The Peanut Butter Cookbook for Kids.
Ralph, Judy, and Ray Gompf. Illustrated by Craig Terlson.
Hyperion Paperbacks for Children: New York, 1995: 96pp, paper, $14.95.
Cookery (Peanut butter)-Juvenile literature.
Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
"Although salted, roasted peanuts continue to be an important snack food, the main use of peanuts in North America is to make peanut butter and its most popular use is for sandwiches. Over 700 million pounds of peanut butter -- smooth and chunky -- are produced annually in the United States. . . Someone in North America eats a peanut butter sandwich every five seconds."
Peanut butter lovers are in luck. Fellow fan Judy Ralph, having taught and participated in programs about nutrition, "kid-tested all the recipes included to ensure accuracy, safety, and good taste!" Her co-author, professional trucker Ray Gompf, "collected a wide variety of recipes from fellow truck drivers, travellers, diner cooks, and scores of schoolchildren."
The introductory section illustrates healthy eating based on the U.S. food guide pyramid -- categories are comparable to the Canadian guide. "You've probably heard that foods such as peanut butter, eggs, ice cream, cheese, processed meats, and hot dogs have high fat content. . . . As you grow older you'll have to eat these foods in moderation as your parents do. But you're still growing and need calories from fat for proper growth and development."
Following a brief interesting history of the peanut is information on how to grow your own nuts and make home-made peanut butter. There's a page on kitchen safety and hygiene entitled "Before you Bake." It offers sensible advice including "Always stir [boiling] liquids with a long-handled wooden spoon" and "Do not put your fingers in the bowl or near the moving parts of any appliance when it is running."
Throughout the book, a tiny figure appears holding up a red stop sign. "Depending on the recipe you choose, you may need to use the oven, the microwave, or the heating elements on top of the stove. You may need to use sharp knives, a grater, or the electric mixer. . . . When you see this sign [the child holding the stop sign] in a recipe it signals that you need to get an adult, be alert, and take caution."
However, there is only one recipe that doesn't have the caution symbol in the instructions. Presumably then, young children would need "help" with the other forty-nine. Older or experienced children can probably follow and handle the illustrated step by-step instructions. But the older kids may be put off by the constant warning signs, and by some childish inclusions such as a "Connect the Dots 1 to 36," or "The Shake Song," sung to the tune of "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush."
This theme cookbook contains fifty recipes divided into three categories: "Super Snacks"; "Hale and Hearty"; and "Party Pizazz". The first includes snacks like Ants on a Log, and Fruit Roll Ups. A number of items from "Hale and Hearty" could have been included with the previous section, for example, PB Spread/Dip or PB Bran Fake Squares. There are several main-dish recipes such as Thai Chicken Pizza, or Chicken Stir-fry with Rice and PB sauce. "Party Pizazz" is strictly sweets such as PB Cookiegram or Vanilla PB Squares.
All recipes list ingredients at the beginning, in imperial measurements, and indicate the number of servings. PB Caramel Corn "makes 2 large bowls." Unfortunately, in the snack category, the two drink recipes (PB Milkshakes and PB Hot Chocolate) serve four and five respectively, with no instruction for single servings.
Whimsical and useful illustrations accompany each section, and there are many interesting watercolours by Winnipeg illustrator Craig Terlson that are reminiscent of Pat Cupples's watercolour work in Snow Watch. Terlson drew each and every peanut in the book individually. The multi-racial mix of children shown appear to be in the targeted eight-and-older range.
This appealing cookbook would be a popular selection for school-age programs, libraries or for a child's own collection. Despite a few minor drawbacks this is definitely a recommended purchase.
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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