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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cluelsss in the Kitchen, written by Evelyn Raab. Firefly, 2011. $14.95 ages 12 and up

 "How you ended up with this book is not important. Maybe your parents gave it to you. Maybe you bought it for yourself. Maybe you found it in a ditch. It doesn't matter. The thing is, you have it, and now you have to use it."

Wouldn't it be good if it were that easy? Evelyn Raab does everything she can to make it so. In this new edition she teaches the interested teen how to cook; but, that's not all. She also gives advice on using the gadgets that are available in the kitchen to make life easier, making a grocery list that reflects your new interest in making delicious recipes using real foods, and even making menu plans. What more can you ask?

She does start 'from scratch' and provides some interesting recipe types that are sure to garner eats, Mom food, vegetarian, cooking to impress and dinner for the family.  She writes with humor, simplicity and a belief that teenagers can learn the basics of cooking without too much trouble. There are few processed ingredients and some will certainly become favorites. You might take a look at the chocolate chip cookies as a starting point. YUM! 

She explains:

"They also contain (almost) no processed foods - no cake mixes, no condensed tomato soups, no frozen whipped toppings. You don't need them. Ever. Cooking from scratch is easy and cheap, and always tastes better. That's a fact."

She uses icons to categorize each recipe, letting them help determine the appeal of each recipe included. As well as that, she also uses other details for those who have dietary issues like dairy, egg and gluten allergies. At the beginning, the author offers suggestions for 'cooking absolutely anything'. I love them:

"Read the recipe. Twice.
Assemble everything you need before you start.
Follow the recipe exactly.
Get over disasters.
Know what you like.
Finally, there are no rules."

Perfect advice that will hold novice cooks in good stead. I can almost hear my Mom telling me the same things. And speaking of that, cooking with your teenager is a great way to get some quality time together. It always helps to have help when you are beginning any kind of new project.

 There are two hundred recipes, lots of sage advice for culinary exploits, and you will be better for having used this book. The subtitle says it's for teenagers. Don't you believe it! There is much here worthy of everyone's attention and learning. Besides the cookies, I encourage you to try the Curry Glazed Chicken and the Greek Baked Shrimp with Feta. You won't be sorry!

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