Cooking Once, Cooking Twice, These Cookbooks Make Cooking Nice!

Oona Baker
May 8, 2009

Favorite Cookbooks for Kids

My daughter went through a phase when she was around 2.5 where she was obsessed with cookbooks. She liked to pour over them constantly, picking out the thing we would cook next, or use the recipes as a jumping-off point for her own concoctions. Instead of looking at picture books before bed, she wanted to take a stack of cookbooks to read under the covers. We picked up a bunch of cookbooks at the Goodwill Bins, yard sales, and on eBay to round out our collection. A few of these books are still getting a lot of use in our house, the rest (like the BettyCrocker Entertaining Manuals from the 1970s) have slowly been snuck out of the house to be re-donated. In fact, we often give copies of these cookbooks as our "go-to" gift for special friend's birthday gifts!

Pretend Soup and other Real Recipes--Mollie Katzen
This cookbook has sweet illustrations that give straight forward directions that are easy for children to read and follow. The numbered pictures present tasks that are easy for children and help to build confidence in the kitchen. It's especially fun to use food that you've grown yourself to cook and bake with, and MollieKatzen makes this process loads of fun! Using simple, healthy foods (no Cool Whip or licorice noses in these recipes) to make Bagel Faces, Carrot Pennies, or Number Salad means your child gains experience cutting, chopping, and measuring. Pretend Soup is thoughtfully written, it doesn't spend a lot of time with zillions of intricate steps (which may lead to your child getting bored and wandering off or Mama weeping when her elaborate marzipan birds don't turn out right) and one cooking project can be completed in a short time.

Look and Cook--Tina Davis
I find myself picking this cookbook up often just to flip through the fun retro illustrations. It claims to be a cookbook for children, but it is a reliable resource for the yummiest chocolate chip cookies EVER! The recipe for strawberry shortcake gets a lot of use in our house too. There is nothing like fresh strawberries and the joy of splattering whipping cream all around the kitchen to satisfy a toddler! Davis' book offers easy, beginner recipes for cooking basics like french toast, blueberry muffins, split pea soup. What I like about this book is that some recipes can be attempted with little adult intervention, and as your child grows, they can move on to the more complicated (and stove-related) tasks. Super whimsical graphics teach table setting and kitchen safety.

Mom and Me Cookbook--Annabel Karmel
DK makes the best in-depth instructional books and this cookbook will keep you and your kiddo busy! Lots of full color photos and step by step instructions make the tasks fail proof. There is a good variety of snacks, main dishes, and desserts (the book is quite heavy on the sweets, but does offer healthy options like smoothies, and freezer pops) Our favorite recipes were the Avocado Fruit Dip and the Fishy Fruit Dip---great projects to incorporate for your turn for snack day at preschool!


Oona Baker is the Portland City Editor for The Savvy Source. You can read more of her work every day at Being Savvy Portland.

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