Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner

I'm so excited to have had the opportunity to review this neat little cookbook. Cherilyn Dahlsten has created more than a cookbook here. She has facilitated a new way of making dinner happen while also providing a way to teach our children to be helpers in the kitchen and prepare them for one day being in their own kitchens.

My daughter has been wanting to start cooking for a while now. I couldn't wait to try out this cookbook because it looked like the perfect material to make that happen. I was not disappointed. I think the strength of this cookbook is its format, even though the recipes we tried were very tasty. Every detail of importance is noted. For instance, every recipe begins with "Wash your hands." Redundant? Anyone with pre-teens and teens knows the answer to that is no. The instructions walk them through each step of the process which gives them the confidence that nothing will be left undone. They are even instructed to throw trash away.

Each recipe has two parts: meal prep and final steps. Whenever baking is required the child is instructed to stop until the parent is home. The book is directed towards children home before parents get in from work, but of course this is easily adaptable for families where a parent is already home. The child could either have the meal prep done and allow the parent to complete the final steps, or complete the entire recipe themselves with a little more supervision in the final stages.

The two recipes we created to share in the review were Spaghetti and Uglies. Both were ground beef recipes. The spaghetti recipe was very similar to our own, so we naturally enjoyed it. The uglies were a big hit.They were fun to make and fun to eat, though I will caution future uglies eaters that the meat gets really hot when cooked in these. We thought our uglies turned out rather pretty, and my daughter suggested that perhaps the name comes from the ugly words one might say when discovering just how hot that meat is.

I was very impressed by this cookbook, and I know we will be using it regularly. I can see that it will help to build my daughter's confidence in the kitchen, and I'm already planning to use the extra pages in the back of the cookbook to lay out some of our favorite meals in this format. We don't have any special dietary needs, but some of the recipes are gluten free or give advice on how to make the dishes gluten free. I believe the author intends to make more recipes available through her personal blog in time.

The only con I would mention is that there is a learning curve. When my daughter was following the recipes, dinner was quite a bit later than we usually eat. That is not the fault of the cookbook, but it is something I will mention as you need to be patient regarding the schedule as they become accustomed to the kitchen. The author gives a great plan for an introductory weekend to introduce them to recipes and kitchen basics. As they develop confidence and skills they will also develop speed.

Although I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it, this review is my own personal opinion. Without any reservation, I can highly recommend this book for any parents of preteens and teens. You can purchase this book at the author's website or through Amazon.com. I will be giving away a free ebook to one reader of my blog, so be sure to leave a comment about the first meal you ever cooked to enter. There is also a rafflecopter below that you can enter to win several prizes.

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I remember chopping vegetables for Cobb Salad in elementary school. My kids are cooking now in 4th, 2nd and kindergarten, but I started them with breakfast.
Missy said…
You made a good point about the learning curve. It does take more time to have the children help make meals, or do it themselves, but it is definitely worth it! Thanks for sharing your review!

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