Books help kids navigate kitchen, get excited about cooking

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For most Central Texas students, the school year is coming to an end. If the young ones in your life are even remotely interested in cooking, maybe this is the year they use some of their down time this summer to gain proficiency in the kitchen.

Here are three books that can act as culinary textbooks to help them come up with ideas and learn the difference between boil and saute and how to safely open an oven without burning off their eyebrows.CookingClassCover  For kid-focused culinary instruction, it doesn’t get much better than Deanna F. Cook’s “Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)” (Storey Publishing, $18.95), a spiral-bound book packed with step-by-step photos showing how to make each of the dishes.

The recipes are ranked in difficulty from one to three spoons, with the one-spoon recipes requiring no knives or application of heat and the three-spoon recipes more suited for cooks who could, for example, cut corn tortillas into triangles and fry them in a little oil in a pan.

The book includes kitchen vocabulary and food safety instructions in the front and stickers, recipe cards and dinner conversation starters in the back. Cook’s approach to teaching how to cook from the printed page is the closest thing you’ll get to take a cooking class without actually taking one.

weheartcookingFor slightly older and more experienced cooks, “We (Heart) Cooking!: Totally Tasty Food for Kids” (Oxmoor House, $21.95) by Lilly and Audrey Andrews and the editors of Cooking Light magazine might be a good fit.

The Andrews twins have appeared on “Good Morning America” and the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” but the recipes for dishes such as zucchini ribbon pasta and portabella mushroom-sweet potato pot pie feel like they are coming mostly from the Cooking Light editors and not the girls. The book features tips on hosting themed parties, setting tables and, most helpfully, how to cut various vegetables, depending on if they have seeds, leaves or stems.

sesame-street-01-600x450Kids between the ages of 2 and 6 are the target demographic for Susan McQuillan’s “Sesame Street Let’s Cook!” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99), whose goal is to find kid-friendly recipes that parents and children can make together. As with other Sesame Street cookbooks, the Muppet characters help sell dishes that kids might not otherwise be inclined to like, such as Cookie Monster’s sausage and zucchini strata or Oscar’s Cream of Any-Old-Thing Leftover Soup. The instructions indicate which steps are suitable for kids to do, but be prepared to do most of the heavy lifting.

Berry Good Smoothies

For a quick, delicious snack, mix up your own smoothies. This recipe calls for frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) and fresh bananas. But you can substitute many other fruits: Try peaches, mangoes or melon.

Put the berries, banana, yogurt and milk in a blender.

Put on the lid, then blend until smooth and purple. It may take a couple of rounds before all the fruit is ground up.

Pour into glasses, add a squirt of whipped cream, and serve with a straw and a paper umbrella for an extra-fancy treat! Makes two smoothies.

— From “Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)” (Storey Publishing, $18.95) by Deanna F. Cook

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