This post is about Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking, written by Sarah Elton and illustrated by Jeff Kulak and is sponsored by 45th Parallel. I was given a book for review and the following thoughts and opinions are my own.
In today’s day and age it confounds me that less and less people know how to cook for themselves. We live in a time where you can get most any ingredient your heart desires (and in most cases, at a reasonable price), but no one seems to notice…or care? Do you know that there are more grocers out there than the big box stores? Have you ever been to your local eastern European grocer? How about your local Asian market?
If you’re shaking your head–set a goal. While many are only just now experiencing their first local farmer’s market this year, why not broaden your horizon and try a new non-chain or international grocer? You might even find a new favorite item 🙂
My horizons were changed whilst in school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign when Ktams and I were just good friends spending afternoons after class wandering through the tiny Asian grocery stores, with narrow aisles and interesting items that we had never seen before. Intrigued, we made it a goal to get through all of the different Asian grocers (3 at the time) before the semester was out. Then there was the time I found the European grocer down at school, and fell back in love with the stuffed olives that I had come to know while studying in Austria–I never thought I would taste them again.
Ingredients are only one of many elements of cooking. There are a variety of cooking methods too–dry heat vs. moist heat–boiling, blanching, braising, poaching, scalding, simmering, steaming, torching, frying, broiling, and more! Want to know more of the different methods? I find Chasing Delicious‘ post on Cooking Methods 101 incredibly helpful.
One book that really pulls a lot of elements in cooking together is Starting from Scratch, a children’s (yes, you heard right) book by Sarah Elton, illustrated by Jeff Kulak. This is not a read-just-before-bed kind of book–but it is one that you can break into one chapter at a time, and will be easily understood by kids age 6 & up. This book covers on everything from the different tastes (holla to umami!) to different cultures and even how spicy foods work!
As an adult, I found the book a joyous read, with images that are “a bit Eric Carle-esque” as my dear friend (and elementary ed teacher), Kayla, put it (rightly so!). It is definitely dense for a children’s book, however, I found that everything was broken down in a way that even my 3 year old niece would understand–think everything from explaining food science and the difference between salt, sweet, acid, and fat, to cultural differences in cooking!
The simplicity of Starting from Scratch is comparable to me to reading science books for kids. You might not tell people you do it, but in reality, when you aren’t sure where to start or what you need to know to get started, these sorts of books can be the perfect building blocks to coming to a full understanding of a subject or even building a new healthy habit! If you do have kids, it’s even a better excuse 😉 I can safely say I will have this book on hand for the next visit my nieces make to my house!