It's a book, it's a blog, it's the most fun you can have in your kitchen.
Cooking with your kids is one of the best ways to ensure they eat a varied and healthful diet. We will be exploring what you and your children can do in the kitchen, with occasional forays to the farmer's market, grocery store, garden and more. Join us and help your children learn a love of food and cooking while creating memories that will stay with them forever.
Having said that, I have to say I love people with strong opinions and a willingness to participate in honest, open discussion; I learn a lot from them. Solid facts, strong opinions, love them both.
What I don't love is when people repeat catch phrases based on opinion (or repetition) as if they were real live non-smooshy facts.
Like "Children born today will have a shorter life span than their parents."
Unless you have been off-planet for the last six months, you have heard this one, I know you have. Unlike many such sound bites, however, this one has a specific genesis: Jamie Oliver's TED speech.
What he actually said was this:
"We, the adults of the last four generations, have blessed our children with the destiny of a shorter lifespan than their own parents. Your child will live a life ten years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we've built around them."
Shorter lifespan? That's some scary stuff. This meme spread like wildfire. Maybe faster. Like wildfire on the Internet! Seriously, it seemed that within hours everyone who works with food, kids, school, or health was repeating it. The line is being used as the rallying cry for a long overdue reform of the school lunch program - a goal I support wholeheartedly.
It's going up over at kitchenMage as soon as I finish up a site redesign that has been giving me fits - though I am triumphant over an errant DIV tag at the moment, so it's a good night.(Note to self: If your RIV is not correctly floated in CSS, it will break. kthxbai) Before that, well there was this thing...er, yeah, more on that elsewhere later. Or not.
On a personal note, I do apologize for being a bit absent from these parts. Life has been rather in my face the last while - four major rounds of hospitals, ERs, surgery, and other assorted fun in the family in the last 18 months. I have plans for regular writing after the 4th of July, you do not want to know what I have planned between now and then. Thanks for your patience with me, the MIA writer.
One of my very favorite places to dine is The Herbfarm Restaurant, which serves a regional, hyper-seasonal - each themed menu lasts but a few weeks - nine-course tasting menu that will set you back a couple hundred bucks a person. Unless you look at the wine list. Do that and all bets are off.
The last thing you might expect to find at the Herbfarm is kids. Yet they do go. (And yes, they behave - aided by Borage and Basil, the resident pigs that can be fed between courses...a welcome distraction in a multi-hour meal.)
Better, some of those kids wrote a detailed review of the Chambers of the Sea dinner a few nights ago. (They are standing at the 'pass' watching half a dozen or so people plate the next course. I know because I have stood there myself, with that same rapt expression on my face.)
Everyone is talking about Jamie
Oliver's Food Revolution (I am no exception, I've a bit of a rant brewing) but I have found a much more accessible little revolution taking place in our own little corner of the web.
Michelle's approach is a straightforward one that many people would be able to make work in their own school districts. . There have been two meetings so far and there are already changes being made to the food being served at the school. After only two meetings. Take that, Jamie Oliver!
Shortly before Ree's book came out, we chatted in email and I offered to send her a copy of my cookbook. I did and recently she dropped me a note that included some very complimentary words about my book and an offer to send me one of hers. After squeaking just a bit to myself about what she said, I sent a couple of people email saying, "Look! It's the food blog version of Oprah saying: Great book! How cool is that?" someoneElse sent mail agreeing that it was a very cool thing and then, ever the supportive partner, asked, "Can you quote her?"
Who doesn't love a bake sale? I know that I am a soft touch for kids bearing homemade goodies. All those brownies, cookies, cakes, even marshmallows...and calories. Well, you knew there had to be a downside, didn't you?
But what if you could buy all those tempting treats and not eat a calorie? Better, what if the money went for a good cause?
The virtual bake sale is simple. Just go to What's Cooking and click on the Donate button. You will be taken to First Giving, which is handling the donations. All proceeds go to Red Cross for their rescue efforts in Haiti.
Then go make yourself something sweet to munch. I'd share my marshmallows, but they are really hard to squish through the tubes of the Internet.
This delightful tree is simple to make, and the kids will love rolling the balls of dough and making the tree shape with them. Instructions, and my quick spicy adaptation for any sweet roll recipe over at kitchenMage: How-to shape Christmas tree bread
Shopping online is a wonderful thing. I know I can while away hours of a rainy afternoon curled up with a steaming mug of tea, the web, and a PayPal account. Bookstores are particularly well-suited to online purchasing; no brick and mortar store can hold what a virtual storefront can - something that is true for both small bookstore and behemoth alike.
One of the things I really miss, though, is the ability to slip cool pages between my fingers, getting the feel of a book. Indexes draw me first - how weird is that? - I look up a few key things that give me an idea of the tone and intended audience of a book. If it is a kid's cookbook, I look for pizza: Is there a crust recipe or simply an instruction to split an English muffin? (Don't get me wrong, I love English muffins. Yet the resemblance between them and pizza crust is nominal, at least it should be.) Another key point is the ratio of sweet to savory. Books dedicated to sweet treats are great, but if a general cookbook is half sugar-laden concoctions, it gives me pause.
From there, I move on to the Table of Contents to see how the author organized the book. How many pages are devoted to a given topic? What are the key points being covered? (I never gave the TOC of a book much thought beyond the obvious until we wrote the first edition of Understanding Directory Services (2nd Edition) Every person who read the proposal praised the 'parallelism' of the TOC. After a half dozen people did so, I started reading TOCs. At least I know who to blame for this particular obsession.)
Photographs matter in cookbooks, too. I really like books that have photos of most, or all, recipes. When I was contemplating writing a cookbook, this issue loomed large. Photographs are expensive to print and publishers are loathe to do a book full of them. Fortunately for me, I snagged a spot in a photo-heavy series, allowing me to do step-by-step photos of each recipe. (Sort of like Pioneer Woman, but with only a handful of photos per recipe...less butter...nutritional information for each recipe. No cows. Definitely no cows. There are cute punks, though. Lots of them.)
I must confess, I also read Acknowledgments. Sometimes I read them first. This one is simple: having written a number of books, I realize that any book is teamwork; I like to see the team get its props. Agents, editors, production teams, graphic artists, and that all important indexer are a good start, but how about the people who kept them fed and in clean clothes while the book absorbed their life? If the book is by a blogger, did they acknowledge their peers and fans? (No person is an island seems more true for bloggers than many folks. If your book bears your blog's name, you had a lot of people who helped you make the deal; they are called readers. Tell them thanks.) Peter Reinhart is really good at this as I discovered one day when I searched for my name at Amazon and discovered it in two of his books. I was a recipe tester, but figured I was one of a couple hundred, far too many to list.
This is all a long way of saying that, while I can't slide a book through the tubes of the Internet to let you turn the pages for yourself, I can give you a peek at my Table of Contents. I hope it gives you a bit of a clue about what I was going after with the book. More importantly, it has the complete list of recipes. (I also put links to a few reviews after the TOC, just in case it piques your interest.)