April 14, 2008

The Mother-Daughter Cookbook

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Find more about cooking with kids, breakfast

"Mama, let's make breakfast by the book," Grace, 7, says on a Saturday morning.

Weekends are homemade breakfast days in our house. Cereal boxes, microwaves, and toaster pastries are replaced with egg cracking, buttered toast, crispy bacon, and the tune of classic cartoons in the background.

It's usually pretty basic fare, but today we need a recipe to follow since Grace has discovered cookbooks. Our new favorite is THE MOTHER DAUGHTER COOKBOOK: RECIPES TO NOURISH RELATIONSHIPS by Lynette Rohrer Shirk.

I love Shirk's inspiration for the book. "My favorite hours in the kitchen have been spent preparing meals with my daughter, Zelda. But, coordinating our culinary efforts wasn't always easy," she explains. "We were spending more time looking for ingredients and utensils than cooking and spending time together. It occurred to me that as a professional chef, who once managed a large kitchen staff, I should be able to find a better system for cooking in pairs."

So on Saturday Grace and I turn to Shirk's classic recipe, "Eggs in a Frame," and using the simple instructions, Grace and I get cooking together as a team.

For Grace and I, "cooking by the book" has become not only a fun, shared time, but also a throwback to my days in Home Ec class. I've passed on some little gems like never starting the recipe until you've carefully read through the whole thing. We talk about the importance of following directions as well as feeling free to improvise. And the math concepts of fractions suddenly make sense as we measure and divide ingredients.

Shirk has liberally sprinkled her book with interesting lists and facts that add to the cooking fun. Grace and I love her "Diner Slang for Eggs" sidebar -- eggs are sometimes called "cackle fruit" or "hen's fruit," "wreck 'em" means scrambled, and "Adam and Eve on a raft," means two poached eggs on toast.

As Grace "decorates" her framed eggs, she says she'd like to make a toast. I raise my orange juice anticipating a clink of our glasses, but Grace is busy putting slices of bread into the oven to make the other kind of toast. I laugh to myself and think about how there's always something new to learn in the kitchen!

Do you enjoy cooking with your kids? Have you discovered ways to make it easier? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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