The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig

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The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Every child should have a copy of this book, as it teaches them to grow and cook their own food. It could set them up for life. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: June 2016
Publisher: Wayland
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0750298193

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I grew up in the immediate post war period. Growing your own vegetables had been a necessity in the war and it was still a habit for those who had a bit of garden, so The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook was a real pleasure for me, as well as a touch of nostalgia. The principle is very simple: show children how to grow their own vegetables and then how to transform them into delicious food. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it might come as a surprise, but it is!

We start with the basics: which parts of the plant do we eat? That might sound obvious, but so far as plants are concerned we eat roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and bulbs. Then there's some straightforward information about how seeds grow, how they reproduce and what they need to grow. There's even some information about making your own compost. The equipment required is very basic and anyone who has a bit of garden is likely to find that most of it, if not all, is already in the garden shed. We then move on to preparing the vegetable patch, sowing seeds and planting out and the regular tasks which are required over the coming weeks. There are even some notes about wildlife in the garden, which are friendly, and which are... not.

Then we move on to the eating bit, starting with why we should eat healthily: I've always found that if you explain to children why they must eat food from certain groups, they're much more amenable to having a go. Of course, if you've grown the food yourself there's rarely any problem! But - first you need to learn how to cook. Once again we start with the basics: the equipment you'll need. I grew up without a blender and still find them an indulgence, but that will be up to you. Once you have everything sorted, we're ready to get started.

At this point the format is very simple: we take a vegetable - let's take the carrot as an example - and learn what you need to do to grow it and what to avoid if you don't want it to go wrong. Sowing and harvesting dates are shown and if you don't have a garden space available there are instructions for growing in containers. Then we have a recipe: this time it's carrot colcannon for four people and it's very tasty. The instructions are clear and there are warnings where something might be difficult or dangerous. (Regular health and safety tips are shown throughout the book - they're all sensible and reasonable.)

Some of the less usual vegetables are included - such as cavolo nero - and all the recipes are simple, tasty and rarely run of the mill. Pea gnocchi will be repeated in this house! Even the lettuce recipe requires some cooking, to make lettuce scoops. My only quibble with the recipes was here as I thought that '4 cans of tuna steak' could have been a little more precise, but that's me being Mistress Picky again. Most of the recipes are for savoury dishes, but there's also a cake and a chocolate drink - and something for everyone's taste.

I loved that boys and girls garden and cook. Boys even wear aprons! Not all the children are white and this gladdened my heart. It's a lovely book: a beautifully-presented hardback which will stand a lot of use and there's even a useful glossary and efficient index. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

We've seen another cookery book for children - Big Meals for Little Hands by Virginie Aladjidi, Caroline Pellissier and Marion Billet, but we think this one is far better. We've also reviewed another gardening book for children - Flowerpot Farm: A First Gardening Activity Book by Lorraine Harrison but once again we think The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook wins hands down.

Booklists.jpg The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig is in the Top Ten Children's Non-Fiction Books of 2016.
Buy The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig at Amazon.com.


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