Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of this book for review by Owlkids Books. I know, I'm so lucky.
I quite simply adore this book. Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking written by Sarah Elton and illustrated by Jeff Kulak is a joyful mixture of facts and fun for an ageless audience. My six-year-old son and I read this new book from Owlkids Books together and there's no doubt I enjoy it as much as he does. It is food and cooking in a nutshell; a large and complete nutshell.
Starting from Scratch doesn't just aim to get the reader interested and involved in cooking, but to truly understand it. Chapters like Why You Should Cook, Cooking is Science, and What is a Recipe? offer up information even seasoned cooks will find fascinating. One of my favourite segments is a two-page spread in chapter two that takes readers around the globe to find out how different cultures prepare the same common ingredient - chicken. Another highlight for us was coming up with our own salad dressing ideas on page 49. After learning about the 3-parts oil to 1-part acid ratio, readers can pick an oil from the extensive list, followed by an ingredient from the Acids list and one or more from the Flavorings list. My son came up with his own olive oil, lemon juice and mustard creation.
This is also one of the most charmingly illustrated books I've held in my hands in some time. The fun vintage-style illustrations by the Montreal-based Kulak flow freely throughout the text, setting a playful tone and making the turning of each page a feast for the eyes. I mean, who doesn't love a sandwich with legs holding a fabulous handbag? Seeing ordinary pantry items and familiar kitchen tools splashed on the page in vivid colour is a real treat. I'd put any of Kulak's artful illustrations from this book up in my kitchen just for their fun, feel-good factor.
I wish you could all win a copy, but I'm only giving away one! If you're a parent or teacher, Starting from Scratch will help ignite a passion for cooking in kids. It would also make a lovely graduation gift for any young person about to move away from home for the first time where feeding themselves is part of the reality. Understanding food and cooking is a life lesson no one should leave home without. Now on to the winning...
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you want to win a copy of Starting from Scratch. Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. A winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, March 9th, 2014 at 6 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. Good luck!