthough Top 100's endless nutritional information gets old fast.
Some other new books argue that food is medicine and it's your job to protect your family from the street drugs and slip them the good stuff. What fun! Next time, two such books, perfect for regifting to your favorite enemies. Care to guess the titles?
About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.