Kids Cooking Today – No More Open-a-Soup-Can-and-Add-Water!


“We’re The Kids In The Kitchen” from On Top Of Spaghetti by Juice Music. Released: 2008

When I was growing up, I don’t remember my Mom spending long hours with me, teaching me cooking skills and sharing recipes. On occasion, she’d let me help in the kitchen, but “help” usually meant washing and drying dishes, putting them away and sweeping the kitchen floor. I scarcely recall being at my Mom’s elbow, watching her intently, trying to absorb what she was doing. I suspect that, for the most part, I was just under foot. Despite that, I grew up with an appetite for cooking, which I still have.

"Fun to Cook Book" by The Carnation Company, 1955

“Fun to Cook Book” by The Carnation Company, 1955

I do remember, though, getting a copy of “Fun to Cook”, published in 1955 by The Carnation Company, and I still have that slightly worn out cookbook. The good folks at currently feature a blog (Kids in the Kitchen!, June 10, 2014 by Susie) and it inspired me to dig out my old copy of “Fun to Cook Book”. Supposedly, the book is designed for 7 to 9 year olds.

Recipes in the book are pretty simplistic, like “Soup”, using a can of soup, a can of Carnation Evaporated Milk and water. Wow. Awesome.

How to cook "Soup" from "Fun to Cook Book" by The Carnation Company, 1955

How to cook “Soup” from “Fun to Cook Book” by The Carnation Company, 1955

Then there is “Everybody Likes Sandwiches!”, with instructions for making one: place slices of bread side by side, spread with softened butter or margarine, place filling on one side, spread from side to side, place second slice of bread over filling and “…there you have a sandwich!” Of course, toward the end of the book (presumably for the 9 year olds), they venture into mac and cheese, using “quick and easy” cheese sauce (American cheese and Carnation Evaporated Milk).

I also have two other “kids” cookbooks in my collection: “The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook” by Lois Levine, published in 1968, and “A Cookbook for Girls and Boys” by Irma S. Rombauer of “Joy of Cooking” fame. The book was published in 1952.

"A Cookbook for Girls and Boys" by Irma S. Rombauer, 1952

“A Cookbook for Girls and Boys” by Irma S. Rombauer, 1952

Ms. Rombauer doesn’t indicate the age group for her cookbook, other than she believes that “boy or girl, young or old – should know something about food values and balanced meals”. Recipes in her book are diverse and range from “Baked Acorn Squash with Sausage” to “Boiled Zucchini in Sour Cream”. Sections include cooking terms and processes, measurements, utensils, serving, table setting and menus, in addition to many recipes.

The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook” by Lois Levine, was born out of her frustration as a young bride, unable to boil the proverbial pot of water, and who, as a child, grew up in a large household with kitchen help. The author notes that the month prior to her wedding was filled with nightmares about cooking.

"The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook" by Lois Levine, 1968

“The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook” by Lois Levine, 1968

Kids in the kitchen today have the benefit of a huge variety of foodstuffs, both local and global, which my mother didn’t have, when I was growing up. In addition, there are all kinds of whiz-bang appliances within arm’s reach, and billions of recipes as close as turning on your computer or Smart phone. Here are a few kids cookbook titles I found, with a sampling of some of the recipes for today’s aspiring Bobby Flays or Cat Coras:

Kitchen for Kids” by Jennifer Low
(ages 8 and up)
– Paddy Thai Noodles
– Strawberry-Fudge Striped Cake

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen” by Jessica Strand and Tammy Massman-Johnson(ages 8 – 12)
– Long Life Noodles
– Lots of Latkes
– New Years Nuggets

Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook” by Nicola Graimes(ages 4 – 13)
– recipes stress use of whole wheat flour, plain yogurt, honey, oats, etc.

The Everything Kids’ Cookbook” by Sandra Nissenberg(ages 9 and up)
– Chicken Quesadilla with Salsa
– Oven Fried Fish
– Ultimate Peanut Butter-Chocolate Squares

I suppose with so many “instant” foods today, kids probably don’t know how to really cook by imitation. “Heat and serve”, “just add water”, “microwave on high for 5 minutes” aren’t really cooking instructions. On the other hand, culinary arts programs are enjoying immense popularity at the moment, so perhaps there are opportunities there down the road for kids who like to cook!

My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,500. What next? More shelves?
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