Everything about the What’s Cooking with Kids? website and the work Michelle Stern is doing, makes me excited. She owns a mobile cooking school for kids that focuses on locally grown foods and teaches kids to enjoy cooking and eating them. Instead of “shooing” the kids out of the kitchen, Michelle encourages us to draw them in and include them in the preparation of family meals, providing tasks that are age appropriate and teaching kids to be enthusiastic about preparing nutritious, delicious meals from local food sources. It is certainly much more likely to have children who enjoy a varied and well-balanced diet, if they’ve had the experience of working alongside Mom and Dad to prepare family meals and understand how to make the best choices.
I can definitely get excited and support the ideas of someone who promotes using in-season, local foods. We all know that food grown locally, has the opportunity to fully ripen on the plant, reaching peak flavor and nutritional value. In-season foods are less expensive and can help to stretch the family food budget. When you teach these important concepts to children, not with lectures, but shoulder-to-shoulder with them, by your example, you make a life-long impact on their food and health decisions. You make great memories that will endure and be passed down to their own children. Who wouldn’t be excited about that? Love, love this website!
Guess, what? Michelle has written a cookbook, The Whole Family Cookbook”, that incorporates this worthy philosophy with recipes for delicious dishes your family will love eating and preparing together. The introduction and entire first chapter is devoted to tips and ideas for cooking with kids, understanding what they are capable of and helping them to become little locavores. 🙂 There are more than 75 delicious recipes spread across 6 categories:
- Breakfast of Champions – Recipes include: Mini Frittatas, Banana Sunshine Smoothie, Corny Raspberry Muffins, Breakfast Burritos, Crunchy Granola and more.
- Lunchtime Favorites – Recipes include: Wrap It Up: BBQ Style, Chinese Chicken Salad, Thai Spring Rolls, Salty Pretzel Pillows and others.
- What’s for Dinner? – Recipes include: Minestrone with White Beans and Kale, Grandma’s Spaghetti Gravy, Pork Chops with Sage Butter, Pumpkin Ravioli, Turkey Toes and more.
- Scrumptious Sides – Recipes include: Kale Chips, Potato Latkes, Patriotic Fruit Salad, Purple Rice, Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/Carmelized Apples and more.
- Mom-Approved Treats – Recipes include: Frozen Choco Bananas, Peaches and Cream Cobbler, Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet, Flourless Chocolate Cake and more.
- Make Your Own! – Recipes include: Butter, Pancake Mix, Fresh Basil Pesto, Hummus and more.
While there are not pictures on every single page, there are pictures on many of them. The photography is GORGEOUS and engaging. You’ll want a bite of these great recipes, before you’ve even started to prepare them, because of the beautiful color photographs. Plus, kids are going to be drawn into the book by the fabulous shots of kids cooking, gardening and enjoying food!
Every recipe has a legend, that defines age ranges by color, and then each instruction in the recipe is coded with a colored triangle coordinating with the age range of children that could handle that task. The recipes are peppered with personal anecdotes, tips on cooking with kids, information on being environmentally responsible and even a little bit of science. As you can imagine, I have a LARGE collection of cookbooks and some rarely see the light of day. This cookbook will stay front and center in the bookcase, where I can pull it out frequently!
The first recipe I tested from the cookbook was Chicken Picatta with Linguine. I doubled it for our family and company. Interestingly, it uses white wine, which I purchased especially for this recipe. When I make it, next time, I think I will substitute chicken broth, instead, and cut back a little bit on the lemon. Rather than finishing by adding the chicken into the sauce, I let everyone decide whether they would use the sauce or not and after tasting it, most preferred the chicken and linguine without it. I think the substitutions I mentioned, above, will remedy that next time we make it. Otherwise, we really liked the dish and it was SO pretty served. I always love when I get to try something new and I like it when my kids at least try new things. This dish gave us an opportunity. I had never tasted or used capers before, and discovered that we really liked them. Capers are the immature buds of the caper plant. The plant is native to the Middle East and Mediterranean countries. They’re usually sun-dried and then brined in vinegar and salt. They were quite good with the chicken and looked so pretty! See?
The very next recipe I make is going to be Frozen Choco Bananas. I want to make them with the world’s most awesome grandkids — mine! lol One of my most vivid memories of elementary school is being able to take a dime to school on Fridays, because one of the high school clubs would sell frozen chocolate covered bananas as a fundraiser. It was such a treat to run out of the classroom at the end of the day and find a high schooler standing at the door filled with the simple, frozen sweets. Michelle kicks hers up a notch with sprinkles, chopped nuts or coconut on the chocolate. What a smart woman! 🙂 I can’t wait to share these with my three favorite tiny people.
I also intend to use this with the girls in my 4-H cooking club. I have been teaching them about nutrition and using seasonal foods in their cooking. They’re going to want to make ALL these recipes!
I want to encourage you to visit What’s Cooking with Kids? and to get this great cookbook that will get you hands-on in the kitchen with your kids. You can grab The Whole Family Cookbook on Amazon for only $11.33. And one of you lucky family chefs is going to WIN a copy in the very generous giveaway Michelle is sponsoring, here, at Busy-at-Home.
You must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter. Mandatory entry must be completed before any optional entries will be counted. Winner will be selected in a random drawing using random.org. Deadline for entry is midnight (CST), Sunday, June 26, 2011.
In a comment below, share a fun story about cooking with kids or about how you incorporate local, seasonal foods into your cooking.
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I received a copy of ” The Whole Family Cookbook”, in order to test recipes and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As always, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.