A couple of generations of children have missed out on real cooking lessons in the UK. Kids might know all about nutrition but there are many people who have never had the chance to learn how to prepare a meal. It’s no wonder that the obesity rate has increased to embarrassing proportions, and that many homes have a microwave at the centre of the food prep zone, used mostly to heat up the take-away or frozen dinner.
If we can encourage children into the kitchen then we are giving them a shot at a healthier future. If we can convince them that cooking is really enjoyable then their enthusiasm will save them money and, later on, make them the most popular students at university. Yes, it is a social activity as well as a practical life skill.
The Minichefs Cookbook is the paper incarnation of the cookery school founded by Claire McAvoy in the Channel Islands. She has taught thousands of children in their school holidays and weekends. Claire emphasises that cooking should be a fun activity as well as educational. Her food is accessible to novice chefs and her dishes are just the ones that children like to eat.
The Minichefs Cookbook has a section for breakfast, lunch and dinner, another for baking, and the final one for party foods. How about a homemade ketchup. This is child-friendly on every count. The finished product will last for up to two weeks in the fridge, thus giving your little darlings plenty of praise opportunity from family and friends, and even from that auntie you don’t often see.
Bugs Bunny Cake is a healthy version of a carrot cake. It contains wholemeal self-raising flour rather than real rabbits, as well as carrots, bananas and walnuts. But my favourite sweet treat from this book is Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Cheesecake. It does indeed have several chocolaty ingredients including chocolate digestive biscuits, coco powder and melted chocolate. You wouldn’t want to eat this every day, although the kids might.
Bread-making is pure magic and always seems to capture young imaginations. Honey Pot Rolls are bread buns baked in terracotta pots. Don’t go trotting off to the shed. You’ll have to buy unused small pots at the garden centre but then you’ll be all set to introduce your children to the wonders of active yeast and rising dough. It still gives me a thrill even though I can hardly even remember the menopause.
The Minichefs Cookbook is a delightful book full of ideas for food for children to prepare and enjoy. This is a godsend not only to parents but also to grandparents who have the joy of looking after younger members of the family on long winter afternoons. Help is at hand. Don’t tell the kids that it’s educational but rather allow them to chop, mix, beat, spread and spill, and convert them to a love of good food.
The Minichefs Cookbook
Author: Claire McAvoy
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018