Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Better than Pizza

I've mentioned before that my mother had to learn to cook on her own, so she didn't really know how to teach my sister and me what she knew.  She went back to work when we were in junior high, leaving us responsible for making lunch for ourselves and our father.  We took turns following the instructions on whatever recipe card she left us for the day; some of the results were successful, and some of them were not.  We learned the hard way what happens when the heat is too high under the cream of mushroom soup, or too low under the hash brown potatoes.  Poor Dad ate what we put before him and suffered in silence while we came to grips with the culinary arts.  Eventually, though, we could successfully interpret practically any recipe set before us.

A friend of mine grew up under much worse conditions.  Her parents could barely cook and didn't teach her much more than how to order delivery pizza and reheat leftovers in the microwave.  After she married her husband was the family chef; unfortunately, the couple is now separating and my friend and her daughter may be doomed to eat bad takeout until the end of time.  At the risk of possibly insulting her, I bought her an apartment-warming gift this weekend: Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book.

This book is designed to teach children how to cook.  It starts with the basics - how to measure ingredients,  the names of cooking utensils, the meaning of culinary terms, and safety tips.  The recipes seem to have been chosen for ease of preparation and child appeal; they include pancakes, smoothies, sandwiches, tacos, salads and brownies.  The instructions are clearly written and include utensil lists and estimated preparation times.  The pages are also illustrated with clever cartoons and appetizing food photos.

This great little book makes learning to cook look like fun.  It's the book I wish I'd had when I was in junior high.  I hope it will help my friend and her daughter pick up some kitchen survival skills as painlessly as possible.

"Bad cooks - and the utter lack of reason in the kitchen - have delayed human development longest and impaired it most." ~Friedrich Nietzsche


  1. How thoughtful! Hopefully she will be able to see the caring behind the gesture and accept the gift in the spirit in which it was given. I can't imagine trying to subsist on fast food - how would you muster the energy to get through the day if your body was a toxic waste dump? Shudder...
    Off on a bit of a tangent here: what popped into my mind when you mentioned the Introductory Level cookbook was, 'I wonder if they've put out a "Cooking for Dummies" yet?'
    They seem to have a _________ for Dummies for just about everything else.
    However, with a title like that you'd have to be pretty confident that your friend wouldn't take offence. chuckle...

  2. How funny that you should mention Cooking for Dummies! I actually saw a copy at the bookstore and immediately thought, "She'd never forgive me for buying that one!!"