‘Family Cookbook’ by Annabel Karmel

What is the Book About?

This is a recipe book for parents to use for and with their children depending on age and level of interest in the preparation of food.

The chapters trace the growth of children and their appetites from birth/weaning through to being fully competent at preparing and serving interesting and nourishing food for the family.

The pages are filled with colourful photographs on wipe-clean pages. Interspersed with the photos of food and food preparation are adverts depicting eco-friendly products on the front and back sections. The photographs show food that anyone could make. There is nothing overly contrived or so professional that it almost discourages rather than encourages a busy parent to try.

This is a book that could only fit on the cook book shelves with a bit of a struggle because it has been made big enough for a small child to hold and carry. It is more likely to be folded flat on the work surface or kitchen table whilst the ingredients are sought from various cupboards and mixed to be transformed into the delights that encourage even the most reluctant eaters to try something new.

Including children in the photographs taking an active role in the food preparation will appeal to their peers. It is wonderful to see boys included and not just girls looking delightfully feminine.

The recipes themselves are simple and straightforward. They say what they have to and no more. In a way, this book accepts that it is not every parent’s wish to become a professional chef. To make food that is wholesome and tasty so that your child will eat it and not complain too much is the most ambitious we aspire to be. This book allows for that. Preparation and presentation makes such a difference to a child’s attitude to the food on their plates.

Other chapters address issues of allergies, which are always a concern for families – what to offer that will not aggravate a diagnosed condition or what to offer to avoid any allergic reactions.

Special family times are noted such as Mother’s Day, Easter and so on. There are hints on preparing for picnics and parties where no cooking is involved. It is a book to inspire parents to make that little bit more effort.

If I were being critical – and only in a supportive way for future publications – I would suggest that:

  • There should be a more obvious reflection of children from different cultures and racial backgrounds. The food pays homage to different cultural delights, so why not show children from these backgrounds enjoying the preparation and the taste?
  • Make more of the ‘leftovers’ aspect of working with children and food. The section on home-made junk food was much appreciated.

This is fun book to have in a busy family. It works well. But a word of warning – very few of us will look so serene and well turned out as the author if we use the book. It isn’t that magic!

Karmel, Annabel (2009) Annabel Karmel Family Cookbook Spring 2009

Dennis Publishing

ISBN: 9 781906 372569

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