I can’t remember the last time I was so enthused about a book for kids. Sure, I’ve read my way through Harry Potter, caught up on the Divergent series, and shed a few tears over The Fault in Our Stars, but Starting from Scratch by Sarah Elton is unlike anything I’ve read before.
This non-fiction food book—it’s not a cookbook, but a book about food!—teaches kids (and maybe even some adults) how food works, why it works, and what you need in order to have fun in the kitchen. Sarah, an award-winning journalist and author from Toronto, carefully and thoroughly explains why we should cook (it’s fun and fascinating, and is an easy way to communicate with people), the importance of taste (that unique quality a food has when you put it in your mouth), the science behind cooking (when we heat our ingredients we cause a chemical and physical reaction) and tips for successfully working your way through a recipe (read it before you start, take notes, proceed with caution).
Then there are the very fun parts of the book, which include the use of substitutions, tools required for the job, stocking a pantry, grocery shopping, ethics in the kitchen, food and nutrition, food safety, and tips on how to nicely set a table. The thoughtful appendix tucked into the back of the book covers flavour pairings, measurements and conversions, and a set of very basic recipes that every kid will be thrilled to cook.
This book not only left me wanting more, it completely motivated me and inspired me to get my kids into the kitchen even more than they are now. I have a feeling it might do the same for you. If you’re interested, Sarah recently wrote an article on why you should get your kids to cook dinner for you, and it’s definitely worth a read.
So tell me, are your kids spending much time in the kitchen these days? What are they cooking up?
This week I was working with a local mom’s group, teaching them the ropes of basic party planning, and one of the items that was up for discussion was the question of ‘how long should a birthday party last?’. There is not one perfect answer to this of course, but I provided a brief guideline based on personal experience.
Generally speaking, I think the younger the child the shorter the party, and I personally don’t feel that every friend from school needs to be invited to a birthday celebration, but I know that I may be in the minority with this viewpoint.
Here’s a quick look at the timing and guest count I suggested to these moms, based on the age of the birthday child:
Age: 1–2 years
Time of Day: After a nap
Duration: 1 hour
Number of Guests: Depends on the type of party. Parents are obviously invited and usually at this age it’s a family-focused celebration so use your best judgement for how many guests you think you can manage.
Time of Day: Mid-morning or late-afternoon
Duration: 1 ½ hours
Number of Guests: 4–6. Parties become more friend-focused at this age and I’ve always liked the idea of inviting the same number of kids as the age your child is turning.
Time of Day: Afternoon
Duration: 1 ½–2 hours
Number of Guests: 6–8
Time of Day: Early or late afternoon; early evening
Duration: 2 hours maximum
Number of Guests: 7–10
Time of Day: Late afternoon or early evening
Duration: 2 ½–3 hours
Number of Guests: 10–12
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you approach parties differently? What is your favourite time of day to host a birthday party?
Image of Birthday Party from Shutterstock.