Mom and Me Cooking Together
Mom and Me Cooking Together
With this book, you and Mom have a special set of recipes to make just the way you like’em, – delicious! So pull up a chair and start creating memories in the kitchen with the one who loves you so, so much!
Cooking brings out the very best in everyone. When you feed people you love, they feel that love from you! They can see and taste how much you care for them by the way you prepare delicious dishes for them. Good food makes everyone happy! I hope you enjoy spending this time with Mom as you make these fun, simple, joyful recipes. (From the “Introduction”.)
Mom and Me Cooking Together offers families a chance to experience the joy of cooking with simple, kid-friendly recipes. Breakfast, beverages, lunch, dinner, snacks, sides and desserts – there’s something for every mealtime experience. Illustrated with full-colour illustrations, the book is bright and cheery, and the recipes are all designed for fun in the kitchen and enjoyment at the table. But my experiences with little chefs are now deep in the past as my niece and nephew are well into their twenties. Needing expert opinion, I enlisted the help of Mika Shawarsky, mother of two young cooks (ages 4 and 7), an incredibly talented baker (she’d kill them on The Great Canadian Baking Show), and a Reading Recovery teacher here in Winnipeg. Her responses and insights enrich this review, and her comments will be distinguished by the use of italics.
Safety in any kitchen is important, and the book begins with reminders that little chefs should (a) listen to instructions, (b) wash their hands, (c) clean and tidy up the workspace, (d) never touch knives without permission, and (e) keep those little hands and arms away for hot ovens, boiling pots, and sizzling stoves. In fact, cooks of any age would do well to heed those reminders. Each recipe begins with a listing of the number of servings the recipe will make, followed by the amount of time needed for preparation and cooking.
I liked the recipes’ two-column presentation, with a list of needed kitchen equipment on one side, and the measurements for the ingredients on the other. Specifying the preferred size of measuring cup, bowl, or skillet is a helpful detail ensuring that the right size of implement is chosen for the task. Canadian cooks who use metric measurements will have to refer to the “Conversions” table published on the verso of the book’s first page. The recipes always indicate when an adult needs to offer assistance, as with knife-work, high-heat cooking, and boiling items on the stove, while providing tasks for the young chef so that he or she is not just a cooking-show viewer. Mika stated that the recipe format and directions were great when working with an adult..
The how-to of certain prep tasks is described in very concrete terms. Cracking an egg for the “Soft Scrambled Cheesy Eggs” can be tricky for a novice cook, but the author states that “a quick tap on the countertop cracks the shell just enough for you to push your thumb into the hole and separate the shell into halves.” Sometimes, you don’t have quite enough of the cheddar needed for “Stovetop Mac’n’Cheese”. No problem! “Use up any other cheese you have on hand. Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Swiss all make lovely additions to the cheddar.” Mika commented that I liked that they provided a variety of substitutions for most of the recipes, as this adds to their versatility. Even experienced cooks can learn something, too. I didn’t know that pre-shredded cheese (the kind bought in a bag) has a powder on it that can make mac’n’cheese gritty.
Something unique to this junior cookbook is its physical format, with fold-out panels containing a variety of suggestions to enhance the emotional connections formed when cooking with family. There’s a page on “Making Joyful Memories Together”, describing activities that can become treasured cooking traditions; a page of food-themed jokes (most were groaners, but I confess to enjoying them); suggestions for conversation-starters during meal or snack-time, and ideas to make every meal a celebratory event. I agreed with Mika that these extras were nice, but not necessarily useful in a cookbook. As a former teacher-librarian, I have some reservations about the durability of fold-out pages. Those fold-out pages made it difficult, or perhaps, impossible to assign page numbers, which was a problem for both me and Mika. Although the page headed up “What’s on the Menu?” functions as a table of contents, the fact that there are no page numbers makes it difficult to find specific recipes, and the fold-out panels add to the confusion as some recipes are hidden until you unfold the panel. But, we both liked the cute graphics, which added visual interest for the young readers.
Both Mika and I agree that the book could be a good choice for an elementary school library, and I think it would be a charming gift idea for those little folks eager to join the ranks of junior chefs. The book’s target audience is 4+, and Mika found the wording of the instructions to be very child friendly, so a four-year-old working with an adult was easily able to follow along. Although the book’s title is Mom and Me Cooking Together, I think that it’s important to remember that plenty of dads can cook and they might be the primary chef in the family. I reserve the final comment for Mika, a mom, a cook, and a teacher of Grade 1 students: I would give this book 3 stars. It is visually appealing to kids, the recipes were kid-friendly and delicious, and the format was easy to use – with the exception of the fold out pages, and lack of page numbers, which cost the book a star.
Joanne Peters is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory and Homeland of the Métis People.
Mika Shawarsky is a grade one teacher at Joseph Teres School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.