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.