Kitchen Science

Kitchen Science
Laura Minter and Tia Williams
Button Books

This latest book by team Laura and Tia is a collection of science themed activities for children to do that will surely make them think of the kitchen in a different way: the place where a great deal of science happens every time some basic ingredients are mixed together, then baked or cooked in some other way.

The authors present thirty kitchen based STEM activities for youngsters to do, (under adult supervision if they require use of an oven or hob). Safety, as well as the basics needed are covered in the ‘Getting Started pages before the activities, each of which is clearly and concisely set out in illustrated steps, together with a list of ingredients required (most kitchen cupboards will already have the majority) and followed by a paragraph explaining the science involved. There’s also a final glossary of the scientific terms the experiments encompass.

How many children will have thought about generating electricity to light a bulb by means of four lemons, some copper wire and a few crocodile clips? That’s a possibility if you discover you’ve run out of battery power.

Have they tried making a cup cake in a single minute – using a microwave and a tea cup? One of my favourite cafes in Udaipur Rajasthan used to make chocolate ones for us when they’d run out of their other delicious cakes.

Like the previous titles from Laura and Tia, I strongly recommend this one: it’s huge fun as well as gently educational.

Women Who Led The Way

Women Who Led The Way
Mick Manning and Brita Granström
Otter-Barry Books

Herein, team Mike and Brita celebrate 21 inspiring women adventurers and explorers from all over the world, going back as far as the 9th century. Speaking for themselves, these women are exemplars of the huge amount of courage, determination and sheer power their achievements demonstrate against the odds: boundary breakers all for sure.

A new name to me, the first to tell her story is Aud (the deep-minded), daughter of a Viking ruler of the Hebrides, who, after her warrior son was killed in battle, secretly had a ship built and then together with a loyal crew of twenty warriors, captained a voyage of escape and discovery, eventually starting a Christian settlement on an Icelandic hillside.

French woman Jeanne Baret, disguised herself as her beloved husband’s manservant in order to accompany him on a voyage that eventually took them around the world, exploring and collecting specimens of plants, shells and stones for study, retiring to her native France ten years later, after the death of her husband.

Not all the women travelled so far from home though: In the 18th-19th century Caroline Herschel whose vision was damaged by childhood Typhus, became an astronomer who not only discovered eight comets, but was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Astronomical Society, even being elected an Honorary Member.

Some of the others featured will likely be familiar names to readers – adult ones at least. There’s Mary Anning, Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery to become an army scout and political freedom activist, undercover journalist Nellie Bly, Bessie Coleman the first African-American and Native American female to hold a pilot’s licence, Amelia Earhart (first woman pilot to fly the Atlantic), archaeologist Mary Leakey and nature conservationist Jane Goodall.

It’s impossible in a short review to name all those included herein but we meet Barbara Hillary polar explorer;

the first woman to climb to the top of Everest, and the first female amputee to climb both Everest and Mt. Vinson. Wow! “Set your goals high in life and don’t stop until you reach there.” are words spoken by this inspirational mountaineer on the final spread.

Set into many of Brita’s arresting scenes along with the main narrative, are small illustrated fact boxes, some giving dramatic moments in the life of the featured woman, others providing brief details of another one or two who followed in her footsteps.

One can’t help but feel awed by the achievements of every single one of those exceptional women. Adults who want to inspire children, either in school or at home, to reach high and never stop believing in themselves, should make sure they read this book.

Kids Can Bake

Kids Can Bake
illustrated by Esther Coombs
Button Books

Following on from Kids Can Cook comes another colourful book of step-by-step recipes for youngsters (under adult supervision of course). During the past eighteen months and especially during lockdowns lots of people turned to cooking, becoming enthusiastic about it and although we’re not under such restrictions now people’s enthusiasm for home cooking remains high, especially with so many cooking programmes on TV at the moment, so this is a timely publication

After the safety precautions, visual list of equipment and of some basic techniques; the book is divided into sections – Bread, Pizza & savoury snacks, Pies & tarts,

Cookies & other sweet treats, Cakes, cupcakes & muffins, Bars & tray bakes, Desserts and finally, Cake toppings.

There are alluringly illustrated instructions for making such things as soft pretzels and cornbread; many people’s favourite – pizza (choose your own additional toppings) and mini vegetable quiches; apple pie (and variations), cookies (with options for half a dozen different varieties),

as well as Swiss roll and several other family favourites. If your preference is perhaps for brownies or flapjacks, you’ll find recipes for those too. I’m going to try some vegan substitutes for the butter and other dairy ingredients.

With Christmas approaching all too fast, why not buy this for a child now and suggest they dip in and practice that yummy-looking marble cake or even the rainbow cake, so it can be offered instead of the traditional Christmas cake; and some of the other sweet delights such as caramel shortbread would make a good gift for a friend or relation.

My Green Cookbook / Polly Bee Makes Honey

My Green Cookbook
David Atherton, illustrated by Alice Bowsher
Walker Books

Hot on the heels of his excellent My First Cook Book, Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton offers around forty vegetarian recipes. No matter if you’re looking for a tasty meal, snacks, a sweet treat or an attractive cake (several, even), there’s something here.

Like the author, I love walking in the forest and looking up at the trees so was immediately drawn to the yummy-looking Autumn Woodland Cake, though as a vegan, I’d want to make one or two slight tweaks to the ingredients list.

The Curry Korma Bowl too caught my eye right away. Indian food is one of my favourite kinds of cuisine. Having been unable to travel to India since fleeing that country at the start of the pandemic I can’t wait to go back but with all the necessary ingredients for this dish already in my cupboards, this is one of the recipes I’ll try first.

And, having requested a large amount of haldi from an Indian student studying here the last time he returned to the UK, I have lots of turmeric and so next week intend to have a go at making the Bread Crowns – they look really fun and tasty too.

Among the Sweet Treats, I was attracted to the lemon and pear muffins as the young relations who often visit, are fond of muffins of many kinds. We can try making those together. (Maybe we’ll do two batches with me using a vegan egg substitute in one).

David’s enthusiasm shines through in this recipe book wherein he also explains the impact ‘eating green’ can have on health and well-being, and on the environment. With occasional touches of humour, Alice Bowsher’s illustrations add extra allure to the recipes.

Buy to keep and buy to give.

Honey was used in several of David’s recipes, now here’s a book all about that delicious ingredient/food.

Polly Bee Makes Honey
Deborah Chancellor and Julia Groves
Scallywag Press

This is the second book in the Follow My Food series. Here, a girl follows worker bee Polly as she (and her ‘sisters’) work hard first collecting pollen and nectar from various flowers in a meadow

and then taking it back to the hive where the nectar is squirted into the honeycomb and some of the pollen acts as food for the baby bees inside the hive.

During the narration we also meet the drones (Polly’s brothers), the queen (the egg layer) as well as the beekeeper who cares for the hive and harvests the honey,

helped by the girl narrator who is shown happily and appreciatively tucking into a slice of bread spread with delicious honey.

After the main narrative come a ‘pollen trail’ and a factual spread giving further information about bees.

With Deborah’s straightforward narrative and Julia’s bold, bright illustrations, this is a good starting point for youngsters especially if they’re working on a food (or perhaps even minibeast) theme in a foundation stage classroom.

An Autumn Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom /A Winter Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom

An Autumn Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom
A Winter Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom

Angela Ferraro-Fanning and AnneliesDraws
Ivy Kids

With the seasons seemingly accelerated and all overlapping this year, (we’ve been picking blackberries for several weeks already and as I write we’re barely starting September) it’s good to have a pair of nature-centred books that point out to readers the best that each season offers.

The first reminds us that when it comes to harvesting autumn’s bounties, there are edible riches galore – various varieties of apples, pears, pumpkins and corncobs are traditional autumnal offerings. These can be enjoyed not only by we humans, but animals and birds too. It’s good to see youngsters being introduced to the idea of seasonal eating with recipes for such yummy things as pumpkin muffins, as well as apple chips, alongside that of zero-waste. (There’s a spread on using apple/pear cores and peelings, and another on uses for pumpkin seeds.)

It’s great to get children outdoors no matter the time of year so those seasonal gardening and growing projects are one way to encourage that. However those herein can be done even without a garden: herbs for instance, can be grown on a windowsill in city or town.

Crafts too are included: those acorn cap candles reminded me of tiny floating divas; then what about making your own lip balm, or a gratitude tree? Step by step instructions are provided. So too are snippets of seasonal information and there’s a wealth of autumnal illustrations executed in colour pencils by AnneliesDraws. A fun, eco-friendly compilation.

As is A Winter Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom. It’s good to see kale featured as one of winter’s veggies and interestingly I’ve not really considered that citrus fruits are a winter crop, though the author offers plenty of recipes for making edible treats using them, as well as some crafts. More to my taste are the bread making recipe (love the idea of adding spinach juice to the mix) and the three cocoa recipes – now there’s a thought (step-by-step instructions given).

Like the autumn book, woven into the activities are snippets of factual information including an entire spread on wildlife. With darkness coming so early in the day, Winter is my least favourite season: this book certainly suggests a wealth of ways to make the most of what it has to offer.

Green Kids Cook

Green Kids Cook
Jenny Chandler
Pavilion Books

There are plenty of delicious recipes among the fifty plus in Jenny Chandler’s follow up to Cool Kids Cook, to tempt even this vegan reviewer (who doesn’t have children to cook with).

The book has five main sections and they are sandwiched between introductions for both children and adults; there are several pages about safety and at the end are some words about keeping a recipe journal and an index.

From the Breakfast and Brunch recipes I was immediately drawn to the Seeded Oat Bread and am eager to try making some – it sounds yummy.

Although I try not to eat snacks, many of the things made from recipes in that section could easily be eaten at other times too, say as part of a picnic lunch, especially cheese straws (I’d make a few vegan substitutes) and the flatbreads – why not use them for the ‘pod-powered guacamole’ that follows it?
It’s great to see spreads such as that about the importance of eating a variety of different colour vegetables included in that section too, as well as the one providing reasons to cut down on meat consumption.

Mains has a wealth of goodies: I’m really looking forward to cooking the Tomato and coconut dal with spicy greens – just my kind of thing.

The other sections – Soups and Salads, and Sweet Things also have plenty of fabulous recipes. With the bounties of ripening fruits coming soon, the latter will be one to go for; those apple and ginger flapjacks make my mouth water at the very thought of cooking some.

With its emphasis on sustainability, there’s useful advice on food related matters in addition to the recipes all illustrated with photographs. This is definitely a book I’d recommend adding to both family (I know several people who have taken to cooking with their children during the past year) and school bookshelves.

Pie for Breakfast

Pie for Breakfast
Cynthia Cliff
Prestel

This is an attractively illustrated cook book in which the author/illustrator uses the framing device of a little girl who decides to organise a bake sale at her school fair to raise funds for the school library – a cause young Hazel loves as much as she loves baking.

Having enlisted the help of her friends, each of whom is given a double spread, we see various families engaging in creating delicious sounding treats to sell. There are thirteen in all and each recipe is presented on the recto with a full page illustration of the baker(s) on the verso.

It’s great to see that both the characters and the recipes are diverse, so whether you feel tempted by the thought of Anna’s ‘zucchini oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips,

Erin’s ‘easy jam tarts’,

Aubrey and Avery’s ‘mini pineapple trifles’, Zahira and her grandfather’s ‘nankhatai cookies’,

Layla’s ‘basbousa cake’ or perhaps Jamie’s ‘gluten-free carrot cake’, you’ll find it here.

The last spread shows the cake sale in full swing with Hazel and her friends in attendance while the final page has a list of ‘before you begin baking’ instructions.

With my weakness for chocolate, I think I’ll start with Daniel and his family’s vegan chocolate cake.

My First Cook Book

My First Cook Book
David Atherton, illustrated by Rachel Stubbs
Walker Books

I’m far from an expert cook, nor have I really any aspirations so to be as my partner serves up delicious vegetarian dinners every evening. I wasn’t one of the many people who turned to baking during lockdown but nonetheless I was motivated to try some of the exciting recipes in 2019 The Great British Bake Off Winner, David Atherton’s book, aimed primarily at children. David has also been an International Health Advisor and is a fervent believer in the importance of teaching young children about healthy eating.

In My First Cook Book, he presents over forty nutritious recipes organised under four headings: ‘Starting the Day’, ‘Lunches and simple suppers’, ‘Delicious treats’ and ‘Teatime bakes’; and despite its title, this is very much a family book; adult supervision is required for each recipe. The author is an advocate of cooking together as a family and before the recipes, provides an illustrated list of basic kit for cooks, definitions of some terms used, notes on measurement and more.

I’m sure little ones will absolutely love the Banana bear pancakes (so long as they like bananas) – fantastic to see that young spinach leaves are included in the batter mix.

I was especially drawn to the Edible chia bowls that you can fill with whatever you so choose. I’m going to use a plant-based yogurt as the only slight deviation from the ‘live plain yogurt’ suggested in the ingredients.

If you’re thinking of lunch during a walk, why not try the Piggy buns as part of your picnic, filled with something of your family’s choosing. They look almost too cute to consume.

Among the ‘Delicious treats’ are goodies both savoury and sweet including Hummus lion and Energy stars – now they look truly tempting.

From ‘Teatime bakes’ I’m sure few people will be able to resist the Mega-chocolatey cake. I’ll say no more, other than that the recipe given makes 24 servings: what are you waiting for …

I had to laugh at David’s comment about pretending to be a dog as a kid in his Peanut butter bones introduction. It took me back to a reception class I once taught where for the first 2 weeks a little girl insisted she was a dog and crawled everywhere, even down the corridor to the hall for an assembly. The head was less than impressed with me: now these biscuits I’ll make for Farhannah, whom I’ll never forget.

I could go on raving about the recipes herein but I’ll merely say, get hold of his book and tuck in. It’s terrific! Made all the more so thanks to Rachel Stubbs’ fantastic illustrations of both the step-by-step food creation and the families having fun in the processes of cooking and consuming.

Kids Can Cook

Kids Can Cook
illustrated by Esther Coombs
Button Books

During the lockdown period many more people have taken to cooking, be they adults or adults and children together. If you’re looking for an introduction to cooking then this is a good starting point. Similar in style to Plant, Sow, Make & Grow, it’s very visual and really does get down to the basics with techniques such as how to crack an egg, how to beat it and how to test if a cake is cooked.

Before any of that however comes a contents page, a vital page of safety instructions and another showing and listing essential equipment for the recipes included.

The main part of the book has three sections – Breakfasts, snacks and breads; Main meals and sauces, and Sweet treats.

All the recipes are straightforward starting with a list of ingredients, are clearly illustrated and provide step-by-step instructions.

A word of caution however, if you’re a vegan family then some of the recipes won’t work for you unless you adapt them; but in other cases vegan alternatives are suggested. For example in ‘Breakfasts, snacks and breads’ the fruit smoothies,

tofu skewers and the easy-bake bread are definitely suitable

and the veggie sliders in the second section are really tasty. However, no self-respecting Indian cook would tell you they are serving up ‘Curry’ as such – veggie or otherwise.

I have to admit that my favourite section is the ‘Sweet treats’, which includes fruit lollies and scrummy flapjacks (I’d want to use a non-dairy spread instead of the butter though).

If you’re currently home schooling Kids Can Cook ticks a lot of educational boxes: there’s maths in the weighing, measuring and counting; science, and of course, literacy, not forgetting fine motor skills such as pouring, kneading, chopping, whisking, rolling out and more.