Part Two of an eight-part series.
For years my parents kept a photo of me on their dresser. In the photo, taken when I was just barely old enough to sit upright on my own, I was wearing a cute little frock and Mary Janes, and "reading" a copy of The New Yorker magazine.
I've had my own subscription to The New Yorker since high school, and until just a few years ago, when they stopped publishing this feature regularly, I looked forward to a series of articles every December titled "On and Off the Avenue", which were all about extravagant gift shopping in the swankiest stores in New York City.
Here in The Perfect Pantry, I'm more interested in "On and Off the Kitchen Counter". This week it's gifts for kids who love to cook, like our super-fabulous granddaughter, Sabina, who can read The New Yorker almost all by herself. She is so cool!
Every budding chef needs the proper attire. Happy Chef Uniforms can customize a chef's jacket or apron with your child's name. $19.95 + $3.95 to add one line of embroidery (up to 20 letters). Add a chef's hat, apron or pants.
Check on eBay for great bargains on children's chef jackets, too.
Child-size aprons in holidays prints will brighten any kitchen. All Heart Chefs has some designs for super-closeout prices as low as $2.49. On Etsy.com, Tiny Green Apples features original designs on toddler-size and larger aprons; Suzy M Studio sells an apron set just for boys.
Cookbooks for children
Nobody does illustrated cookbooks for the preschool set better than Mollie Katzen; Salad People and Pretend Soup are two picture books your kids can use without reading a single word.
Young cooks, ages 4-8, will be able to manage Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes, by Dorothy R. Bates; Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids, by Rachael Ray; Williams-Sonoma Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food, by Stephanie Rosenbaum; and What’s Cooking? A Ratatouille Cookbook for Kids.
For ages 8-12, the time when kids really get serious about learning how to cook, I like two pictorial Dorling Kindersley books by Angela Wilkes: The Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook, and Children’s Step-by-Step Cookbook. The whole family will love the Spatulatta Cookbook, by Isabella Gerasole and Olivia Gerasole. Our vegetarian granddaughters just might find The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook, by Judi Gilles and Jennifer Glossop, and The Great Big Veg Challenge by fellow food blogger Charlotte Hume under a tree next month.
I sent to my teen friends Nagisa and Misaki, who live in Japan, a set of measuring cups and spoons, and two books by two sisters and their mom: Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat, and Teens Cook Dessert, by Megan, Jill and Judi Carle.
You can find more recommended cookbooks for kids on The Daily Tiffin.
Nothing will ever top the Easy Bake Oven I got when I was 10 years old -- except the new and improved Easy Bake Oven, selling for $19.77 on Amazon.com. Be sure to buy some extra cake refills, or cinnamon bun mix.
A set of five small-size bamboo mixing spoons and fork is $18.00 at Branch, which sells a wide range of sustainably produced items. Williams-Sonoma carries child-size silicone tongs that look just like carrots ($12.95), and a snazzy red silicone whisk for $15.
Children will have fun with a gingerbread house kit ($22.95) from Dancing Deer, a Boston company that donates 35% of the purchase price to help homeless families find jobs and homes, or a pretzel-making kit ($29.95) from Eatgourmet.com.
Membership in the Kids Cooking Club, for children ages 3 to early teen, delivers a new cooking project right to your door each month. Menus include fondue, pizza, breakfast, picnics, and seasonal menus, with an emphasis on healthy eating, nutrition, and fun for the whole family. $19.95 per month includes nonperishable foods, recipes, and more.
[Next Tuesday: Treasures from travels near and far]
[Last week: Think outside the box]
Green bean sesame sauce toss
Sabina added Gadgetology: Kitchen Fun with Your Kids, Using 35 Cooking Gadgets for Simple Recipes, Crafts, Games and Experiments, by Pam Abram, to my cookbook library. We had fun making the watermelon basket filled with fruit salad last summer. This recipe from the book serves 4-6.
4 Tbsp white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 lb fresh or frozen green beans, cooked and cooled
Pour the sesame seeds into a dry frying pan and roast over high heat until they start to pop, turn color, and give off a nutty aroma, 3-5 minutes. Allow to cool, then put the sesame seeds in a mortar and grind them with the pestle. Push hard! When the seeds resemble a rough paste, transfer them to a small mixing bowl or cup. It's fine if there are some whole seeds left.
Stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar, and mix well. Toss the sauce with the green beans and serve right away.
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