LITTLE KITCHEN: 40 DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE THINGS THAT CHILDREN CAN REALLY MAKE by Sabrina Parrini is a perfect cookbook for summertime, when things are a little less rushed and you have more time to experiment together in the kitchen.
Parrini has compiled a collection of delicious recipes
for real food, not just simple snacks constructed from ready-made items, as
most cookbooks for children have.
Inside, you’ll find recipes for minestrone, potato croquettes,
meatballs, crunchy chicken fingers, perfect potato gnocchi, sticky rosewater
dumplings, mini chocolate soufflés, shortbreads, and more. The recipes are truly delicious, and children
learn real cooking skills with real ingredients. Parrini also includes 2 introductory letters, one
written to the children and one to parents, as well as a “safety first” section
and a rundown of the kind of ingredients and equipment needed for the recipes
in the book. (I recommend you read these introductory letters with your child, as they contain great advice for using the book. Don't be tempted to skip the introduction and move straight to the recipes.)
The recipes were
well-written, with clear instructions that the child could easily follow. The potentially dangerous steps in each
recipe are flagged with the phrase “Ask a grown-up” to remind young children
and parents alike of the importance of adult supervision. This is not, however, a beginner’s cookbook. While nothing is too difficult for a child to
handle (with appropriate adult help), the recipes aren’t necessarily what I
would call “simple.” Parrini warns, in
her introductory letter to parents, that you should “plan to cook when you have
plenty of time,” and she isn’t joking.
Most of these recipes take at least an hour to prepare, in addition to
cooking time, so cooking with children takes patience. (This is what makes it an ideal cookbook for summer time. We tried a few recipes on school nights, and it made for late nights and grumpy mornings, but in the summertime, you don't have such time constraints!)
The time commitment for these recipes is much more than most cooking-with-kids cookbooks. However, in the end, the kids learn real
skills in the kitchen and are better prepared to tackle real recipes on their
own as they grow. It's a great way to learn together and a great activity to fill those summer days when kids say "I'm bored. I have nothing to do."