Monday, September 19, 2011
How to Cook, in consultation with Maggie Mayhew. DK, Tourmaline Editions. 2011. $19.99 ages 12 and up
I don't know exactly how she did it, but my daughter found a wonderful man who loves to cook (and cleans the bathroom). To prove just how smart she really is, she married him this summer...not once, but twice. First in Victoria where they live, then in our backyard so that they could share their happiness with friends here. Most nights, Andrew has supper started before Erin gets home from work. It is a lovely thing!
It can be so much fun to cook together. Why not start with friends when you are in your teens? This book is perfectly set up to help interested teens learn the basics of preparing great foods, and then moves them forward to try adaptations that include their own favorite foods and flavors.
There is a short discussion of the food groups, their benefits and bringing balance to the daily diet. Quickly, the book gets right to the 'meat' of the message. Good food can be made quickly and still be healthy and hearty. Soups are the starter...a wide variety with suggestions for crunch, and accompaniments. Salads are up next, beginning with a filling and tasty Salad Nicoise. All the foods in the first section use familiar ingredients, are made quickly and provide nutritious meals for all.
Then, our attention is turned to 'big food':
"Everyone needs to eat one main meal each day to keep them going, so learn how to cook what you like to eat - a warming stew, a big plate of pasta, or a spicy stir-fry. Be sure to make enough. Hungry people appear from nowhere when there are tempting smells and the sounds of activity from the kitchen!"
Maybe it's because it's just before supper when I am writing this; there are numerous recipes that capture my attention. I like the variety, the clear, closeup photographs, the subtle changes suggested if ingredients are not readily available, or don't suit the cook's taste. Presentation is an important component...we all know how much more appealing a meal can be when it is presented in a pleasing way.
As with meals for many, the last section is 'something sweet' and includes everything from a simple fruit salad and smoothies to a more time-consuming profiterole. Lest you think you are done....why not try some baking magic? Rolls, homemade pizza crust, pies, brownies and delicious looking ginger snaps are suggested as a way to ply your hand at the art of baking.
Finally, tricks and tips are described to help make the cooking experience easier and more productive for those wanting to learn some basics. Pictures of a variety of herbs and spices (and their uses) are displayed. A glossary of common terms and an index add to the usefulness of this book for the amateur cook.
Now, there's a way to talk with your teen!