A year-round FUN food adventure
This is much more than a basic children’s cookbook. There are roughly 50 simple recipes in the 160 pages, but the other elements are what makes this book special. The author, Barton Seaver (who also co-authored Food for Health – reviewed above) is both a master chef and a National Geographic fellow. In this book, he shares stories about growing up cooking, healthy eating tips, food facts, profiles of foodie people and challenges that can be completed individually or with other kids.
The book takes you on a food journey over the year. Starting in January you find out about the tradition of “Ringing In” the New Year, read about the cuisine of the Southern United States, learn knife skills, make snacks such as “dinosaur kale chips”, discover why washing fruit and veg is so important and your January Challenge is to make creative animal snacks.
The same structure is carried through the entire book, although you don’t necessarily get a kitchen skill or a cuisine in every month. For example, in June have a “Green Scene” spread that talks about the world’s oceans and which are the best & worst seafood purchasing choices. You also have the challenge to add more protein to your diet and two people profiles.
There are lots of little details that set the book apart – such as the bookmark flap on the back cover that also acts as a conversion chart and the surprise nuggets of information – Did you know that Romans didn’t eat butter, they used it to dress wounds!
I really liked the concept of this book. Instead of treating cooking as a stand-alone activity, it draws in many of how our food choices affect the environment and how food is so important in defining and perpetuating our cultural identities. It also highlights how food & cooking can become an intrinsic element of our person, family histories. I particularly enjoyed August, and it focuses on heritage & recipes. The challenge that month is to put together a family cookbook – a wonderful way to encourage multi-generational interaction and ensure expertise from our past is preserved for our future.
You do not need to go through month by month. Although it is set out that way, you can really dip in at any point and find something enjoyable. The kids and I learned a lot and have used many of the tips when going shopping. For instance, we typed out the list of “good” & “bad” fish choices and laminated it into a little wallet card. Everyone in the family got one, so we all have a handy guide to good choices if we are at the store, a farmers market or in a restaurant.
If you are looking for a straight-up “this is how to make 57 types of cookie” type of kids cookbook, then you may be disappointed in the National Geographic Kids Cook Book. However, if you appreciate the importance of food & cooking in our lives and want an easy to understand, yet highly informative book to start your kids off this is the one for you. Healthy eating, food, and cooking for kids never looked so good – or so sustainable!