Esme Washburn is a 12-year-old cooking enthusiast. Her sister Calista is a 17-year-old photographer. Together, the two sisters have come up with a delicious book of easy-to-make recipes for kids. These 20 recipes provide a nice variety for a burgeoning chef: there’s a choice of breakfasts, lunches, dinners (called Mains here), appetizers, sides, and desserts, plus two extra recipes for “Back to Basics Bread” and “Popovers That Pop”. There’s something for everyone here, from meat-based dishes to vegetarian fare. Ingredients are easily attained at your local grocery store, and the directions are numbered, step-by-step, and written out in short, simple sentences that allow readers to have the book propped open, ready to follow along with a glance as needed.
The photos are just beautiful. I’m assuming that Esme Washburn, as the cook, plates her food for photos, and does a scrumptious job; Calista Washburn creates lovely foodscapes on pastel dishes, with culinary flourishes like dishcloths, measuring spoons, and fresh foods to add to the visual appeal. The Quintessential Grilled Cheese Sandwich is begging me to take a bite out of it, with its crispy, textured bread and melted cheese sitting on a plate; the Creamiest Mac and Cheese would be the perfect accompaniment to it, with gooey, melty cheese peeking through the wagon wheel pasta. (Yes, I’m a cheese fanatic.)
An introduction provides the important stuff to go over: weights and measurements, safety tips, guidelines for prep and cleanup, and a glossary/cooking techniques section are all here to help get new cooks up and running. Esme writes an introduction before each recipe.
20 Recipes Kids Should Know is a nice addition to a young cook’s bookshelf. There’s no firm minimum age noted here, so I’d say that, as a parent or caregiver, you know when your kids are ready – and require guidance. I’ve got a 15-year-old who I still keep an ear out for, and I’ve got a 7-year-old who I stand at the stove with while he cooks up his own scrambled eggs. (My oldest is 20 and has a pretty firm hand on cooking, but he’s been cooking with me since he was 3.) Bottom line? Use your judgement and err on the side of caution, but encourage them to try some cooking with the Washburn sisters and lend a hand. It’s science!