Adventures in a Storybook Kitchen

How excited am I that kids storybooks double as cookbooks?  Tell you it’s a win for my little man and a win for his mama.  Ketan loves his books and now I can bring them to life in the kitchen. I had to jump on it. Recipes were hit and miss, so let me replay some of the hits for you.

Three storybooks, three recipes.

The first storybook called How to feed a Hungry Giant by Caitlin Friedman, has colorful illustrations, pop-ups and pull outs; lead character a boy named Oscar and one very hungry Giant.  Book includes a recipe for every morsel the Giant eats along his journey. One nostalgia recipe includes the giant-size chocolate chip cookie made popular by cookie retailer Mrs. Fields.

How to feed a hungry giant

We dabbled with the cheese crackers which the Giant couldn’t seem to get enough of.  A cross between a Ritz Cracker and a Cheese-it, but way more moist, with an intense cheddar flavor and it’s all natural—SCORE!  Want to take a look?

cheddar_cheese_crackers_hungry_giant

Rest assured these crackers are tasty for kids and adults. I use these crackers for snacks in Ketan’s packed lunches. Easy.

Hungry Giant Cheddar Cheese Crackers (adapted)

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, plus extra for the baking sheet

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the parchment

2 teaspoons onion powder (original recipe called for garlic powder)

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 egg white lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine the butter and both cheeses in a food processor, and process until blended. With the motor running slowly add the flour, onion powder and salt through the feed tube and blend thoroughly.

2. Remove the dough from the processor, divide it in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Unwrap the chilled dough and place on a lightly floured counter. Using a rolling-pin, roll the two pieces out until they are 1/4 inch thick. Cut out crackers with a biscuit or cookie cutter.  Gather up scraps of dough, knead them together, roll them out, and cut out more crackers.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment, grease lightly with butter, arrange crackers on it. Prick the tops of the crackers with a fork, and then brush them with the egg white. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

6. Wearing oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use a spatula to transfer the crackers to wire racks. Let them cool completely.

Fanny at Chez Panisse

Next stop down storybook lane, Fanny at Chez Panisse. The beyond cute cookbook that Alice Waters created for her daughter Fanny during the early years at Chez Panisse is a treasure.  This cookbook is a bit more advance in taste, but not necessarily in steps. I embarked on the Pasta with Garlic and Parsley, except I substituted the parsley for spinach. I give big ‘props’ for Fanny’s advanced palate, but I found the parsley had too much punch for my toddler.  Spinach has a very mellow almost non-existent taste in comparison. Once, I made the switch, he gobbled it up.  If your little one loves parsley, by all means stick to the original recipe.

There are many endearing things about this book, but one that was particularly touching was a page titled “My Mom’s Special Rules,” which included going to the market or garden before deciding what to cook; taste, smell, touch, listen and look carefully. All your senses tell you things about food: how to pick it, how to cook it, and how to eat it; look for fruits and vegetables in season–those are always the ones that taste the best and cost the least; always look for food that is organically grown. It is the healthiest for you, and organic farmers take care of the earth for all of us; most of all if you want to make people happy, cook them something good to eat.

Pasta_Garlic_Fanny_Chez_Panisse

Fanny’s Pasta with Garlic and Spinach (adapted)

4 ounces pasta, I used local Community Grains Winter Wheat Shells (yum!)

3 small cloves of garlic

3 to 4 Tbsp. chopped spinach

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

2. Peel and chop the garlic, and chop the spinach.

3. When the water is boiling, add some salt and put in the pasta. When it is nearly cooked, heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan and very gently cook the garlic so it just sizzles, add the spinach to wilt. Be careful not to let it brown.

4. Drain the pasta. Take the sauté pan off the heat and add the pasta. Mix it all together; add some salt and pepper, and mix again. Top with a little parmesan.

Beatrix_Potter_Country_Cookery_Book

Our last stop ended with the Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book, by Margaret Lane.  There are a few recipes you most likely wouldn’t cook like squirrel stew and there are a few you absolutely would.  The pictures are beautiful as well as the story. We tried the Hazelnut Crunch, which made a delicious granola or granola bar. Yum-yum.

Hazelnut Crunch (adapted)

8 oz rolled oats (I used Bob Mills 5 Grain Hot Cereal, to get extra flax and wheat germ goodies)

4 oz unsalted butter

2 oz brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey, I used local Buddha Belly Honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

2 oz chopped hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan. Add the oats, nuts, salt and spices. Press into a small square shallow pan lined with greased parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees until brown (around 20 minutes)

2. Cool slightly cut into squares.

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