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29 March 2010

C is for Cooking

C is for Cooking

Before Lu was born, I didn't realize that cookbooks are great toddler reading material.

Our friend Matthew, in his book Hungry Monkey, told us that his daughter Iris loved looking at Martha Stewart's Cookies. Eventually, she had all the cookies memorized and could point out each kind: milk-chocolate cookies, hazelnut jam thumbprints, and ginger cheesecake bars. This is a useful sort of skill if Iris ever decides to become a baker. But who says knowing the names of different cookies isn't as important as knowing all the different farm animals? It's sorting and naming and memorizing. And, if she was lucky, Iris might have convinced Matthew to make a homemade cookie or two.

For a few weeks, Lu was besotted by Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook. Filled with vivid photographs for each recipe, this book is useful and beautiful both. Lu likes turning the pages and pointing to the pictures of people cooking. "Dada!" she says, because she knows her dad works in a restaurant. She points out cauliflower cheese and chopped cilantro and braised cabbage and asks for the names. She is particularly fascinated by the page with small photos of fixings for good salads: fresh basil; Belgian endive; toasted pine nuts. That girl is a salad fiend. Put a bowl in front of her and she will chew and chew until that bowl is empty. No wonder she loves that page in the cookbook.

She also loves this Vegetables book, by the lovely Sara Anderson. When we talk about the celery and onions, she nods. After we ate the first rhubarb-strawberry pie of the season, with frozen strawberries and rhubarb from the farm down the street, she pointed at that page with particular energy. "Rhu!!!!" But really, she asks for the book again and again because the potato page means she can ask us to sing The Wiggles' "Hot Potato" to her for the 4,732nd time. (I will be able to sing the Wiggles well into my 80s.)

Now I have to say that Lu is interested in far more than food. She pulls dozens of books from her bookshelf and sits among them, ensconced for 30 minutes and turning the pages. When I pull weeds in the garden, she wanders the yard babbling to herself, then comes over to see the worm wiggling on the palm of my hand. She loves the kids at the playspace, her grandparents, kicking a ball down the hallway, chanting the ABCs with the 10 letters or so that she knows by heart, running, trying to jump, and hugging 3 stuffed animals to her chest. Food is a big part of her life, but only a part.

In fact, I think that food plays a shadow role in Lu's life in comparison to Elmo.

Oh my goodness, she loves Elmo. Sometimes she says his name with this tender longing in the middle of the afternoon, just remembering the morning episode of Sesame Street. In the middle of the night, if she can't sleep, she'll say his name as a comfort against the darkness. Elmo is her first true love.

So when C is for Cooking arrived in the mail, courtesy of Wiley, our little one lost her mind.

(We understand. We love Elmo and Sesame Street too. Watching it with her and talking about what is going on is one of the best parts of our day.)

We had no choice but to cook out of it for the last week.

Jamie Oliver's wild rice salad

There's a lot of talk lately about what children in this country are eating. It's an important conversation, and more voices are joining in. Have you been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on television? Danny and I have watched together, in horror and fascination. When the hard-working lunch ladies in the school he is visiting could not understand why he wanted to give the kids forks and knives for their lunch? I nearly cried. Nuggets, breakfast pizza, chocolate milk hyped up with sugar — this isn't real food.

Have you seen Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project? This blog by a teacher, writing anonymously, chronicles the school lunch she eats every day with the kids. Her photographs are horrifying. Beef patties, tater tots, and ketchup. She wrote recently: "I'm just worn out. I don't want to eat any more school lunches. I've lost the pleasure of eating lunch, the little respite in the middle of the day. I'm tired of the food. I wish I had more control over what I'm eating."

Those lunches look just like the ones I ate in elementary school. Not much has changed. It feels like it has only grown worse.

When did we stop eating real food?

I love cooking with our daughter. She's only 20 months old, so she doesn't participate in much of the actual cooking yet. But when I roasted the red pepper for this wild rice salad, I invited her to put her nose into the paper bag before I closed it up. She smelled for quite awhile, then smiled. "Yummm!" She draws while I weigh flours on the scale. We talk about the food in front of us, the morning behind us. She looks at me with an impish grin and sticks her finger into the food for a taste. (She thinks she's not supposed to. I like playing this game.)

It just seems to me that making food together is one of the best ways to know a kid. It might take more time than popping something in the microwave, but no one remembers that, in the end.

Watching Lu gobble this wild rice salad from C is for Cooking, recipe by Jamie Oliver, made me happy. Roasted red peppers, wild rice, basmati rice, jalapenos (seeds gone), mint, parsley, and basil. It didn't take long to cook. It tasted vibrant. The wild rice still had a chew to it. It's pretty healthy. She didn't care. She ate an entire bowl. Then she pointed to the picture of Elmo with a chef's hat on the cover and asked for more.

baked goods from the Sesame Street cookbook

We're lucky. We have the time to do this every afternoon. That doesn't mean it's easy. There are certainly days when I wouldn't mind putting something in the microwave (even though we don't own one).

Last week, it was nearly 70 degrees outside. Lu and I spent hours in the garden. After I had planted lettuce seeds, I walked toward the hoses to grab some water. Without thinking, I stepped on the hoe leaning against the wall. That's right — I actually did the Three Stooges trick unintentionally. I stepped on the wrong end of the hoe and whacked myself in the head with the handle. I actually saw stars.

When we went inside, Lu and I started a baking project. She found a picture of yogurt in one of her little word books and began her chant: "Yo yo yo yo!" I mixed some of last summer's strawberry jam with plain yogurt and slid the bowl to her. While I worked, I noticed that she kept turning the spoon upside down before it reached her mouth. Quickly, the front of her looked like the Quentin Tarantino of yogurt movies. Bibs can only do so much.

Turning toward her quickly, I tripped a bit. The Cambro full of cornstarch in my hands tripped too and flew across the room. All over the floor, the cupboards, the refrigerator. I found smudges of cornstarch on everything, for days.

It was at this moment that the teething toddler started crying.

For a beat, I really, really wanted a microwave so I wouldn't have to cook dinner.

But I took a breath. Cleaned off the front of the kid. Gave her a big hug, something to gnaw on for her teeth, and her favorite book. I cleaned up the cornstarch (after taking a photo), wiped the yogurt off the counter, and started laughing.

And then I put a sauté pan on the stove. Heated it up, poured in some oil, threw in some spinach and listened to it sizzle. Pulled some tofu out of the refrigerator and seared it in a separate pan. Poured Lu some water, put the food in front of her. Took a deep breath, and then shared dinner with my daughter.

Then I had to sing Hot Potato again.

C is for Cooking made my week of cooking easy. There are a number of books on the market about cooking for children and with children, many great books. (I'd love to know your favorites.) But this is the only one with recipes for dried cherry-toasted almond rice krispie treats, pumpkin muffins with oats (which I turned into banana bread with oats and raisins when I realized we didn't have any pumpkin), and savory waffles with cheddar and provolone.

(All the recipes were easy to convert to gluten-free. I used 5 ounces of flours for every cup of AP flour. There's the secret. You can do it too.)

We don't make kid food in this house. We don't make separate meals for us and another for our daughter. This book was only going to get our recommendation if Elmo's Baby Turkey Burgers worked for our dinner too.

Danny, who loves sour cream, approved of the twice-baked potatoes with yogurt instead. The Mark Bittman recipe for lentil soup — dead simple — made three meals, including homemade pasta with lentils and chicken sausage. We ate well and we ate happy.

Lu looked at the stickers of asparagus and fresh carrots and named off all her favorite characters in the book. (I love that her word for Cookie Monster is "Ahek;gehaAH," imitating the sound of him eating cookies. The Count is "Ah ah ah!" for his little devilish laugh.) She pointed to the foods she wanted to eat and then she ate them for dinner.

I can't wait to cook out of this book with her when she's older, and she can crush up the crackers and crack the eggs. Each recipe has tasks marked for the kids, in age-appropriate fashion. This one will be on our shelves for a long time. It's real food.

And there's Elmo on the cover. Lu would like to say: "Come on. What else do you need?"

p.s. Some of you may have noticed that I stopped using Little Bean in this post. We still call her Little Bean sometimes. She points to herself when we reach the beans in the vegetables book. She's so much her own person now that using her nickname here feels forced, artificial. Hi, Lu!

p.p.s. We're giving away a copy of C is for Cooking. We think you'll like it too. Tell us a story about cooking with your kids, or a memory of cooking with your parents, or how you think we can help more people to start cooking real food.

gluten-free chicken nuggets

Grover's Little and Adorable Chicken Nuggets, Gluten-Free, adapted from
C is for Cooking

The words chicken nugget give me a little shudder. My mind jumps to that fast food place when I was a kid, looking down at fried chicken bits, shriveled into themselves, in a paper container. You know the ones. Back then, I thought they were genuinely delicious: hot, salty, greasy. Plus, they came with honey-mustard dipping sauce. Or BBQ. I ate more than my fair share of them as a kid.

Now, however, I can only think: what the heck is in a nugget? As you can probably guess, most fast-food nuggets contain ingredients we can't pronounce and wouldn't eat if they were offered to us on a spoon. But they're familiar. Watching the Jamie Oliver show, I was shocked at how many chicken nuggets a school kid was eating every day. No thanks.

These "chicken nuggets" however are nothing but chicken, mayonnaise, mustard, an egg, salt, pepper, and crushed crackers. You could use homemade mayonnaise (we did) and crush homemade crackers (I have, but not this time). Does that sound complicated? I made up this batch with Lu standing on a chair next to me. While she drew squiggles with her crayons (sometimes on the paper), I sliced up pieces of chicken, dipped them in the mayonnaise mixture, and rolled them around the crackers. While they baked, she and I read Cowboy Small, about 12 more times. Then, it was time to eat.

Making these took maybe ten more minutes than it would to rip open a package and put them in a microwave. I'm pretty certain they tasted better. And the wait meant I heard Lu say "Whoa! Cactus!" again and again.

The next day, I fried up some chicken nuggets instead. I used the same mayonnaise mixture, dredged them in some gluten-free flours, and fried them in an inch of safflower oil. They looked good. Essentially, they were little pieces of fried chicken. Lu, however, wanted nothing to do with them. She took a bite and spit it out. She did this three or four times in a row and I stopped offering. The baked ones she gobbled.

I'm sticking with these.

24 multi-grain gluten-free crackers (I used these and I also love these)
1 pound thin-sliced chicken breast meat
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg white
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 400°. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly grease it.

Crushing the crackers. Put the crackers in a plastic bag. Bash them up, gently, with a rolling pin or your fist. (I bet the kids would like this job.) Put them on a large plate and set aside.
Preparing the chicken breast meat. Cut the breasts into 1 1/2-inch squares, about 1/2 inch thick. (You can decide your own desired thickness, of course.) Season with the salt and pepper.

Coating the chicken. Stir up the mayonnaise, egg white, and mustard in a large bowl. Put the chicken pieces into the mixture and toss them about until they are evenly coated.

Press each piece of chicken into the cracker crumbs, tossing them about a bit until each piece is well coated.
Baking the chicken. Put the chicken nuggets onto the baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is cooked clean through, about 15 minutes. (You'll know the chicken is done when you can cut a nugget in half and see gleaming white meat.)

Feeds 4 to 6, depending on the size of the kid, really.


At 1:10 PM, Blogger Kristi Lou said...

I am having a baby next Tuesday. Not the "natural childbirth" I had planned, as our little girl has to have some surgery soon after birth.
My mom was a good mom, however had no patience in the kitchen, so everything I have learned over the years has been from books, tv, attending classes, etc. I love to cook and can't wait to help our little one learn about where food comes from and try all the things I wasn't allowed to touch. I sure hope she's left-handed like me - it will make teaching knife skills a little easier! I can't wait to see this book!

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Anna said...

Thanks for sharing, the cookbook sounds wonderful and I love hearing about cooking with a little one. I don't really remember cooking when I was very little, but once I could read and use the stove I had a kids cookbook that I loved to use. I learned a lot from my early days of cooking and I'm sure they have influenced the fact that I love to cook and eat good food now.

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Haley said...

I'm so warmed and encouraged by this post. I, too am the mother of a 20 month old girl (I think their birthdays are days from each other!) and know full well how hard it is to come up with meals again and again after sometimes trying days. But because I appreciate good food, the love and energy that goes into it (even when it flops) and how essential safe, clean food is to her health, I always seem to muster the energy to do it. On her cardboard stovetop, she makes alphabet soup with her magnet letters, serves some to our dog never forgetting to add some 'spices', I think we've already instilled the importance of food. And what fun to think of all that is yet to come. Cheers!
PS: She can't stop eating the kale chips. What a fantastic treat!

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Angela S said...

Our kids love being in the kitchen and making homemade noodles with dad. I never even thought about home made noodles before I was married. We ate out of boxes and cans. The husband grew up on homemade breads, ravioli, pastas, desserts, etc. So he's taught me about new foods like tasty brussel sprouts, lima beans, cabbage, and homemade noodles. He's broken me of sugar water (koolaid [poison as he calls it], soda, etc), chef boyardee, and nacho cheese sauce. Our kids won't eat american sliced cheeses, for years turned their noses at store bought sandwich bread and LOVE vegetables. So different from when I grew up. I'm grateful we've been able to teach them differently and most of all that they enjoy it!

At 1:30 PM, Blogger abetterjulie said...

Lovely. Thank you for sharing. I have been unwell recently, and much of the food prep has fallen onto the shoulders of my family. I am happy that they are still fighting for us to eat real food instead of succumbing to the "easy and fast".

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

When i went to school in India, we didn't have school lunches in our private school. That means no cafeteria, no snacks and we didn't even see a pop, much less pop machines, until i was in high school about 15 years ago. We had our local colas, yes, but we got to savor them like once a year. Believe me, even Santa Claus wasn't as big as a cola treat. Now no school lunches meant lunch boxes from home(i didn't know brown bag lunches until i came to the U.S). Mine always had rice or chapati(flat bread), lentils, sauteed dry vegetable, yogurt and a fruit. A boiled egg once a week. A homemade sweet treat occasionally. So my brother and i grew up watching our parents cook, clean and pack lunches for us every day. Every time i admired my mom's patience, she'd simply say, "Don't be silly. Do i admire you for taking shower every day?" Now you can see why i'm not a fan of our office cafeteria. Because cooking at home is a way of life to me. I'm glad that Lucy is growing up with real food.

As for a memory, my mom would make complicated goodies for festivals and celebrations and enlist my brother's and my help. My brother and i would shape the dough into tiny shell-shaped spirals and she'd deep fry them in oil, dunk them in sugar syrup, and leave to dry. We did this every year from when i was a preschooler till we moved out of our parents home. I remember the conversations, the fights, the who-made-the-best-spirals contests, jokes, gossip, politics, oh!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Your story about cooking with Lu is beautiful and brings back so many memories of cooking with my grandparents when I was the same age. My Nanny would cover my hair, wrap an apron around me and lead me step by step through the process of cooking something wonderful and delicious. I remember the range of textures as she taught me about flour and the feel of dough. I remember my Grampy teaching me about the freshness of fish when we went down to the dock for the day's catch or all about proper cuts of meat when we went to the butcher's together. He would also take me through long walks in the woods and teach me about herbs to be found there and the edible plants. Thank you so much for reigniting such beautiful memories for me!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

Our Babe is 3 1/2 and LOVES to help in the kitchen. She is great at crushing crackers. We'll have to try out this recipe.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger M.Y. said...

Love this post! I don't have kids yet... just past being a kid myself at 25 :) But I have fond memories of learning to make pie crust with my mum (yes, "mum" - I'm from Canada) and how great it was for me to make a gf pie crust with the Gluten Free Pantry mix. The flours are so finicky, I sticking with mixes for now for most baked goods. My husband however found an AWESOME gf beer batter recipe online for us though (rice flour) and it was the best I've ever tasted, hands down. Together, we're eating healthier, stocking up on organic foods and he's even open to all the gf stuff I have to eat. Every time I learn something new about how food contributes to or governs out health, we use that information to make healthier choices.
My mum was always pretty healthy, raising me on organic food, lots of fish and free range chicken and eggs (before meats got the organic label). It's also because of me discovering my gluten intolerance that she discovered hers! She's 64 and newly gluten free, and feeling great :)

At 1:38 PM, Blogger M.Y. said...

I have fond memories of learning to make pie crust with my mum when I was little. Now on a gf diet, I was so happy to successfully make a gf pie crust with the Gluten Free Pantry's mix. I'm not up to baking from scratch just yet! Now newly married, my husband also found us a fantastic gf beer batter recipe for fish and chips - hands down the best I've ever tasted!! He's not gf, but doesn't mind accommodating my diet and actually likes a lot of it! Together, we're discovering new, healthier ways to eat that are still yummy. I'm so glad my mum raised me on organic produce and free range (before organic) meats and eggs. She instilled in me a strong sense of the importance of food on our health! Thanks Mum.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be celebrating my 52nd birthday in 12 days and am fortunate to have many good memories of my late father. He was a kid's dream come true kind of dad. But one memory burns brighter than any star in the constellations for me. I loved cooking from an early age and by the time I was 10 I had made enough Jello Instant Pudding to fill a football field. Somehow Daddy sensed I was ready for bigger things. One night after dinner, when I am sure he was exhausted from a long day on the farm, he announced that we were going to make a cheese souffle. Just the two of us. I'll never forget that feeling of not having to share Daddy with the younger sibling. Standing side by side, peering into one of Moma's cookbooks, we found the recipe we wanted and set to work. Probably three hours later and way past bed-time (Daddy had no more experience with souffles than I did ),we served up our cheesy creation to the rest of the family basking in pride and covered in flour. I never make a souffle that I don't think back on that night and hope that I have given my kids some kind of good cooking memory like that.
Cindy Baugh

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Wonderful post today, Shauna. I grew up cooking with our whole family, and I hope that my daughter (currently 15 months old) will develop the same life-long passion. I love having her underfoot when I'm cooking, although having the base for Rick Bayless's Sopa Azteca splattering all over the kitchen yesterday was a little nerve wracking. My wife was laughing at me frantically stirring the pot, trying to keep the splatter to a my undershirt (to save the shirt I had worn to work)...and using my feet to keep little Elly away from the spray of napalm-tomato. But any difficulty is forgotten when I see little Elly-belle eating home-cooked food.

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

Love it!! I am so buying a copy for my friends with kids. I can only hope they return the favor when we finally have ours. Thanks for sharing!

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous meli said...

I have a 4yr old daughter who loves loves loves to cook with me she is a terribly fussy eater and is very reluctant to try new things.I am thankful the food she does like is healthy and blends in well with what the rest of us eat.Cooking with her has allowed for he to become involved and taste as she goes so generally foods that would not be tried at the table are happily sampled in the prcess of cooking with mom.

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Liz B said...

Thank you for this post. It's fun reading about other families in the kitchen. :) My daughters (15 and 13) are a *huge* support in the kitchen. They read labels along with me, and are probably more gung ho than I am about making sure that food is safe and good to eat. What we've noticed in changing our cooking around is that we've completely changed our lifestyle around. We don't go out for fast food (to be honest, I don't even know where a McDonald's is around here, and I don't want to know).

But then it goes even further. My eldest has been sharing she can't stand her school lunches. So, it looks like we'll be cooking yet more on the weekends, preparing things ahead of time so that we can make our own "convenience food" for during the week and to pack into lunches.

Oh, and our microwave? That gets used for melting butter, heating up water, reheating leftovers. No more microwave meals.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Alison aka Baby B said...

It's glad you mentioned your daughter's spoon use, because I find that so interesting! I learned in my infant development class about spoon use and feeding one's self (a fascinating subject for someone who loves food and child development). Turning the spoon upside down before reaching the mouth is really common for her age! She'll be getting the spoon thing down pat around 24 months, though every child is different :).

And I'm just going to say an AMEN to the bit about the non-food found in school lunches. I think we should be able to do better for underprivileged kids, whose families really rely on free or reduced price school lunches, and for any and all kids who buy lunch at school.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

How great is this. I love seeing pictures of Lu and hearing stories about her - esp. since I just had a baby last fall. We're introducing solids, and I think of you & the Chef when I add a bit of cinnamon to his freshly-pureed pears. (He's not so sure about pears... but add some spice, and he's game.) I was particularly touched in one of your Flickr photos when you said that Lu is the only one who plays with the kitchen set's pots & pans - the other tots use the plastic microwave. That says a lot. These are the kinds of things I hope to teach Gavin as he grows up. Embrace ginger. Mush up some avocado and cilantro. Make a mess. (Daddy promises to clean it... heh.)

I'll definitely need to get this cookbook for G. One of my earliest memories of food is cooking a meal for my mom out of a children's cookbook: Hamburgers and baked potatoes. I think it took me two hours. I probably burned the meat. But who cares? Beats whatever came out of my Easy-Bake Oven... ;)

amdawson at austin dot rr dot com

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I loved Sesame Street as a kid. We would make Cookie Monster cut-out cookies from a book we had.

It's interesting to read how much good eating is absent from our society, especially our schools. If only administrators would make the connection between good food and brain power, we might also change our nation's poor test scores.

We garden with our kids and they sure eat a lot of veggies right off the plants! My favorite memory is my three kids, aged 6, 4, and 2 all lined up at cutting boards, with knives (only the 6 yo had a sharp one), helping mama.

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite memory is learning to make baklava with "Gramma Great," my Greek great grandmother. Every year I try to bake some around Christmas with someone who's never made it before.

And then I send them home with ALL of it, much to my husband's dismay.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Just the other day,I was sitting on the beach with my children(2 and 7), enjoying our last full day of spring vacation. I sat back watching my kids play in the sand while glimpsing the silhouettes of razor clammers at the ocean's edge in the distance taking advantage of the afternoon low tide, digging in the sand, collecting their limit of the wet sands fresh bounty to take home. We are lucky to live just a two hour drive from this place. As one of the razor clammers walked passed us with his bag full, he stopped to ask my children if they'd ever seen a razor clam in the shell before. My daughter announced that fresh razor clams were one of her favorite foods to eat..."I just can't get enough of them!" she exclaimed. And as they chit chatted about razors, my mind wandered to family beach weekends. Images of many hands at work (both big and small), cleaning clams, dredging them back and forth in egg wash, then flour, then bread crumbs filled my head...clams sizzling in the hot oil, the squeeze of a fresh lemon and sprinkle of sea salt...the makings of the perfect beach dinner.

Last night my daughter asked to help me make tacos. It simply consisted of helping me put the veggies I had already chopped into serving bowls. She set the table. She was proud of herself. And I was happy to have those few moments to talk to my daughter about her day.

As my kids get older and our schedules become more hectic, I realize that every day is not like these, but I treasure those that can be.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Jules said...

I love eggs. I remember, as a kid, dancing around the house singing the "incredible, edible egg" song, not because it was in my head, but because I meant it. I can't remember a time in my life when I did not like eggs. But my love of eggs, I'm sure, came from my first "real" cooking lesson (that I remember) with my Uncle Ed. My Uncle Ed can cook, and for years as a child I believed he was a genuine chef. I remember him always being in the kitchen, chopping, sautéing, simmering, braising something. And I loved to watch. When I was about seven years old, I was watching him prepare something fascinating with eggs. I was asking him an outlandish amount of questions, I'm sure, and the next thing I knew he said, "Would you like to make an omelet?" Of course I did! I didn't know what an omelet was, but I knew I wanted to make one. Uncle Ed taught me how to crack an egg, whisk it, season it... He taught me how to prepare the ingredients that went into an omelet... He helped me prepare the pan with butter, I poured in the whisked eggs and added all the fillings when he told me I could, and he trusted me (Me! All by myself!) to flip over the edge of the omelet when it was time. From that day forward, I have loved eggs...but even more, I have loved being in the kitchen, learning about cooking, trying new recipes, being adventurous with food. And, while I do not yet have children of my own, I embrace the moments of opportunity to share my love of cooking and baking with my nieces and nephews, teaching them how to roll out and cut dough for gingerbread houses at Christmas, having them help me mash up boiled egg yolks and add ingredients to the bowl for deviled eggs at Thanksgiving, spooning the mixture into the boiled egg white halves. And I watch the look of amazement cross their faces at the amount of independence they're given, when they realize they're doing it all on their own. Eggs are restricted from my diet now, but the joy of cooking is not. As I learn to prepare foods that do good to my body, rather than harm, I look forward to teaching my precious culinary students (my nieces and nephews) the benefits of choosing healthy ingredients that will bring life to their bodies.

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Another great post Shauna!

Although I don't have kiddos of my own yet, I do have nieces and nephew's that I adore. My godson/nephew comes to stay with me often and we love to cook with him. Last summer he realized he DOES like mushrooms after helping making venison stroganoff. He wasn't so sure about the fresh kohlrabi from the garden though. His protest was, "well... none of my friends have to eat kohlrabi"

He didn't think it was too bad. I'm going to share this recipe with my sister (she's gf too) to make for the boys.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I don't have children of my own yet (but hopefully by this time next year!), but it's never too soon to start collecting books for children.

I would hope that our child would have the same love of the kitchen that both my husband and I have.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger mama without instructions said...

Lovely! Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world without a microwave. My 5-year old just told me yesterday that when he was 20 he was going to buy his own microwave. I can't even remember how that came up. I let him stand on a chair and "help" when he could barely walk. He used to stir flours w/a fork and say he was looking for dinosaur bones. Now both of my kids argue over who gets to help cook particularly when the mixer and blender are in use. Sometimes my 3-year old will be picky about something in her bowl but she will eat anything (I mean it, including raw onions and kale) off the cutting board.

The state of school lunches and even kid's menus at generally good restaurants is staggering and so disappointing. I'm so glad this is becoming a more pervasive conversation.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I too watched Jamie on Food Revolution with horror and fascination. I paused in the middle and went through the fridge with my 4 and 2 year old and we identified all the veggies and fruits and even smelled them all. My very picky eater licked a raspberry! Happy Dance!!!
I then prepared black beans, onions, jalepenos, nutritional yeast, tomatoes and fresh cilantro with the help of the littles to stir and chop with butter knives! They smelled and laughed and stirred.
We made a delightful memory that I will cherish forever!
My boys would love C is for Cooking. We are gluten free here too.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Green Acres in the City said...

This so touched me. Cameron our 6 year old has always loved to help me in the kitchen. He has aspbergers and this is an area that he can really concentrate. Last weekend he actually made spaghetti dinner to surprise me. Daddy supervised. I wrote about it at I hope that our little Henry will share the same enthusiasm and want to hang his apron next to Mama's and Cameron's in the kitchen.
We watched food revolution too, amazing!

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

I truly loved this post. I'm 24 and kidless; however, I've been struggling to educate my sister on getting her kids to eat better. I'd come over and cook for the crew if I didn't live halfway across the country. I had her watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last week and she sent me a text saying, "My kids are NEVER eating chicken nuggets again!" It felt like a win!

I remember cooking with my grandma. Now that I'm trying to remember what specifically, I can't. However, I remember watching her hands crack eggs, one tap on the side of the bowl and they'd perfectly fall into the bowl. Thanks again for sharing this!

At 3:35 PM, Blogger katygirl said...

Oh, I would *love* this cookbook. I am a preschool teacher, and try to do a cooking project with my class every week or two. They love helping, but are often reluctant to even taste the fruits of their labor. Last week we made the best vegetable soup I've ever had in my life, and at least half of them wouldn't try it. So I'm thinking a recipe that comes pre-approved by Grover and friends might carry a bit more weight in their estimation.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Erika said...

Bug, whose nickname has now been further shortened from another nickname of "June bug" (he happened to be born in that month), sits on the floor with his tiny little lips rounded just the same as the O-shaped cereal he's munching. He watches the steam blow from the whistling kettle and his eyes meet mine as I ask him if he's ready to make his food. The loud, grinding noise from the blender startles him at first, but finally a smile emerges. The motion stops and he opens his mouth for a bite - fresh off of the spatula - of our creation, green beans with mint. He mashes and swallows and opens his mouth for more. I position him in his chair and Daddy, who has been upstairs after having come home from work, samples the beans and jokingly yet half-seriously asks, "Can we have this for dinner?"

Bug is barely a toddler but some of our best moments together have been in the kitchen with him on my back or at my feet, wooden spoon in hand (or mouth!) I love that we can spend quality time together this way and that he is right there in the action - seeing, tasting, listening, smelling, and touching. I also love that he can see how his food comes to his plate!

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Shelby said...

It is such a temptation to go fast & easy, when chances are it doesn't take much longer for healthy & made at home. I grew up in a family where my mom, my nanny & occasionally my grandma cooked. So many of my happy memories are getting to bake with them. My seven year old son & I try to cook together often. He takes such pride in creating things and I can tell how much more he appreciates the food. We have made nuggets - more so when he was 3 & 4 years old and it seemed to be a staple. Just couldn't bring myself to keep filling him with fast food or even the frozen funk from the store. Our favorites have a corn chip base. Would love to introduce him to more things we could cook up from that book!

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

I will let someone else have a chance at the book, since we're haven't started our family yet, but I have so many fond memories of cooking as a child.

It's funny, because I've met people in my adult life, who congratulate me on knowing how to cook, and ask in a mystified sort of way, "Who taught you to cook?" And my inner response is always, well, my mother did, and I think, didn't your mother or father, or whomever raised you, teach you to cook?

It's kind of crazy to me that these skills aren't being regularly passed down from parents to children. My grandmother used to buy me children's cookbooks, and I had so much fun baking and cooking for my family out of them. I had such a sense of pride to present the family with something I made, but there were also times when I cooked for my family because my mother needed my help with dinner, so it was more of a necessity, but one that I always enjoyed.

I really think cooking is such a basic skill, and can be so beneficial in terms of being able to make healthy eating choices throughout your life, that it should be something parents routinely teach their kids, like learning to tie one's shoe. I really can't wait to have kids and start cooking with them!

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Joy Fasnacht said...

The cookbook looks great! Even though my "baby" just turned 9 a week ago, she and I love to cook together. She was diagnosed with celiac about 3 years ago, right before her 6th birthday, her kindergarten year. Been coming here, and cooking GF for her, ever since. I have too many good memories of time in the kitchen with her to cull through, really, but I think watching her make scrambled eggs for herself the first time, the way she likes them (kind of runny - yuck!), is among the best.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger admin said...

My 3yo daughter loves to help in the kitchen. It's been hard to include her in my cooking because everything ends up taking longer and being messier. However, the joy she gets from helping is definitely worth it. She's gotten to the point where she can help measure out ingredients, and she loves operating the food processor.

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Oh my, a hoe in the head! So sorry, Shauna, it's not funny, but it is...I hope you put some ice on it!

I don't need the cookbook but I'll add my childhood food horror story to the mix:

Hair in the mashed potatoes. Crust on them, too, and on the pudding. Frozen vegetables cooked beyond any nutritive value. Meat that could double as shoe leather. Scary leftovers that were made of whatever was in the refrigerator. If it weren't for cereal, milk and Dannon yogurt, I don't think I would have survived.

My poor mom. Poor in both senses of the word. She did the best she could, but she could not cook to save any of us, let alone herself. Thankfully my grandmothers were excellent cooks, and I made it a personal goal to cook the best darn food I could with the best darn ingredients my hard-earned money could buy.

I wish my mom lived so I could feed her healthy and fresh food, and I could feed her well. She deserved so much better than she got.

I'm none the worse for the bad early food. It sure does make me appreciate what I have now.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Love this post! We would so enjoy that cookbook. My daughter just turned four and one of my favorite cooking stories about her is actually about procuring ingredients. She loves broccoli, so we branched out and started making roasted cauliflower with her last fall. She loves to stand on her Learning Tower and cut small pieces with a cheese spreader. At the last farmer's market of the season she ran over and started jumping up and down, screaming, "Cauliflower! Cauliflower! Cauliflower! Can we get some, Mom?" The farmer could not stop laughing. How many preschoolers freak out about cauliflower?

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

Ah, beloved Elmo. My daughter couldn't sleep without him at that age. At age 20, she is now gf too as I have been these past 6 years.

We made gf fried fish for the first time on Friday: rice flour, then egg, then gf bread crumbs. We had intended to "oven fry", but something had fallen in the bottom on the oven earlier in the day...thought we got it all, but there was so much smoke! So we fried in oil in a pan. The tilapia was delicious, and now I want some fried chicken "nuggets" too. Fortunately, the oven is clean now, so we can oven fry.

Love Jamie Oliver's food Revolution and was horrified at the lunch ladies' attitudes!


At 4:35 PM, Blogger Janice said...

While my parents subscribed to the balanced meal of meat, carb, and veggies plus a glass of milk at every meal I don't remember my mom every teaching me to cook. They both worked full time and I know it was easier to just "get it done" and move on to homework or softball or girl scouts. But now I love to cook, love recipe books and food blogs, and if I had a better palate would be a chef in a heartbeat. My godson who is three makes videos with his mom called "The chef Dylan Show" that they send to me and I know he would love this book!

ps. I can't get the link to the blog by the teacher to work. I am going to be volunteering with a YMCA afterschool/camp to teach the kids how to plant a garden and learn about nutrition and I think this would help me see what I am facing.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember shadowing my mom around in the kitchen, tasting when permitted, stirring when asked, and on one notable day, learning all on my own that plain cinnamon is not in fact sweet at all. My mom spilled some and as she turned to get a dishcloth, I rubbed my finger across the grains and licked it. Blech! That was a learning experience about combining ingredients.
My family's favorite kid's cookbook was the "Alpha Bakery Children's Cookbook put out by Gold Medal Flour. It had a recipe for each letter of the alphabet, and we still use the "Xtra Special Chocolate Celebration Cake" that represents X for most birthdays and special occasions. Loved that cookbook.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Miss Kris said...

My 2.5 year old son helps me cook & bake all the time. C is for Cooking will definitely be one that we'll be adding to our cookbook library.

I, too, watched Jamie Oliver's show last Friday and was fascinated. Growing up, my parents used a lot of frozen and canned vegetables so it's quite possible that I would have been in the same boat as the 6-year-olds that he quizzed. My toddler, however, can name multiple fresh vegetables thanks to weekly trips to the farmer's market and helping me in our small garden. I feel lucky that I have the time to teach him about food and cooking.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger kmdegroot said...

oh man! that looks like a great book. my 3 year old helps me quite a bit in the kitchen, but i would love to get in the habit of her feeling the cook books and menu planning can be hers too (but I guess i don't NEED this book to do that do i?).
I love that "real" cooks designed the recipes. very cool indeed.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

I am a live-in grandma ad my grandson and I cook daily. He's 4 now, and is not dismayed by anything in the kitchen. He can cook 4 complete meals with minimal supervision (he is aware that he's not allowed to turn the stove on - and has never tried. He burned his hand at 19 months at his aunt's house, and remembers that vividly.)
Here's his recipe for roasted chicken - in his words.
First you get a chicken and you give him a bath and take the bits out. Then you dry him off good. Smell the 'pices and see what smells good today, and give him a massage with the 'pices and some oils. Shove some onions and garlics in his butt and a grownup puts him in the oven.
(He is not given the option of the sweet spices when considering what smells good - I'm not fond of cinnamon, etc with meats though I know many people are.) He also can make a tasty omelet, can create a pizza starting with pre-made sauce (which we make) and a glob of dough, and makes a killer chocolate ganache.
He's the 3rd kid I've taught to cook who was young - if I won the lottery I'd teach children to cook professionally. I wrote a curriculum and shopped it around and what I was told by anyone in authority was that I needed between 5 and 15 million dollars per kid in insurance coverage, EVEN if parents were required to stay for class AND signed a waiver - unless of course, I didn't allow them to touch anything like a knife, a stove, or anything else useful.
My grandson isn't allowed sharp knives at this point but there are tons of choppers out there, and a whole lot of things can be dismembered with kitchen shears or a butter knife. It doesn't seem to slow him down any!
I work in a kitchen supply store, and have taught some classes there - and it saddens me when I hear people say that they only cook on special occasions and never cook with their kids!
Cooking is the most important thing you can teach you children besides reading in my opinion - and it opens their world in so many ways! I have never seen a child cook something and not eat it - they're invested in it!
My grandson has quite a collection of cookbooks - and his favorite is the Spatulatta cookbook. My favorite at the moment is The Gastro-kid Cookbook - raising a foodie family in a fast-food world. It makes me happy to know I'm not the only one who feeds her kid real food!

Jeanne in Ohio

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy that you have been calling Lu, Lu. To me it seems easier to sense your amazing love for that little girl :)
I would love to be to cookbook winner as I have been getting the roommates kid as involved in cooking a I possibly can, but a book that is geared to her helping would make things even easier. Perhaps even her Mom would have the patience to cook with her then too!

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Karen said...

My husband and I don't have kids but we love Elmo . . . because our 3 year old niece does. She's crazy about Elmo and Abby Cadabby. But we love to cook with her . . and watch her play with her food that she enjoys so much. She loves fruit the best but was willing recently to go out on a limb and try shrimp and cheese grits. The grilled shrimp had a bit of spice on it which she promptly advised us "made her teeth hot" but the cheese grits were a hit.

I have so many memories of food and my mother as she is a wonderful cook. I grew up much like you did in the late 70s eating a lot of processed food but she made it so good! She slowly branched out to recipes and un-processed food and what a difference it made. Just last night I called her while I was making turkey burgers and asked her if she knew that every time I pattied out burgers I thought of her. She didn't and asked why. It's because I remember vividly the lesson about how the meat must be rolled into a ball and then slowly flattened out with the hand while the thumb forms the perfect thick edges. And I have to do it slowly so as to make it look like a pretty circle!

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never forget my first cookbook - the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook, sometime in the 1980s. I think a well-meaning grandmother gave it to me. Most of the recipes were pretty crappy, to be honest, as they were of the "build a caterpillar out of celery, carrots and marshmallows" variety, busy with things that nobody was actually meant to eat. But there was one recipe that I made successfully, the first thing I had ever cooked by myself from scratch, and that was a muffin (although in truth it was more like a biscuit) that had jam in the center. They were okay but to my grade-school mind they were AWESOME, a culinary triumph surpassing making brownies from a box. And my family ate them and said they were good! It was a rush I would go on to recreate many, many times as an adult.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Jen Yu said...

I'm not entering for the book, I just had to comment. So if you pick my name, pick again :) Wanted to tell you how much I love you, and that little Lu, and that Mr. Danny. There is something particularly warm and comforting when I come here to read your words, but especially in this post. Or maybe it's because I've been away for a while? In any case, I love the way your family loves one another. I cannot wait to see you again, whenever it is, it won't be soon enough. xo

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Samantha said...

I rarely comment but I would LOVE to have this book. I volunteer for an organization called Communities in Schools which is a dropout intervention and prevention program.

I cook once a week with a group of middle-school students who mostly want to learn so they can cook for themselves when their parents have to work the night shift or are too busy with the baby to make dinner. Though I'm not sure I'd tell them it came from a "baby cookbook" I do love finding new recipes to show them.

I am always charmed when I ask, "What should we make next week?" by their simple answers: pancakes, hamburgers, piecrusts, tacos.

They want to be eating great food, and I like to think I'm making it a little easier.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Elaine said...

My dad taught me to bake bread, and I have great memories getting the kitchen all messy, sharing that experience.

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Erika said...

Lovely. We're at the beginning of our exploration of foods with our own darling little girl, 11 months. Tonight's quinoa pasta with broc + salmon was a tremendous hit! We've also chosen to feed her food, not baby food or kid food or grown-up food, but just healthful and delicious food.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Brenda said...

I just blogged on my first (Betty Crocker)cookbook, my grandma gave me when I was 10. It still gets used today, 37 years later. Used less because my cooking is gluten and dairy free, but it's great for those basics.

I cook everything from scratch, almost. I buy Mac's Flakseed Bread and rice or nut crackers.

My kids have always helped me cook. My son, who is 20, used to ask to make potato salad (when he was 5) and then would not eat it. He just wanted the fun of making it!

I wish I could say that I did not make separate food for my daughter. Tonight she had a grilled cheese instead of the meat and potatoes meal her father and I had. She refuses all vegetables. And I know, somehow, it's my fault. She ate great as an infant, and then decided she would not do green at 18 months. It warms my heart that your baby likes salad! She will make an awesome role model for her future picky friends.

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post and of course, great comments! I have a 5 month old who hasn't even started eating solids yet and I think about how we are going to feed him as he grows pretty much every day! This book is going straight to my wish list!

Thank you!


At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Ellie White-Stevens said...

One of the first Christmas gifts I bought my boys were aprons with their names on it. My youngest, who turns 6 on Friday especially likes to help. He asked for a kid cookbook and colored set of silicone muffin cups for his birthday--his only requested gift. When he was about 2, he took my entire flour container, oats and sugar and made cookies all over my flour, counters and chair that he had to stand to reach. Now he and his brother and dad bake wheat free with me.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger gfs said...

This is such a gorgeous post and Little Lu is adorable! My mum cooked all the time and I learnt to read whilst sitting on a big cream and green enamel bread tin in a corner of our kitchen. I wasn't given a cookbook til highschool but my first memories were going through Mum's Australian Womens Weekly Birthday cookbooks to choose my birthday cakes - I had the castle, the dressing table, the barbie - I loved that book and have fond memories of thumbing through it - one day I'll ask her for it for my children to thumb through.

I must say the best childrens cookbook I've seen is my mans cookbook that he lovingly showed me when we moved in together - Mr Men cookbook. Yes - who knew there was a cookbook! It is a good 30 or so years old but it is great to see all our favourtie Mr or Miss and their recipes!

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I am inspired by your experiences including Lu in cooking and gardening! I'm also a mama of a 20 month old. Though it sounds they are of different temperment, Ro does like to help in the kitchen while I cook. (Unfortunately, for now he's a bit too overzealous in the garden to help out with seeds and starts.) Today we made banana date oat bran muffins and he usually "helps" with some part of dinner prep. He really likes to be in charge of the grater and a hunk of cheese, that keeps his interest for a long while (in toddler time). Reading your post has inspired me to include him in more ways and to talk more about the food we eat. I'm really looking forward to harvesting food from our garden together and preparing it together in the kitchen!

At 7:48 PM, Blogger kitchensink said...

Long, long ago, in an effort to encourage myself and my sisters to take an interest in helping with dinner, my mom (an adventurous cook and working woman) introduced us to a game I call: Point & Cook.

Over the past couple years, my 13 year old daughter and I have done several Point & Cook posts on my blog.

The rules are simple...

Pick out a selection of cookbooks.

Close your eyes and choose one.

Then, keeping your eyes closed, fan through its pages and when you feel the time is right...point.

Whatever recipe is there under your finger - is dinner!

This undertaking is not for the weak at heart considering the last time we played, my daughter's finger narrowly missed pointing to a recipe for
"Beef Tongue, Chicken and Rice Ring".

"Ew gross!" she said, "If I'd have pointed to that, we'd have a do-over right, Mom?"

No. No do-overs. You point. You cook. I'm a stickler for rules.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

As a young child I once woke up from a nap to discover that my mom had baked cookies while I was asleep. I was so upset that she hadn't waited for me to help!!

I was very blessed to grow up in a house where we had whole, fresh foods, things were made from scratch. I found out as an adult that my mom HATES cooking (I don't understand this -- I LOVE to cook). She is a fantastic cook, and always put our health ahead of her hatred for cooking!

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

What a fun cookbook! My girls are starting to really enjoy cooking. I'm learning that they eat even better when they help cook the food. (Thankfully they are great eaters to begin with!) This would be another great way to get them involved in cooking!

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Kathy said...

I have a TEETHING TIP for your little bean. Have her chew on a scallion to reduce the discomfort. Slice off the hairy root first. Also, Hyland's teething tabs work very well. Scallions are good for soothing a sore throat, too. I love your blog!

At 8:02 PM, Blogger GFree_Miel said...

This post really makes me want to grow up, get married and have a baby really really quickly so I can teach him or her how to cook (though I guess I'd have to learn how to do it myself first haha). My mother never really let me participate when she was cooking; she has four daughters counting me so I can understand her just wanting us out of her way while she made dinner. Still, it makes me ashamed to not know how to do anything when I'm in a family of such great cooks! So this summer, I've employed my mother in teaching me how to cook. Otherwise, what kind of food blogger would I be?

I'm going to remember this post when I'm teaching my own children. We're going to cook out of your cookbook and have a grand old time. I'll probably trip while holding the cornstarch too. Haha. I can't wait.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous molly said...

Twice the time, three times the mess, four times the joy. This, I decided seven or eight years ago, when I stood my firstborn toddler on a chair, counter-side, is the proper algorithm for cooking with kids. Nearly a decade and three kids later, they all eat differently, some more, some less. But the steady, day in, day out exposure to whole foods has to be sinking in. No nuggets. Lots of crepes. A work in progress. I wouldn't trade a day of it. Though I do wish for a cleaning fairy, every now and again.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Gretchen said...

It is vastly out of print now, but when they get a little older, if you can find it, the _Kids' Kitchen Takeover_ is surprisingly undated. It's a combination of cooking, crafting, and science in and out of the kitchen and it's the first cookbook that I ever truly loved. The first recipe I ever felt I really mastered was the shortbread recipe out of this book. I made fresh pasta back when no one who wasn't Italian did, and the book gave me permission to just cut it up into little pieces if rolling it out thin and cutting noodles was too hard! Something about the approach just worked for me; it wasn't condescending and it invited experimentation and play. Even taking out the gluten-based recipes I think it still has a lot of great material.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Megan said...

The book looks lovely. I added it to my wish list.
This weekend I taught my 7 year old daughter to make her own scrambled eggs. She loves eggs and always begs for me to let her crack them into the bowl so I figured we'd take it a step further. My only job was turning on and off the heat, since she can't safely reach it, and supervising. She made lovely eggs for herself and her brother. I was so proud to see her joyful face enjoying her accomplishment.

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Christina said...

These look great! I've been cooking with my three kids for over 10 years now. We love it! Each year we pick a different type of food to learn about and cook. Last year it was French food, this year it was gluten free food! Now my older kids get out the cookbooks and just go for it. It's been so fun to be a part of it all.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Mindy said...

This story sounds exactly like my 7 year old GF son! He loves to sit and read my cookbooks, bless his heart. My children and I are addicted to every food show there is. My son will tell me if the recipe will work with his special diet substitutions. I love sharing my passion for cooking and baking with my kids.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous paintingpeach said...

I've seen this book around, and been very tempted to get it.
Your post brings to mind something my 16 month old did about a month ago. We have been reading a book together called Eating Your ABC's and he can recognize most of the food he eats (which is a point of pride for me!) and point to each one as I say it. After we finished reading he went directly to his bin of plastic food that he plays with and actually "cooked" me dinner! He set out plates of plastic food for each of us and made me leave the room while he "cooked" (I cheated and peeked around the door at him). He pretended to pour us drinks and cooked with his little pots and pans. He even set his table! He then came running to get me and show me what he had made. I ended up pretending to eat a plastic pickle, crescent roll, egg, broccoli, and a side of alphabet letters. Delicious! Not to mention the dessert course of inside out toddler socks. So tasty!

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Amber said...

I loved Sesame Street as a kid and think the cookbook looks fun! I went to work (I work in a public library) and found to my horror we don't have it yet! I immediately sent a suggestion for purchase in and my friend who lives in another town is getting a copy from her library so I can see it.

I don't have children but I like basic recipes...I'm still learning to cook even though I've been away from home for years. My mom didn't like cooking and growing up in the 70s/80s we ate a lot of processed stuff. We did have a garden usually so I learned about a few vegetables but there are so many things I've never tried. Working on that! Maybe Elmo and Big Bird can help! ;)

At 11:36 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

As a kid, I learned to bake out of a womans weekly cookbook. But what we made was controlled by what mum thought was appropriate, which meant nothing fancy or overly complicated.

Drop biscuits or slices were the mainstay.

A dear friend is pregnant with her first and due in July, this would be excellent for them as their philosophy seems to be similar to yours in the why buy it when you can make it sense.

Oh, and if you think having to sing hot potato constantly is bad, try alternating between a wiggles medley and bob the frickin' builder as the kiddie pieces in an all weekend gig. I wanted to kill someone

At 12:35 AM, Blogger thenewstead6 said...

Ah, Hot Potato... yep, know that song :-)

My earliest "cooking" memory is to do with Christmas. Mum would always get us to stir the Christmas pudding mixture and "make a wish". As we got older, our task was then to cut the glace cherries into bits before they got added to her Christmas cake recipe. Then we progress to creaming the sugar and butter. Gradually, by age 10, we each got to make our own Christmas cake (so we ended up with three each year!).

My youngest, 32 months, is showing a great interest in cooking. I guess he sees me bake, cook, prepare, every day (being gf means lots of home cooking!). This is doing him so much good! He now has his "special step" which is a little stool that allows him to just be tall enough to see the worksurface.

"what are you doing Mummy?" I get asked every few moments. He passes me potatoes and other vegetables as I need them. He measures out the frozen peas. He most recently started trying to peel the potatoes. This interest is currently on hold whilst he investigates the joy of "washing up" (aka splashing around in the bubbles and tiping water from one interesting shaped container into another - and then turning around to show me and in so doing tiping all the water on the floor...) but I'm sure he'll be back!

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Deanna said...

What a sweet story. Your daughter is really very fortunate to have this time with you.

My son (who is now 7) has been cooking and baking with me since he was big enough to climb up on the step stool ladder and reach the counter. From age 2 to age 5 he professed that his greatest dream in life was to grow up and be a "fireman baker" so he could bake all the goodies that the firemen get to eat.

Now I have to coax him to help in the kitchen. He's far too busy with basketball and books, and, when I let him, his little handheld video game. But, sometimes, on a quiet weekend morning, I convince him to come help. He straps on the apron his grandmother made for him and walks up to the counter. ("Mom, I don't need a stool anymore.") And we bake together. I love those moments. Just love them.

At 6:06 AM, Blogger Stargirl said...

I'm due with my first child in a week and I can't really wait until he is old enough to get in the kitchen with me.

I used to have a t-shirt that had the Cookie Monster on it. The shirt also had a recipe for Sugar Cookies that were soooo good. I remember when I was little my grandma or my mom would tell me to go get my cookie shirt on so we could bake cookies. They would read the recipe right from the shirt and I would help them bake.

I hope I can create memories like that for my kids. Thank you for reminding me of that sweet moment and for offering a wonderful cookbook giveaway!

At 6:49 AM, Blogger mc said...

My nearly four-year-old (how did THAT happen?) loves to cook, too. She's up to the egg cracking, stirring and pouring stage now, and it's a ton of fun. I've been saving my Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cookbook - the one with a rainbow sticker inside displaying my name - for her. It's a total blast to watch her page through it, "reading" recipes based on what she sees in the pictures.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger Nowheymama said...

Our dairy-allergic eight-year old loves reading cookbooks and figuring out how to make the recipes safe for her. Her current specialty is Catherine Newman's popover recipe (made with dairy-free margarine and soy milk).

The other kids are most interested in baking desserts. :)

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Midnight Agenda said...

oh goodness, I can remember watching my mother bake bread and make all our dinners from scratch. But my most treasured recipe that we would never have had if it werent for making our own food is one year around my 2nd grade my mother made me a special valentines day sack lunch. I remember it cause we didnt use brown bgs and she had taken the time to buy a heart covered bag and put a valentine in it for me and make me a special lunch with even a dessert enclosed.

I think the years I went to public school she would pop a note into my lunches as a treat but I remember that one and I still have the card even.

You don't even know how excited I am to share these experiences with my children and make similar memories with them.

- Lindsey C.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Bossy Chef said...

I too am a big fan of healthy food for our children, and am a long-time fan of Jamie Oliver.

Reading your blog and cooking experiences with your daughter inspired me to cook with my son who is about the same age (I wouldn't have thought he was old enough on my own). We bake on the weekends now. He loves it, we are in the process of moving away from processed foods as much as possible and need all the ideas for quick meals we can get. Thank you.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man I miss the Sesame Street days - my oldest had this HUGE Elmo thing and I have a little framed picture of Elmo just to bring me a smile remembering those days :)

Thanks again for your talk at the Vashon Food Summit. I had been cutting back on wheat before hand (not eliminated but cutting back) so I started eating it again most everyday (sometimes multiple times a day) and just sent in my request for the blood test - figure I'd had enough time to build up any anti-bodies needed.

Not entirely sure what I want the answer to be - a yes might mean the end of my health problems which would obviously rock! but the whole new way of cooking (that costs more!) has me freaked out - but I know I can do it!

So thanks again :)

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Carol SB said...

Shauna, thank you for the wonderful post. I'm rarely lured out of 'lurking', but... you sure know how to do it!
I have wonderful memories of cooking with my mum as well. As so many of the other people here have mentioned, it's about independence, when you're that little person: allowed to feel capable.
Memories: Mum would put on a fine dinner at least once a month, probably more often. She might invite a family friend: sometimes it was just us. We'd set the dining room table, dress our finest, and have Mantovani playing on the record player. We'd help her cook: stirring dough (The smell of yeast is so evocative of home, don't you think?), cutting ripe peaches, mashing bananas.
With my own kids, 20+ years ago, I did the same. One of our favorites was a scone baked in the shape of a 'monster': the kids would add arms and legs and rows of toes, until the dough was used up. Served with a side of Dennis Lee ("I eat kids yum yum!"). Roast beef, turkey, veggies from the garden, digging potatoes at Grampa's farm to cook and eat before they even know (as I always said) they're done growing. My daughters don't mind dirt under their nails... (or, occasionally, on their carrots- pull one and wipe it on your jeans, crunch!) And now have their own garden patches, when they're able to. Even a little clump of chives is a boon.
I figure memories are the best heirlooms.
-Carol SB

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Rockabirdie said...

Oh my gosh, I want to go buy this cook book for my girlfriend. She's somewhat inept in the kitchen, and eats mostly pre-prepared foods. I'm 6 states away so I can't cook for her every night to make sure she eats well, but if I send her this book, I hope she might!

And come on, it has Elmo. It's Lu approved!

Also, thanks for the GF flour conversion. My girlfriend also eats gluten free and that makes it so much easier!

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Rosita said...

I haven't had time to develop the types of cooking memories with my children as I would have liked. With both my husband and I working, with a long commute, we feel pretty good just getting a home cooked meal on the table every evening. We do try to go to the farmer's market together when it is open (it is seasonal here).

Growing up, we did a lot of baking with my mother. And we had a huge garden and lots of fruit trees. I have lots of memories of preparing fruits and vegetables for feezing, canning and drying.

I pray that one day before our boys get too much older, we will be able to add some activities like that with them.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Laura S. said...

My four-year-old really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. We have to avoid wheat, dairy, and soy, so baking can be a challenge. But some of our recent successes have been banana brownies, oatmeal muffins, and flourless chocolate cake using chickpeas. My daughter loves to help measure the ingredients, stir, and of course sample the finished products.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Kate @ Savour Fare said...

Shauna, thanks so much for this post. I was skeptical of some of the more reality televisionish parts of the Jamie Oliver show, but I actually cried when those kids couldn't identify a tomato. I asked my daughter the next morning "Do you know what a tomato is?" and she said "It's red." What about cauliflower? "White and purple." I have taken my daughter shopping since she was born, at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and the Farmer's Markets. I point out the rhubarb and the romanesco, and although she loves herself some french fries, she will also ask for a stalk of "Spraygus" to nibble on while we cook together. I don't cook dinner every night, but I do most nights, and I hope that I'm teaching her to love and respect food. I'll have to check out that cookbook -- we're big Elmo fans in our house, too.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Liz said...

Thank you for your post today and for reminding me that cooking can be fun again. I cooked with my oldest, now 20 and loved it. When my son was born seven years ago, our family baked and cooked in the kitchen together all of the time-until the food allergies were diagnosed. Five years later another beautiful child with more and new food allergies. One year after that my son was diagnosed with celiac and cooking became overwhelming and stressful to me-and required no longer cooking most of the foods I was raised on and cooked almost all my life so far. I have been doing the basics while my wonder mother in law has taught herself to bake gluten free safe desserts and breads for our family. Reading today reminded me that my two youngest children are still in love with Elmo and that adapting the recipes here and there to be safe for them is for me, not only something I CAN do but something I SHOULD do. Maybe an Elmo recipe here and there would end the food strike and chicken breast jag my 2 year old is currently on and get us back in the kitchen together again. Thanks again.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing to watch kids grow up and learn about food. My 16 year old son was about 8 when Jamie Oliver's School Dinners first aired and while he had previously enjoyed fast food he gave it all up after watching Jamie make chicken nuggets. Today he is a food critic in training and actively convinces me that new recipes should be easy to convert to gluten free - "let's try Mom - you're a great cook so it will be easy." His early introduction to good food made it easy to go gluten free for family meals once I was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

My two youngest (out of 5) cooked with me a lot. Now as adults my sons are creative cooks who do all the cooking in their families as neither of their wives likes to cook. My oldest son is also an excellent cook. My daughters, however, just never had as much interest, and still don't. C is for Cooking would be a great book for my grandkids!equa

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Sally Anderson said...

Our 3 1/2 y.o. granddaughter and her mom were here last week. She LOVES helping cook. She followed her Papa every time he went into the kitchen and we got lots of pictures of them cooking (and she helped clean up, too). She loves to help her mom cook, too. They also eat very healthy meals. I'm so proud of my daughter and how she's raising her! This little girl has been thru a lot lately and I would love to have this book for her. Thanks!

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Emily B said...

My Mom said the other day that she knew I would love putting meals together when I came home from school at the age of six and prepared myself dinner encompassing something from every food group, serving it in on a tray. I've not yet gotten myself to culinary school, but your site makes me question whether or not that is in my future every time I read it. Thanks for the inspiration!

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Teenage Thumb said...

My 6 year old cousin and I cook constantly. After her parents went through a nasty divorce, she and her mother moved in with my family. Her love of cooking first started with an easy bake oven she got for christmas. After the cake and brownie mixes were all used up we got creative. Nachos were thrown in. Pancakes! Beans! Its amazing what that glowing red light can cook. This all progressed into a cooking show. She wore fairy dresses and I helped her make chopped salads. We filmed most of them - I can't wait to bust them out 20 years from now and laugh. Over food of course.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

If I couldn't wait to see Lu before, now I really can't. You are giving her such a gift - something I have not had the patience to do with my own children, I am sad to say. Cooking has always been the thing that I have raced through while my kids napped and we eat meals separately because of Randy's schedule. Some day this will change, I hope. Thank you for such a beautiful glimpse into your life with such an amazing child.

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Jessica! said...

I remember making cookies with my mom. And insisting that I taste the raw ingredients before they went in. Vanilla does not taste as good as it smells! I licked my finger and dipped it in the salt. YUCK! I remember thinking 'why did she let me do that!?'

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This cookbook looks awesome. I'm so irritated after watching Jamie Oliver's new show. I know I submerge myself in food everyday, but I can't believe people really don't understand where he is coming from. My kids know there are packaged foods aimed towards them, but have given up. They know they are only full of crap and real honest food is best. Your Lu knows love from so many angles and I do believe proper food is another way we tell our kids we love them.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous AngAK said...

When visiting my 2 grandkids in Seattle, they wanted to bake something, so I suggested a cookie pizza. They got out their favorite kid's cookbook and made the chocolate chip cookie dough(wearing the aprons I had made them)then pressed it into a pizza shape on a cookie sheet. Out came all the leftover candies/sprinkles/chocolates. the pizza was marked in halves and each of the kids got busy decorating their half. such fun and such serious-ness too! Their Mom is a bit of a perfectionist and wasn't too pleased with the outcome, but I praised them and assured them that their creation was just about the best thing ever. We had such fun being together. Oh, and I live alone, so I love my microwave. I make all kinds of goodness with it.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Zohreh said...

My 1-year old son isn't old enough to help me cook just yet. (He's more interested in going through the cupboards and putting anything he can find into mixing bowls - cars, spoons, a rubber boot...) He LOVES eating though, and I let him try little bits of whatever I'm chopping or cooking as I go. It's fun to see him come back over and over for another bean or piece of tomato or cilantro. By the time the entire meal is prepared, he's thrilled to sit in his highchair and stuff it all into his mouth as quickly as he can. (Sweet boy, just like his mommy!)

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Summer said...

I teach my son about good food by taking him to the farm to pick it himself. We also go to the farmer's market and I let him pick out what he wants to eat. The $8 pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes nearly gave me a heart attack last summer, but it is better than wanting junk food right?
We have also cooked together since he was a baby. He used to sit on the floor or on the counter to stir, but now he is tall enough to stand at the table. He has some definite food objections--mushrooms and eggplant--I think it's the texture, but he also loves Thai food and food from El Salvador and many other countries.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger A and E said...

I have so many fond memories of cooking with my mom. Right now, I'm remembering making sugar cookies with her every Valentine's Day using her grandmother's recipe. I don't have children yet, but I daydream about teaching my children about food and cooking and making lasting memories with them...

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Grace @ Front Porch Yoga said...

Throughout my childhood my Mum and Dad worked very hard to pay for a private school education for us- a much better option than public school where we lived. One of the ways my Mum contributed was by baking for the BINGO every weekend, which took a portion of money off our tuition. I used to stand on a step stool and help her stir the brownie and/or carrot cake batter. After the multiple pans were baked, she would load them into my Dad's green outdoor cart to wheel them over to the school. So many fond memories of baking and cooking with my Mum, but that is the most special one.

As for teaching others about healthy eating, I would suggest taking a peek at the blog "This Is Why You're Thin":

It showcases "inspiring images of the things that make and keep us healthy". Often, there are links to recipes for the yummy dishes as well. YES!

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Rachel Evans said...

"Now. What should we do first." These are the words out of my 3 y.o.'s mouth when we start to cook together. Not so much a question as a statement of purpose. Whether it is cinnamon toast or a loaf of bread, she likes everything about the cooking, the following instructions, the taste-testing, the measuring and pouring, feeling of the ingredients and best of all, the results.

I'm eager to see this C Is for Cooking book! I would love a copy, and might have to buy it if I don't win. Elmo has the same effect on every toddler. He's toddler crack and I wish I knew what Kevin Clash knew about making kids happy because it's obviously working--very well!

At 7:31 AM, Blogger windycitygirl said...

My daughter and I have been cooking together since she learned to stand. I would just take a deep breath and accept that the kitchen would be a covered with flour and that I'd need double the ingredients to account for spills and then let her work away. Since we are both gluten free, I knew that cooking at home is going to be a survival skill for her, not a hobby. Now, at 4, she can crack an egg better than most adults and we sit and watch cooking shows together instead of Dora.

This has turned out to be an amazing hobby as my second pregnancy has gotten higher risk and I can't stand for any period of time, sitting at the table mixing and making cookies (Daddy puts them in the oven for us) has become our time. She loves it and I'm so grateful to have this time with her.

I too have ignored kid's cooking books because the recipes aren't good enough for a four year old that loves beets, leeks, and curry. I can't wait to try out this book! I may let her cook Easter brunch this year!

At 8:18 AM, Blogger kitchensink said...

I am so happy to see that there are lots of people cooking with their kids!

All is not lost!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Julie Reinhardt said...

One of our favorite board book authors is Amy Wilson Sanger. Her book, "A Little Bit of Soul Food", is one I can easily recite, having read it so much. "Ssss. Pop! Daddy's cooking. I hear the oil splatter. Crunchy hot fried chicken makes a tower on our platter." She also wrote First Book of Sushi, Hola Jalapeno, and others. I'm sure Lu would enjoy! J

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Mov 0 To 1 said...

I love cooking with my kids, and fortunately my son loves cooking for me as well. For the longest time his goal in life was to become a cupcake baker. The other day, after we had made the tiramsu roll from Simply-Gluten Free for his birthday, he looks over at me and says "mommy, my favorite thing is cooking with you." What could be better than that?

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Writergrl said...

My 24 month old twin girls say "elmo" in the middle of the night, too. They love to bake scones with raisins ("wayzeens"), especially when I let them stir together the flour, salt, soda and powder. The result looks quite a bit like your cornstarch incident. I just wipe them off as they giggle and adjust down the liquid to approximate the amount of dry that went into the dustpan. Thank you for writing about cooking with your daughter -- your writing is always crisp but these passages are comforting "as apples" to quote Ruth R.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Christa said...

I have to say that I LOVE that there are blogs where I can find healthy, gluten-free recipes! I have candida and it would be hard to find foods I can eat without the help of great bloggers like you. It saves me the time of trial and error, and inspires me to try new things.
My son is two and a half. He loves to pull up a chair and cook with Mommy. He loves Sesame Street! We saw an episode of Dr. Oz where Elmo was a guest and cooked Elmo's Red Veggie Alphabet Soup. So we brought his stuffed Elmo into the kitchen while we made the soup. He got distracted spent the time eating cooked ABC's before I could get them into the soup and playing with the iPod, but I know he had a good time. Elmo came in and sat with us while he gobbled up the soup. Although it's not on my diet, my son and his daddy liked the soup!
I'm loving that my son helps me cook lunch and is learning so much about healthy foods. :)

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Oh fun! Thanks for the recommendation, we need a little cookbook inspiration right now, as they both are obsessed with cooking/mixing etc. with me. We especially love the big cooking with kids cookbook we have with full color illustrations.

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous meg said...

I started cooking with my daughter right away. Early on she was in a sling or wrap and I just talked my way through all I was doing. She is now 27 months old and LOVES to make bread with me. She can tell me what order I put ingredients in and what will be next and has her own special "making bread" dance that she does when the kitchenaid is mixing.
It is a really sweet thing to do with her. It makes a giant mess though and I don't always feel like dealing with it.
It is pretty cute- she knows where all the staples are in the grocery store and can correctly identify most produce.
This was a great post! Thanks!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

My mom is such an amazing cook but she never really had us help her and now I am struggling because of it. My best memory is making articokes!
I also have a 20 month old (7/7/08) and feel like I am just such an awful cook. I try and never do microwave meals or anything like that but things tend to be very simple, eggs, pasta, fruit, steamed veggies and now I just found found out I have hashimoto's and most likely celiac. I am so worried about what our family will eat now, I want to feel better but I'm just not sure how we are going to do it.
I think this book may be a start....I am so grateful that I found your blog. I think many of the recipes are beyond what I can do right now but seeing you talk about what you eat and feed your little one is helpful!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger adnohr said...

I'm new to your blog and this post has me hooked! I have a 19 month old who is a very adventurous eater, but when she doesn't like something, there's no convincing her after the first bite.

I love the way you describe Lu's Elmo-love, it's much the same as my La La. Her first love was The Count (ah ah ah), but now it's Elmo for sure.
I'm going to have to get that book and move the stool into the kitchen.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We borrows C is for Cooking from the library and LOVED these chicken nuggets. We took the book back a couple weeks ago but really wanted to make these again so I'm so happy you had this post. I knew it was a simple recipe, just couldn't remember everything. I think I'll have to buy this one for my collection. The fish sticks are REALLY good, too :)


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