Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids

April 18, 2011

Title: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids
Author: Jill O’Connor
Photographer: Leigh Beisch
Best for Age: 5-12
ISBN: 9780811867825
Publisher: Chronicle (2009)
List Price: Spiral-bound, $19.95

Buy on Amazon

When I’m not poring over children’s books, I’m usually pouring out the contents of various mixing bowls into cupcake pans. I absolutely love to bake! So you can just imagine how excited I get about cook books for kids! They are, after all, the intersection of my passion for pastry and my love for children’s literature.

I have very fond memories of the beautiful, 80’s-tastic, cook book you see to your left. My grandparents gave it to my older sister for her birthday in 1990, and it quickly became one of our favorites. Now, Meghan is brilliant and meticulous, and always has been. I, on the other hand, came out of the womb impatient and hungry, and not much has changed. So as I recall, she was the one who actually made most of these treats for us (probably while I perfected my drum solos on the pots and pan), but I remember reading this cook book cover to cover, as though it were a picture book, because I loved the illustrations so much. Our favorite recipes were for the raisin cookies, and for the melted ham and cheese sandwiches.

To take this discussion of culinary arts for kids back a generation further, you will see my mom’s first cook book to your right. Her older sister, my lovely Aunt Chris, gave her this copy of Better Homes and Gardens’ Junior Cook Book: For the Hostess & Host of Tomorrow in 1965.  Now, I have always been quite certain that I was born in the wrong era; therefore, one shouldn’t be surprised that I am completely in love with this cook book. It is so fun to look through! The photos and illustrations alone will make you think you’re in an episode of Mad Men. But most of the recipes are really good too, my sister an I loved to make the “Lime Fizz” when we were younger. My mom pointed out that this was before America got lazy and obsessed with the word “instant.” She showed me another cook book of hers from a few years later that actually included “1 box of yellow cake mix” in a list of ingredients. But this book is definitely dated; for example, my sister and I were always really grossed out by the “salads” in the vegetables section. “Banana-Roll Salad” with lettuce, mayonnaise, canned grapefruit, and walnuts? Or how about the “Peter Rabbit Salad” with lettuce leaves, cloves, canned pear halves, maraschino cherries and marshmallows? Or even the fancy “Pineapple Double Ring,” with lettuce, canned pineapple, and even more maraschino cherries and walnuts? Ya… no thank you…

I am determined to own these piggie containers, if you find them please let me know where!

I say all of this merely to illustrate that having a good kids cook book is a great way to fill time on the weekends or after school, get kids away from the television, and make memories. And if you are looking for a great book of kid-friendly recipes, you can’t go wrong with Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Parents, do not fear, these recipes are not as messy as they advertise. But I should warn readers that this is not a cook book for just kids; young chefs will definitely need help from their parents with these recipes. They aren’t too tricky or advanced by any means, but they certainly require adult supervision.

O’Connor’s recipes for various breakfast, after-school, and party treats are delicious and fun. From “Cinnamon Toast Soldiers with Mostly McIntosh Sauce” to “Banana Montana After-School Cake,” kids will love these fantastic snacks. O’Connor provides not only easy instructions for each of her 30 recipes, but she also gives them silly names that are often borrowed from popular children’s stories. I would have to say my favorite recipe from the book would be the “Quickberry! Quackberry! Blackberry-Apple Crumble” (those familiar with Jamberry, by Bruce Degan, should recognize the name). And if you have some little princesses who love the Pinkalicious books by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann  (despite my rather vocal dislike for the series), you can find a recipe for “Pinkalicious Princess Cupcakes” on page 73. O’Connor also provides parents and blooming chefs with helpful explanations, hints and tricks for common baking problems; for example, according to the author, the key to fail-proof “Ghostly Meringues”  is a VERY cold metal mixing bowl and a little lemon juice.

I think what I love most about this cook book is the quotes from O’Connor’s own kids, nieces, and nephews. For example, she writes that Sam Farnsworth, age 10, said while making meringues, “This is what clouds should taste like.” Or seven-year-old  Emma Galeckas’ wise words: “When I grow up, I want to be a baker and the weather girl.”

Like ALL of the books Chronicle publishes, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids, is beautiful to look at. Chronicle is a very visual and artistic independent publishing house. Which means that they have complete freedom to produce exactly what they want, and what they want to produce are amazingly gorgeous books that are little works of art in and of themselves. This cook book’s lay-flat, spiral binding, is practical and sturdy, but the scalloped pages, recurring use of doily prints, and colorful, floral-fabric-esque graphics make this book positively pretty. Not to mention that Leigh Beisch’s photography will have you drooling all over each page.

So if you are looking for an excuse to get your kid in the kitchen with you, or even just to eat something delicious, pick up a copy of Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids!

Want a more grown-up version? Get O’Connor’s original cook book, simply titled Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.

Looking for a picture book about baking? I can’t say enough good things about This Little Bunny Can Bake, by Janet Stein. It is SO adorable!


One comment

  1. Fantastic review–makes me hungry! I love all those old cookbooks, from before Julia taught Americans how to eat again.

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