Easy to Read Recipes with Delicious Results!
Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up.
This book is planned to be versatile. Because of the very simple vocabulary and the illustrations with each step, it is designed so children can use it independently. It can be used by newcomers to the English language and others who have difficulty reading long directions. And yes, it can also be used by adults who have enough self-esteem not to be insulted by the simplicity of the directions but who just want to create great tasting food!
AUTHOR DOROTHY ELLIOTT had good intentions when she created this simple cookbook. She originally designed many of these short, illustrated and easy to read recipes for her mentally handicapped cooking students. The straight-forward recipes allow children and novice cooks an opportunity to cook independently.
The table of contents lists all the recipes in the book. The forward explains how they are divided into three separate sections based on the level of the cook's ability.
Recipes in the "No-Heat" section do not need a stove or electric mixer to complete. "Oven Recipes" involve mixing and using the oven. Recipes in the "Stove-Top" section require careful supervision of children.
There is a very useful section called "Tips to Adults Teaching Cooking to Children." It puts the onus squarely on the supervising adults to gauge the child's capability first. A short checklist defines concepts children should know and skills that they should have mastered before continuing -- for example, how to measure or set a timer. Adults are also asked to make sure that kids know the difference between baking soda and baking powder. It would have been helpful if the author had provided readers with a brief summary of what those differences actually are!
Next comes a message "to the Cook" with useful organizational and cooking tips such as "break [an egg] into a small dish and check for shell before you put it in the dough." Simple safety and cleanliness rules follow. (Don't ever sneeze into the food.)
Two pages are devoted to "How to Measure." If necessary, adults are encouraged to help kids identify which measuring spoon to use by marking the handles with different coloured tape. Then children can colour the recipe's corresponding picture with a matching felt pen -- for example, put green tape on the handle of 1/3 cup measure, and when that measurement appears in the book, the child colours the cup graphic green.
Another two pages show and name several common household utensils, and then give young cooks a lesson on how to use an electric mixer.
After such thorough instructions, it's surprising to discover when we turn to the recipes that two in the "No-Heat" section involve making cold drinks with raw eggs. Health advice these days generally discourages people (especially children) from this potentially hazardous practice.
The recipes are extremely simple. Each reminds you to wash your hands before starting, and to turn off the stove when done. The top of each recipe lists ingredients, but some need clarification. For instance, the fruit salad recipe uses tinned oranges and pineapple but doesn't specify the size of can. Likewise for the Sloppy Beanwiches recipe that calls for one can of pork and beans.
There are a few other problems. The frozen Oreo Dessert uses "softened" ice cream, but doesn't tell cooks how that differs from "melted." There is a recipe for three-bean salad, but are there children who would actually eat it?
There are several colour photos of completed recipes in the book, with the corresponding names and a joke or riddle on the back of the page. The front cover is a bland photo of a teen and a young girl dishing up cookies. Although the book cautions adults to make sure kids wear oven mitts that fit, this youngster is drowning in hers.
Despite some drawbacks, this cookbook is an acceptable purchase, and could be useful for children learning to cook. The simple format and easy-to-read directions would be suitable for grade school children, the mentally challenged, or older ESL students.
A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.
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