National Geographic Kids Cook Book — Off the Shelf

Get your little chefs ready for a yearlong food adventure in the kitchen with the National Geographic Kids Cook Book.

'Tis the season when helping hands — especially little ones — find their way into your holiday kitchen. It's with the junior culinarians in mind that we present you with the National Geographic Kids Cook Book by Barton Seaver. A year-long food adventure, the Kids Cook Book is a fun way to get your little chef's hands dirty in the kitchen and his or her mind piqued when it comes to the possibilities food offers. The most-fantastic feature of the National Geographic Kids Cook Book is its perfect balance of fun activities, easy-to-digest information and kid-friendly recipes, like the Hot Cinnamon Apple Cider recipe (given after the jump for you to try at home), Dinosaur Kale Chips, Not-So-Sloppy Joes and more.

Activities and information are organized by month, giving your little chef fun kitchen tasks and recipes to try every week of the year. Every activity and recipe in the book is family-friendly, designed to get the whole family cooking and learning about food together. With the National Geographic Kids Cook Book, your junior culinarian will learn about everything from how to grow his or her own herb garden, composting, seasonal ingredients to how to pack the perfect school lunch. The book also gives you plans to easily put together cook-offs, family food challenges or pizza parties, or even start a cooking club. The kid-friendly paperback design leaves the book lightweight enough for little hands to carry with them.

Getting kids cooking can be tricky business. The National Geographic Kids Cook Book author, Barton Seaver, shares his top five tips for guaranteeing success as you acclimate your little helper to the processes of the most fun and rewarding room in the house, your kitchen:

  • The first and most important step to integrating kids into meal preparation is integrating them into the shopping. If they don't like or feel inspired by the ingredients in your fridge, what's the chance they're going to want to have anything to do with the final dish? If you start the meal process at the store, you are integrating them throughout the decision process, thus leading to an exponentially greater probability of them eating and enjoying the food.
  • Another important step to integrating kids into preparation of a meal is to plan for their participation by thinking ahead to identify a few appropriate tasks. You will have added confidence from having some structure to their participation. Haphazard management of tasks can present danger for both the child and the quality of your meal.
  • One of my favorite ways to introduce children to the ingredients commonly used in kitchens is to have them peel vegetables. Most vegetables can be peeled very effectively with a scrubbing sponge rather than a metal peeler. By using this method, it is not only safer, but there is a fun conversation as the vegetable layers are slowly revealed. By engaging children with vegetables there are a lot of conversation points to pick up on, while the task at hand won't be distracting from your other efforts.
  • Vinaigrettes: What danger is there in measuring things? The worst that can happen is you waste some ingredients. Measuring teaches fundamental skills while integrating math. It also teaches about one of the most-nuanced aspects of cooking, which is the idea of balance; a complicated topic for sure, but not one that's beyond a child's ability to comprehend. Tasting as you go can reveal a lot about the various roles that each ingredient plays within a dish. These same lessons can be applied to recipes such as mulled cider, adding ingredients incrementally so as to best discover the character they add to a dish.
  • One of the most-important lessons that professional cooks learn is to constantly be aware of their physical surroundings. In most high-level kitchens, the only words you'll hear spoken before service are "behind" and "hot." This practice is simply to create a safe work environment so that no one is ever surprised by or unaware of their colleagues' actions. This is equally true in the home kitchen. Before wheeling around from the island cutting board to the dish sink with your dirty knife, it's wise to set the precedent of making each other aware of possible dangers. The choreography of your movements in a kitchen can negate a lot of the dangers of a kitchen.

Get your little one cooking with your very own copy of The National Geographic Kids Cook Book, available to order here.

Hot Cinnamon Apple Cider

The cool of autumn nights calls for a steaming mug of cider to help warm the body. This drink is fun to put together, and it makes your whole house smell like an apple orchard. Bonus: It's so easy, your little brother or sister could do it.

Prep: 5 minutes / Cook: 20 minutes / Serves: 4
1 lemon
1 orange
1 quart apple cider
5 allspice berries
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Juice the lemon and orange into a medium-size pot, placing the skin of half the lemon and half the orange in the pot with the juice. Discard the other half. Add the cider, allspice, and cinnamon and place the pot on the stove over medium heat.

Once the cider begins to steam and you begin to smell the yummy scents, turn the heat to low and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes for the flavors to fully combine.

With a ladle, spoon the cider into mugs and enjoy while cuddled next to a fire or on a walk in the chill evening.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the National Geographic Kids Cook Book, copyright 2014 by Barton Seaver, National Geographic Kids.

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