Yuck Soup: Or, How My Daughters Taught Me to Cook
During September 11, 2001, I kept the television turned to the Food Network. Five year old Elizabeth was entranced. “I will cook dinner tonight,” she announced. Single-handedly, she produced toast and scrambled eggs with small pieces of raw spaghetti scattered on top. “The garnish,” she replied to my question.
Until my children started to teach me, I never realized what a pleasure cooking could be for children—and adults. Over the years we used various books. I had a quick look in JNF 641.5 and found an old favorite as well as three of the sorts we enjoyed. A book such as Passport on a Plate: A Round-the-World Cookbook for Children by Diana Simone Vezza gives an informative introduction to each cuisine, explaining how the geography of the region affects the ingredients available and gives straightforward instructions for over 100 recipes in a nicely illustrated volume. If your children want to explore the food of a particular country in greater depth, there is a series called Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks, each of which is called Cooking the [whatever] Way. There is a lot of cultural information, including mentions of regional cooking, a glossary of special ingredients, and simple menus that allow you to cook typical meals.
There are historical variations, including Loretta Frances Ichord’s Hasty Pudding, Jonnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America. Not only does this book cover foods from various traditions—European, African, and Original Peoples—but it stresses the need to preserve food. There are not a great number of recipes, however the ones included are illustrative of the points made in the text.
For a bit of fun, try Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds by Ann McCallum. The cooking is simple in this book, but for a child who enjoys messing around in the kitchen and is having trouble grasping basic math concepts such as fractions and probability, this book could be a valuable resource with hands-on learning.
And for afters, as we called dessert when I was growing up, we found Bake and Make Amazing Cookies excellent for baking parties with friends. Author Elizabeth MacLeod presents some thirty recipes, some to cover holidays, some as presents, some seasonal and some just for fun, in easy-to-follow steps. The only trouble was that after everyone had a go at quality control, there was never enough filling for the chocolate sandwiches on page 37.
And that, dear readers, is how my daughters taught me to cook.
—Mary Elizabeth Allen, Hickory Corner Branch