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.

My Red Hat / Sometimes Cake

It’s an absolute joy to catch up with some recently published Walker Books picture book treats

My Red Hat
Rachel Stubbs
Walker Books

I’m sure every young child would absolutely love to have a hat such as that in Rachel Stubbs’ meditative story. Said hat is bestowed with love upon a little girl by her grandfather one day.

But this is no ordinary hat, quite the opposite; it has an enchantment all of its own for its possibilities are seemingly without limit.

It might for instance keep you warm and dry, or cool; it can serve as an artist’s subject or a drink container, you can wear it to stand out or blend in…

It’s a holder of dreams, a hider of secrets, a cover for fears; it will take its wearer to the most wonderful places far away

before bringing you right back to snuggle up on Grandfather’s lap.

In keeping with the harmony that exists between Grandfather and young child, there’s a sense of perfect harmony between Rachel Stubbs’ illustrations in her beautifully understated colour palette and her minimal text that leaves so much for readers and listeners to fill in.

Sometimes Cake
Edwina Wyatt and Tamsin Ainslie
Walker Books

Deliciously sweet but never sickly is this treat of a picture book.

It tells what happens when Audrey meets a lion carrying a purple balloon. She asks if it’s his birthday and he replies, “Sometimes, but not today.” Nonetheless, it must be someone’s birthday reasons Audrey and so they celebrate with a song and cheers.

There follow several further encounters between the two. In the next Lion brings a cake and they celebrate both Tuesdays and coconuts (for the icing). They go on to celebrate orange and yellow – Lion sporting a hat.

These celebrations appear to be a regular occurrence but then comes a change: Lion appears sans anything and announces it’s just an ordinary day.

Thereupon Audrey leaves him alone and goes off to set about preparing for a party to celebrate a perfectly ordinary day – only it isn’t for there’s Lion to celebrate and plenty more besides.

A tender reminder of the importance of being in the moment; and that being with a friend is always cause for celebration – something we’ll all endorse as we come out of lockdown. It’s full of warmth and the wonders that simple things can sometimes offer, beautifully expressed by Edwina Wyatt and equally beautifully illustrated in soft watercolours by Tamsin Ainslie.

Snuggle up with little ones and share with cake, especially on Tuesdays.