WELCOME TO NOVEMBER PROJECT!!! some may say it is the height of hubris for me to attempt a cookbook project during the month in which thanksgiving lives, considering the balls-out way i do thanksgiving. this might INDEED be a foolhardy plan, but i love this cookbook’s spirit, characters, and teaching style so so much, i might as well see if the recipes measure up! GR has reduced its review-space, so i’m just going to do photos and brief remarks here, but there’s a lot i want to applaud about the book as a whole, which i will do at the month’s end, over on blog. for now:
BERRIED TREASURE CRUMBLE
a tasty mix of THREE berries and lemon
topped with a not-too-sweet topping
making an excellent warmfruit dessert in these blissfully cooler days
catching up after photobucket SNAFUs:
i love butter chicken, and it had never occurred to me to make it in MY HOME
a few things: it! needs! salt! there are many spices and flavors involved in this, but it was missing the zing of salt to tie it all together. thing 2: i’m not sure if i marinated this too long or too well, or if i didn’t learn enough about my broiler during that s’mores project after all, but when it came time to broil the chicken in order to get a nice char on the meat,
mine…didn’t. and while i was wringing my hands, waiting for the meat to char, it was instead overcooking and drying out. it was still delicious, and even better the next day, when the sauce blossomed in flavor and became less liquidy in consistency, and that is what i have learned for next time.
these ingredients are used to make three components (clockwise): bananamole, salsa de frutas, dulce fundido
then you slap it all over some chips. for…breakfast? all together now:
this has a lot of tastes, but they play well with others in sweet harmonious nomming. i’d be more inclined to eat this midday or for an evening dessert than for breakfast, but i’m not a breakfast person in general. and i’m nacho mama—you feel free to eat what you want when you want.
VERY, VERY, VERY SLOW GRILLED CHEESE
how to assemble the sandwich, in photos:
then you let it sit over very low heat for ten minutes, flip it and hold for ten more, and then admire the melty melty cheeseporn:
i could watch this all day
but then i’d miss out on eating it
THIS IS HOW CHEESE HOLDS HANDS!
VEGGIE CHILI & SIMPLE MINI CORNBREAD MUFFINS
AND ALSO SCALLIONS! i forgot to put those on the table for photograph
is that cornmeal objectionable? the only other kind they had was aunt jemima and i felt like no matter which i chose, i would somehow be racist. anyway, i don’t own tiny muffin tins, but i DO own tiny ice cube trays from REMEMBER THIS PROJECT?
is chili! the cornbread was the not-sweet kind, which was great for dunking in the chili, and TIL that fage makes sour cream and it is EXCELLENT. i have never had carrots in chili before, but i approve of this development.
PEANUT BUTTER + JAM BREAKFAST COOKIES
this recipe includes sub-recipes for those who wish to make their own berry jam or nut butter for these cookies, but i just used some stuff i already had on hand because i am LAZY. my (store-bought like some phoning-it-in chump) berry jam is blueberry and my peanut butter is skippy, because for me there is no other.
i had some extra batter, so i also made some with white fig jam
i did not love these cookies, but i distributed them to four other people, and those people all liked them very much, even the one who doesn’t like 92% of existing foods/flavors. the toasted flax threw them off for me. i have never been an anti-flaxxer before, but in these cookies…i dunno, i just wasn’t a fan of their presence. four out of five people approve, tho’, which probably means i’m wrong.
PEPPERMINT SUGAR COOKIES WITH RUNNY ICING FOR DRIZZLING
okay, back on goodreads after a sadness-hibernation but LOOK! COOKIES! yes, the last recipe i tried was ALSO cookies, but i said i was SAD. cookies are sad-fixers. and this one has TWO different color icings and one is BLUE! like ME! anyway, peppermint cookies. they rule. i made a number of them in different sizes and it’s basically like brushing your teeth, so hygiene.
ALSO—this recipe has a five-page story that goes along with it:
how will it end? ADORABLY!
sorry for the lacuna. i’ll try to be better.
HERBY CHICKEN STEW
this one was nowhere near as thick as it was in the book’s photo, but it was a lot better than it looks, and by day two it had thickened in a nice potato chowdery way. the herbs were ladies’ choice; two hard/two soft, and i used thyme, rosemary, basil, and parsley and it made a nice fresh-tasting, thanksgiving-y soup. today i am adding egg noodles to make it last even longer!
BACON, LETTUCE, AND TOMATO
yes, this is just a BLT. but this is also a kid’s cookbook, so some of the recipes are going to be introductions to cooking techniques and not deconstructing molecular gastronomies and reinventing the cheese wheel. however, this is the best kid’s cookbook i’ve ever come across, so no complaints from me!
i love BLTs.
oh god and this picture makes me miss mcDLTs so much. i will never stop missing the mcDLT. i haven’t been to mcdonalds in years, but i would for a mcDLT. for now, i guess i’ll make do with this
i like my toast very light
it’s just your basic BLT, but it’s perfect, and it got me over my “bakin’ bacon is dumb'” opinion, which was itself dumb. i always assumed it would be soggy, but untrue! and it is so much faster this way!
long story short, i ate a pound of bacon.
SOY DELICIOUS LETTUCE WRAPS
a healthy and delicious meal, which probably would have been even more delicious if the hoisin sauce i bought had been better. this is the only time in my life i am ever going to say this, so listen up: it was too sweet. if i were a better man, i’d have made my own, because i love the stuff, but until the day when i become the kind of person who just makes all the things from scratch, please advise as to what brand is yummy. lee kum kee is not for mee.
zoom into my lettuce cup, dearie!
i also added some chopped peanuts because i already had ’em lying around, so those of you with food sensitivities should AVERT YOUR EYES!
up next: many tiny pizzas
pizza dough mise:
i made many little balls of dough
to be used in making many little pizzas, starting with:
SAL’S CLASSIC MARGHERITA
“classic” is canadian for “basic bitch.”
awww, they look like real pizzas, except raw!
i have made tiny, perfect pizzas! tiny, perfect, basic bitch pizzas! and they are delicious. maybe more cheese next time?
i am a pizza. do you like me yes or no?
RAGU’S BUSTING AT THE SEAMS CALZONE
there were supposed to be peppers, but i forgot to buy them, so i just added extra cheese to compensate. which is my go-to move in all of my life’s dilemmas, whether or not they occur in the kitchen.
if i ever accidentally gave birth, this is what my placenta would look like: a slick blob full of meat and cheese for to sustain my young. which would be a pizza. i have not thought this through.
they are a little light, and look like empanadas here, but i prefer most food a little underdone, and i do NOT like calzones that are hard and dry. also, i was VERY HUNGREE and didn’t want to risk ruining my calzone and having to go to bed with a rumble-tummy. i think it would have been fine left in a little longer and next time i will. first-time jitters is all.
this is my calzone, and it certainly did burst at the seams. soon, so shall i.
BEAN’S BURRITO PIZZA
it’s all your favorite hot pockets in one convenient dish! sad story: earlier in this project i discovered that fage made sour cream and now i can’t find it anywhere. maybe they only ever made one container and i will never have it again and it will join banana pudding pops, smurfberry crunch cereal, and chicken-flavored pac-man canned pasta in the Graveyard of Lost Deliciousness.
on a less-sad note, it looks like boobs!
so at least there’s that. i am enjoying all of these tiny pizzas, and i’m kind of amazed at how many tiny pizzas can be made from just one batch of this dough. YOU GUYS, I AM ROLLING IN DOUGH!
PEPPER PACKED A PEPPERONI PIZZA
this recipe called for THREE different sizes of pepperoni. i was not even aware that pepperoni came in sizes, and none of my local grocery stores seem to have gotten the memo that “mini pepperoni sticks” are a thing, so i had to buy a slim jim and hope for the best.
the slim jim shriveled up into a little rabbit-turd, and hardened unpleasantly, but the rest of it was delicious. hard to go wrong with pepperoni and cheese, and YES, THESE ALSO LOOK LIKE BOOBS.
poxy boobs, but you can just brush off the rabbit-poo, airbrush those extra nips and lesions out, and baby, you’re a centerfold!
this was the pizza i was most excited to try, so naturally, i saved it for last. and look at that lame “i am not fage” sour cream. i have since found a store that has it on the regular, but having now committed this sentence to type, i can sense the last container being sold, the store going out of business, that part of town falling into a sinkhole. sorry, lower woodside. i have ruined you.
this is emphatically SFW, non-boob pizza, and that’s okay. this is how it looks before the “add rosemary and bake” stage
a wonderful pizza: sweet-salty-herby with a variety of textures and potato chips on pizza is going to be a thing i do from now on, just watch me!
oozy and dramatic. BIG FAN!
ROSE GOES GREEN
okay, so that one wasn’t the last-last pizza, but i would never lie to you—i actually made BOTH of these pizzas the same night because they are small and i am a hungry person. for this one, there was a recipe for pesto, but i already had half a jar of pesto in my fridge, so i used that instead. i HAVE made my own pesto before, so just pretend i did it this time.
this one may not be the prettiest—that pesto looks a bit upchucky, and i’m sure if i had made my own pesto, it would have been grammable AF, and maybe someday i will live the kind of life where unpretty pesto is my biggest regret, but it ain’t here and now, boys!
regardless, this was a big round YUM.
ROAST ROOTS WITH A SUPER SIMPLE VINAIGRETTE
because i was doing this project in november, i knew i was going to have to use one of the recipes for my thanksgiving extravaganza*, and this was the one i chose.
i liked the vinaigrette, which was, as advertised, simple, but this was not the highlight of my 13-course** thanksgiving meal. i side-eyed this recipe from the get-go because—dry-roasting vegetables? no olive oil or sea salt? POURQUOI?
so i ended up with a tray of shrivelly wrinkle-shapes that were somewhat revived by the vinaigrette, but i think i’d rather roast them IN the vinaigrette. with plenty of sea salt. but what do i know, i didn’t even make my own damn pesto.
those were all the recipes i had time to do from this book, but there are a handful more i do want to try, and YES, they are mostly from the dessert chapter.
but now, i want to review the actual book-as-object independent from the recipe-making part, because this book is a treasure and if you have a youngster in your life with an interest in cooking, GIVE THEM THIS! and if they don’t have an interest in cooking, give them this anyway, because they’ll probably need to eat someday and cooking is an important life skill.
first of all, it is adorable. it’s got the cutest little characters running throughout the book, having just-for-fun adventures
but in-between the silly good fun, there’s some excellent education going on. the human characters are sal and pepper, and they are the goofus and gallant of kitchen safety, showing the do’s and don’ts in the matter of all things SHARP, HOT, or GERMS.
how much do i love that blood spray? SO much, TOO much.
for SHARP, the book teaches about the different kinds of knives; their uses, how to handle them properly, and demonstrates some basic cutting techniques. it also instructs what to do in case you do get cut, which illustrations i love for the blood-spray-as-cloud-of-gnats of it all
for HOT, it shows the difference between first, second, and third-degree burns that are no less horrifying for being cartoons, along with tips for how to put out a fire and just as importantly, how NOT to put out a fire. and what to do if you get burned, with the often-overlooked medical science about crying.
the GERMS section is the grossest; everything is shown contaminated with little purple spots of germs, which is exactly the right way to teach kids about the horrors of cross-contamination and how touching a thing and then touching another thing is why we have problems. this is also the first cookbook i have ever read with toilet pictures in it, a development i enthusiastically thumbs-up.
the safety tips in these three areas having been established, throughout the book, each recipe will indicate the points at which the chef will need to be mindful of these particular dangers by planting its icon alongside the step:
which is a clear and thoughtful way to say, “careful, kids!” without being condescending about it. these are the kinds of details that i think make this book so smart and wonderful.
apart from teaching kitchen safety, there are also lessons about food: history, flavor profiles, ingredient-flexibility, etc. for example, this is the most fun i’ve ever had learning about gourds:
now for the critters! the nonhuman characters in the munchy munchy bunch are loosely associated with the five flavors; salty, bitter, sour, sweet, and umami. each taste is defined and examples are shown of representative foods, while on the facing page, a little creature is introduced with additional descriptors about their personality traits or their relationship to food.
ragu is my favorite, for obvious reasons
the way the recipes are written is super encouraging and kid-friendly: accessible, engaging, and very tactile
and having recurring pals stop by makes it even more fun
the characters are sweet without being too cutesy, and they’re put to good use; for example, in the personalized pizza recipes above, or a chili-eating contest that teaches about the scoville scale demonstrating how hot is too hot for our foodie friends. also of note, their thoughts on the “perfect” way to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie, with recipes for “classic,” “cakey,” and “chewy” varieties included
my favorite, however, is this schnitzel challenge, where they all compete to make the perfect schnitzel while also proving their commitment to food safety and tidiness in a head-to-head battle, where a mistake or oversight eliminates them one by one, until gallant sal wins it all. ragu is first to go because he doesn’t wash his hands, which is antithetical to raccoon behavior, but he’s a gross little buddy, so i won’t argue.
ziti the worm does not compete, because she doesn’t like ANY food, not even chocolate chip cookies, as you have seen above. don’t worry, though, she will find her tru love food by the end of the book. no spoilers from me.
this book is wonderful and i have already ordered the author’s adult cookbook: Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook
in conclusion, this is where chickens come from.
* if you do not know about my epic thanksgivings, and would like to learn more, click here
** OR THAT WAS THE PLAN, ANYWAY