Monday, April 7, 2014

Books: Starting From Scratch

Reading has always been one of my favourite pastimes. As a kid, I could polish off a 100 + page novel in just a few days. Books were hidden under my textbooks, my pillow, and I'd even read while walking home. Once someone became so concerned that I wasn't watching where I was going that they called my parents.

Years later, I read cookbooks, magazine articles, and websites just as voraciously. Forget TV, I'm always on the couch with either a laptop or a book-so when people want to send me a book to look at, I'm all over it.

Starting from Scratch arrived in my mailbox about a week ago. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one-often, I find that how-to cook books geared to older kids or teens are usually much too simplistic for me and often the food is either cutesy or includes too much processed food for my taste. This one is completely different.

Sarah Elton's book isn't a traditional cookbook packed with recipes, but it is a great jumping off point and resource for anyone who is new to the kitchen. The book is fairly small at about less than 100 pages but is a decent size without being overwhelming. There's a bit of everything; food safety, cooking terms, food ethics, tips on cleaning up and shopping, how to read a recipe, basic tools you'll need, different cultures, the science behind taste and baking, and more. It's like a resource for all things cooking, with even a measurement and conversion table, and a few really good cookbook recommendations tucked in the back.

The true test came when my 18 year old, who never usually reads any of the books I'm sent, saw the book lying on the counter and began reading it. Later he found me in the kitchen and pointed to the book.

"That's a really great book, Mom. I think it's perfect for teens. Actually it would be a fantastic textbook for high schools because it also includes bits about the science of cooking, and a lot of really useful information."

Besides, it's interesting. So interesting that I actually sat on the couch and read it, cover to cover. To inform without being preachy these days really is an art, and Sarah Elton does a very good job of this.

If you have a young cook or an older teen, even a nearly adult child graduating and moving out, this book would be a great gift along with some basic kitchen gear to get them started. I highly recommend it. You'll find the book for about $14 at Chapters.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher. All thoughts are my own.
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