Oh, August…

The last day of August is always bittersweet for me, as I’m sure it is for many. It shouldn’t be so monumental, I suppose. It’s just one day to the next. The weather’s usually about the same, the trees are still full and green, and there’s not even anything on the calendar of note, like the Autumnal Equinox, which doesn’t occur until September 23 this year.

trees summerIt somehow is monumental though, saying goodbye to August. School has already started for most kids, and fall isn’t yet in the air, but this day feels more like the end of summer than any other. Even the two words evoke different feelings. August = long, lazy afternoons, corn on the cob and lemonade, late night sunsets. September = crisp new notebooks, leaves curling around the edges, reaching for that jacket for the first time since April.

The end of August invariably makes me think of all the things I planned to do this summer — mostly the things I had high hopes of accomplishing back in June but somehow didn’t get to.

There’s the tall stack of books on my nightstand I vowed to read, plans to take my laptop outside and write whatever came into my mind, and the revision of a WIP I aimed to tackle while my kids were busy with their summer jobs and activities.

Oh, well.

The end of August is always a reflective time for me too. And as I look back, although I may not have read or written or revised as much as I planned, I did something else that’s equally important for writers, kids, teachers…everyone. I gave my brain a much-needed rest. I pondered. I picked blueberries. I spent time with my kids. I walked every day. I observed and listened and took stock. I watched fireflies and scratched mosquito bites and marveled at the beauty of the season.

106This was the summer of M locations for me and my family — we visited Madison, Milwaukee, Michigan, Manhattan, and Montreal.

Since we didn’t have an international data plan and couldn’t (gasp) use Google maps on our phones, my son and I found our way around Montreal with a good, old fashioned multi-folded paper map. I forgot how fun and satisfying that is. He loved it, and so did I.

My younger daughter and I discovered Madison’s best ice cream at The Chocolate Shoppe, where a sign proudly proclaims their ice cream isn’t low fat, low calorie or low anything, and if you want something nutritious, eat carrots. Gotta love that.

My older daughter and I laughed for days about how her flip flop was swallowed up in a deep, muddy patch of blueberry bushes in Michigan. She finished filling her bucket while barefoot, mud squishing between her toes. Instagraming the moment, of course.

So there were things accomplished this summer. Many things. Things that perhaps can’t take place in any other season. And now, as September first arrives tomorrow, I will turn to my reading stack and laptop and WIP, feeling sad that August is over, but re-energized to start anew.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days and Calli Be Gold, both from Wendy Lamb Books. Visit her at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

Cooking for Middle Graders

When my son was 8, he invited a new friend to sleep overnight. As I was passing the kitchen the next morning, I overheard the following conversation:

Bjorn: So do you want pancakes, waffles, or eggs for breakfast?
Friend: Maybe scrambled eggs?
(Sounds of pans clattering, cupboard and refrigerator door opening)
Friend: Hey, what are you doing?
Bjorn: Making you scrambled eggs.
Friend: Umm…don’t you think we better wait for your mom?
Bjorn: Nah. You wouldn’t want her scrambled eggs. I’m a much better cook than she is.

And he was right. As the youngest of 5, he’d learned from the best – his older brother and sisters. Not me. Definitely not me.

So how did I end up with a family of cooks?

I accidentally discovered the secret when my oldest daughter was 3. Having a newborn and a toddler, I was a sleep-deprived mom. One morning I heard Tiffany banging around in the kitchen, but after being up all night with the other two, I was too exhausted to check out the noise. To my surprise, a short while later, my 3-year-old presented me with breakfast in bed, which included slices of French toast.

“Who made these?” I asked, wondering if my husband had stayed home from work.

“I did,” she said with a proud smile. “I watch you do it.”

“You cracked eggs? And–and used the stove?” My voice wasn’t only weak from lack of sleep.

I inspected her head-to-toe for burns, but other than syrupy stickiness on her hands, arms, toes, and hair, she was fine. Then picturing a kitchen fire, I tucked the baby and toddler under each arm and raced for the kitchen. It was a bit messy, but the stove was off. The pot was cooling in the sink. And I realized I’d just found my solution to more sleep in the mornings—teaching my kids to cook.

When they turned 3, they started cooking lessons. By the time they were in kindergarten, they were each responsible for making one dinner a week. They loved it, and so did I. Yes, it meant a messy kitchen and plenty of extra dishes, but by the time they were 8 or 9, they were pros in the kitchen.

So how do you get started if you’re a kid interested in cooking, or if you’re a parent or teacher who wants to cook with kids? Books with pictures and simple recipes are a great first step. If you’re a kid who’s already skilled in the kitchen, you can branch out with recipes from around the world or for specialty foods. And be sure to check out the bonus recipe below.

Oh, and if you want to connect books and cooking, Tami Lewis Brown has a great list of books and recipes to match.

cooking classCooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) 

Deanna F. Cook

This fresh, fun cookbook for kids ages 6 to 12 explains basic cooking techniques in kid-friendly language and offers recipes for making dozens of favorite foods from scratch, including muffins, biscuits, applesauce, fruit leather, goldfish crackers, tortilla chips, Buffalo chicken fingers, pizza, sushi California rolls.

chop chopChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family

by Sally Sampson and Carl Tremblay

Winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Children/Youth/Family category, ChopChop offers nutritious, ethnically diverse, inexpensive dishes.

GrainesKids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook

by Nicola Graimes and Howard Shooter

Large pictures and simple instructions for healthy recipes using ingredients such as whole wheat flour, plain yogurt, honey, oats, and nuts.

jr cookbkBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book

by Better Homes and Gardens

Each recipe includes a photo along with illustrations of characters who tell stories to complement the dishes. Special features cover cooking basics, kitchen safety, menu planning, basic nutrition information, and guidance on reading and understanding food labels.

DKComplete Children’s Cookbook

by DK

The more than 150 recipes are divided into nine themed chapters (Breakfast, Soups and Salads, Light Bites, etc.) illustrated with DK’s usual large, colorful photos as well as easy-to-understand instructions. Also includes information on basic cooking skills such as how to cut safely or how to poach an egg along with some unique recipes not usually found in kids’ cookbooks.

jackTwist It Up: More Than 60 Delicious Recipes from an Inspiring Young Chef

by Jack Witherspoon and Sheri Giblin

Recipes developed by eleven-year-old Jack Witherspoon, who used cooking to raise money for cancer when he was battling leukemia. Clear directions and photographs make it simple to follow these tasty recipes.

intl ckbkThe International Cookbook for Kids

by Matthew Locricchio

Contains recipes from Italy, France, China, and Mexico illustrated with photos and pictures. Plan a taco party or make recipes from appetizers to desserts. Some of these recipes are more complicated, but will appeal to those who enjoy trying different foods.

mayoThe Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook: 50 Favorite Recipes for Fun and Healthy Eating

by Mayo Clinic

This spiral-bound cookbook is easy to keep open while you cook. Because it’s from the Mayo Clinic, it emphasizes healthy recipes using vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. This cookbook offers clear directions and tips on how to prepare the raw ingredients.

veganEasy Vegetarian Foods From Around The World

by Sheila Griffin Llanas

For vegetarian cooks, Sheila Griffin Llanas includes a dozen recipes from Russian cabbage pie to Indian sabji. Check out other books in this Easy Cookbook for Kids series for various meals and snacks from around the world.

chinaRecipes from China

by Dana Meachen Rau

Rau includes a variety of recipes for meals throughout the day from different regions of China. Other books in this Cooking Around the World series contain recipes from countries such as India, Italy, and Mexico.


 

Here’s a simple recipe to try. If you don’t normally cook by yourself, have an adult help with the frying. Hot grease can spit and burn.

Quick Doughnuts

Ingredients

1 pop-open can of biscuits, unbaked
Cooking oil
Sugar and cinnamon

Tools

Frying pan
Metal slotted spoon
Paper plates
Paper towels

Directions
1)    Pop open the can of biscuits, separate them, and set them out on a cutting board.
2)    Using the cap from a soda bottle, cut a hole in the center of each biscuit. Save the holes for frying too.
3)    Heat about 2 of oil in a deep frying pan.
4)    While it’s heating, sprinkle sugar and a dash of cinnamon on a paper plate and mix it well with a spoon. Also spread two paper towels on another paper plate.
5)    Wait for the oil to get hot enough. If you sprinkle one drop of water into the oil and it sizzles and spits, it’s ready.
6)    Place several doughnuts into the pan, but don’t crowd them.
7)    As soon as the bottom turns brown, flip them over with a metal slotted spoon. Watch carefully, because they brown quickly. And turn gently to keep the oil from spattering.
8)    When both sides are brown, ladle them onto the plate with the paper towels & pat off the grease. Be careful because they’re hot.
9)    Quickly roll them in cinnamon and sugar while they’re still warm.

Makes 8 doughnuts and 8 doughnut holes

Do you have any kid-friendly recipes to share or favorite cookbooks? We’d love to have you add them to the comments.

About the Author

When other parents discovered how well Laurie J. Edwards’s kids could cook, they asked her to teach their sons and daughters. That led to Cooking for Kids classes and a weekly cooking session at the small private school her kids attended. Laurie’s had many other fun jobs in her life, including owning a cake decorating business, being a children’s librarian, and writing for kids. Some of her recent and forthcoming book releases include Her Cold Revenge (Switch Press), The Forget-Me-Not Keeper (illustrations, written by Susanna Leonard Hill), Imperial China, West African Kingdoms,  and Ancient Egypt (Cengage). Read more about Laurie and her books on her blog, her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@LaurieJEdwards).

They may be prehistoric but they never get old…(a giveaway)

early cretaceous

What it would be like to see a living, breathing dinosaur? The Early Cretaceous brings readers close to prehistoric life. By combining the latest paleontological findings with highly detailed, intimate drawings of wildlife from the Early Cretaceous, readers  look into the eyes of some of the most fascinating creatures to ever inhabit the earth. Written and illustrated in the style of a naturalist’s notebook, it’s  a first-hand account of what it is like to stand alongside everything from the first birds to flying dinosaurs to some of the largest creatures ever to walk the earth. Discover how some dinosaurs survived polar blizzards, while others were able to pump blood five stories high to reach their brains.

The Early Cretaceous is backed by the research of one of paleontology’s most acclaimed theorists, giving the book the most up to date scientific interpretation regarding animal behaviors, interactions, and recreations.

“The illustrations and artistic layout are exceptionally beautiful. This is a book children will cherish, keep, and remember, and adults will be delighted to add to their collection.” – Sylvia Czerkas, Author and Director The Dinosaur Museum, Utah

Illustrator and co-author Juan Carlos Alonso says, “I have always had a passion for nature. It has taken me around the world from Australia to the Galapagos Islands where I have been able to experience wildlife first hand.”

To be eligible to win one of TWO FREE COPIES, enter a comment below.