Summary: This is an attractive cookbook with bright colors, a funny funky font that is mostly still readable, and pretty illustrations. Most recipes are two page spreads. The left page is filled with pictures of the tools and ingredients needed. An adult cook would find both the pictures and the tools distracting from the identification of ingredients, but a child would likely get a kick out of that presentation. The right page has the recipe instructions and often an illustration of children or a family enjoying the results.
Thoughts: Okay, I admit it, I got this from the library just to have an excuse to write about the Paula Deen kerfuffle. Just in case you missed it, the woman responsible for bringing America fried butter balls and the bacon egg burger between donuts instead of buns (yes, home cooking that might be even worse for you than eating out) admitted to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago and is now hawking a diabetes drug.
I was surprised to discover that I could get a children’s book by Paula Deen from the library. Yay! I don’t even have to read a full adult cookbook to manufacture my excuse to write about this issue. And, then, OMG, Paula Deen is writing books that influence the eating habits of our children?!
As it turns out, Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook wasn’t as horrible as it could be. The breakfast chapter, for example, has nothing that I would want to see a child eating every day. On the other hand, it also has nothing that would be particularly objectionable for a Saturday or Sunday. I’m guessing that most busy families don’t have children cooking breakfast on weekdays anyway. That was true throughout the book — very few recipes for daily consumption and very few that would be difficult to fit into a day or week of reasonably healthful eating.
The biggest problem is the missed opportunity. She includes two pages of safety instructions, plus another on that topic for adult helpers. There’s a page about setting the table and another about good manners. But not a word about the role food choices play in making healthy bodies.
My hero on food issues, Marion Nestle, had a bit to say: Weighing in on Paula Deen. I was surprised to see the American Diabetes Association putting an emphasis on genetics and drugs rather than diet, but Marion Nestle knows the reason why.
My favorite take on the topic came from Erika Nicole Kendall of A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. She wrote Paula Deen, Her Alleged Diabetes, And Why I Can’t Stand Her earlier in the week when the announcement was still a rumor. She’s mostly addressing Deen’s infamous comment that not every one can afford a $58 prime rib, in response to Anthony Bourdain’s criticism. Here’s a teaser bit, but go read it:
It was a pathetic attempt to use classism and manufactured elitism as an excuse for why she pushes the food she does.
I want cooking to save Americans from our own excesses. Paula Deen often does the opposite, using cooking to continue the high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt expectations that we get from fast food and restaurants. Cooking, especially with children, is such a wonderful opportunity to experiment with more complicated flavors and more nutritious ingredients. Sure, there will be failures, but there will also be successes and the next recipe might be the one that gets the picky kid to eat her broccoli.
Appeal: Unless you have a kid who is a Paula Deen fan, I would skip this cookbook and start my search for a children’s cookbook with 12 Great Cookbooks for Kids at grandparents.com. Personally, I think Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup looks like a winner.
Challenges: This is my 2nd book of 2012 for the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.
Stop by Beth Fish Reads today for more Weekend Cooking posts.