Cooking with children: loads of fun! (And quite important too…) Personally, I can’t understand why it isn’t as much a core subject as maths and English. Kitchens in schools, I guess. Oh well.
My mother told me when I was about ten, that if I could read, I could cook. I don’t know that that is entirely true: I can think of recipe books that are pretty hard to follow (well, certainly for me, at any rate!) It’s annoying to have to keep asking someone, ‘what does this mean?’ So, the first thing on our list was to make recipes as easy to follow as possible. Each one was rigorously tested by a team of eight to twelve year olds, and they were pretty brutal in their editorial comments. If they didn’t get it, by golly did they let me know about it!
I think that one of the greatest obstacles to cooking is the notion that a particular recipe is utterly beyond my grasp: ‘No, no, profiteroles are utterly out of my league.’ When I was in my early twenties, I did a cookery course at Ballymaloe in Ireland under the watchful eye of the amazing Darina Allen. The main message that I came away with was, ‘Yes, you can do this!’ Thank you, Darina! So, the Mr Glue Recipe Book and the thoughts behind it… Confidence and independence. ‘Yes, I can do it.’
The philosophy behind Mr Glue Stories (the reading app for iPad) was to create an enthusiasm for reading, something that made children want to engage with the process, to make it fun. The philosophy behind the cookery book is exactly the same. The aim was to make it fun – there are loads of great illustrations from Jose, as well as a personalised story included – and we hope we have made the recipes as easy as possible for a child to follow on their own.
Clearly, safety in the kitchen is a big deal, so we have suggested that it’s a good idea to have an adult around to help with things that are hot (boiling sugar etc) and heavy (lifting pans out of the oven) but otherwise, everything should be do-able by the child themselves. And then, wow, what pride to be able to bring a dish to the table for a family meal, or to create goodies to enjoy with a cup of tea! Anyway, as always with Mr Glue stuff, we are always delighted to hear about things you feel could or should be added to make it as good as it could possibly be. Do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know your thoughts and ideas.
One of the things that the recipe book aims to do as well, is not to be too prescriptive about things. So, for example, when making homemade lemonade, it’s not about a child just adding the amount of water that it says in the recipe, more about what they like, and how much they want to add. Taste and decide for themselves.
We have made the recipes as manual as possible, to give children an idea of the feel of what it is that they are cooking. For the bread, we could have said, bung it in the machine and let the dough hook do the work, or stick these ingredients into the magi-mix and press the button – hey presto. But certainly at the beginning, do it by hand, just to feel it. (Also, it is quite fun getting all mucky!)
Nearly there on the printing – am dying to see it all ready to go. Must curb impatience! Will keep you posted!