Posted on | January 6, 2012 | 10 Comments
Following on from my last post, and putting my money where my mouth is, we’ve not only been drawing food together, we’ve also been baking and cooking together as a family
Whoopie pies were a new gastronomic experience for our family. Essentially they are cake sandwiches; cake batter is cooked like biscuits ie as dollops on a tray rather than in tins, and when cooked these cake-biscuits are sandwiched together with an icing or other filling. The kids’ drooled over the photos in Claire Ptak’s book – everything looked delicious to them and they were so happy when I said we could make whatever they fancied.
As you can see, they had lots of fun baking!
And they loved the whoopie pies we ended up with SO much that I didn’t even get the chance to take a photo… they were gone and gobbled before I knew it!
So Whoopie Pie Fun by Claire Ptak definitely got the thumbs up from the kids. But as a Mum… I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the actual book. Although marketed as a children’s book, the format and presentation doesn’t suggest the book was put together especially with kids in mind. To me it looked just like an adult’s cookery book. For example, there were no explanations of cookery terms (which might be useful for a child reading the book themselves), and no images of kids themselves doing baking (or even eating!).
As a whoopie pie newbie the book didn’t answer a couple of questions I would have liked to know the answer to – for example, how well do whoopie pies freeze (the recipes are for large quantities – great if you have a school fair, but way more that we needed in one batch), or what (if anything) can be substituted for buttermilk (an ingredient needed in lots of recipes, and which isn’t stocked in many small UK supermarkets)? [Sure, I can find out the answers by Googling, but it would have been nice to have the information in the book itself].
For an example of a fabulous looking cookbook where kids really are… well, I was going to write “at the heart of the recipes”, but that sounds like they are ingredients, which is rather too Hansel-and-Gretel-esque for this post… so rather, for a cookbook well thought-out and appealingly presented for children to use themselves I can definitely recommend Around the World with Little Kitchen by Sabrina Parrini.
Over Christmas M tried out several recipes from this book…
…and all of them were really very delicious!
With J playing with her Dad, I was able to enable M to try out all sorts of new skills in the kitchen from including properly sharp knives, turning the gas on, and cooking meat for the first time. It was really a great experience for both of us.
Although clearly aimed at kids, the book doesn’t look childish, but rather professional, with glossy photos and smart binding. Inside it’s got lots of features which are particularly helpful for young chefs:
M really liked the fact that the recipes came from different countries around the world (indicated by the country’s flag next to any given recipe), and it certainly made for a more varied list of recipes than you often find in kids’ cookery books. 23 out of 36 recipes were for savoury dishes; I was pleased to see so many as often kids’ cookbook authors focus on sweet (and not so healthy) food.
This is a great kids’ cookery book, especially for slightly older aspiring cooks eg 8-14. If I were to find fault, however, it would be in its lack of “translation” from the original Australian English (this book was first published in Australia, where Sabrina Parrini established the country’s first organic cookery school). Thus recipes may call for eggplants (rather than aubergines), rice cookers (which may well be more common in Australia where Japanese cuisine is widely found), almond meal (rather than ground almonds), and measurements are often made in “cups” (Australian cups, no less, which are not the same as either US cups and certainly not UK mugs!). Whilst all these little problems can be over come (indeed a note is made early on in the book about Australian cup equivalents in other measuring systems), it would have been relatively easy, and yet very helpful to “translate” these little vocabulary items, especially given the attention to detail so obviously lavishly shown elsewhere in the book.
Annoyingly, neither book contains an index – alas all too common in cookery books. Cookery book editors please note: an index is indispensable if you’ve not marked the page your recipe is on, or have an ingredient you want to find a recipe for. We don’t all choose recipes simply by browsing and looking at photos!
Whilst we baked and cooked we listened to:
What children’s cookery books do you use? What do you look for in a brilliant children’s cookery book?
Disclosure: I received my copy of these books from the publisher. This review, however, remains my own and honest opinion.