Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THE GREEN TEEN COOKBOOK: Recipes for All Seasons--written by teens, for teens

The Green Teen Cookbook, edited by Laurane Marchive and Pam McElroy, is both a cookbook and a resource for thinking about and shopping for food. The first of the book includes essays/articles on things like how to eat healthfully and/or seasonally, eating organic foods, levels of vegetarianism, how to be a locavore, and what fairtrade means. Between the title and the first chapter, I expected it to be a vegetarian cookbook, but it isn't-- it includes all sorts of recipes, including some for meat, chicken, and fish. All of the recipes focus on the use of fresh foods.

The second chapter includes recipe for making staples such as mayonnaise, pesto, salsa, and chicken or vegetable stock, and more. It also has a non-staple in the form of chocolate spread (not called Nutella, but still...) The remainder of the book is organized into sections by meal types: Breakfast & Brunch; Soups, Salads & Sandwiches; Snacks & Sides; Main Courses; and Desserts. Each recipe submitted by a teen includes a picture of the teen cook at the top of the page, along with a quote about the recipe and why they like making it or recommend it.

The selections include everything from simple dishes like French toast, Green Salad, or Apple Chips to more sophisticated or involved recipes. As a long-time cook and follower of recipes, I found myself wishing that some of the recipes had been proofed better or written just a bit more clearly. The "Summer Lasagna" comes to mind (not, apparently, a teen recipe), where the recipe calls for mozzarella, but doesn't specify that it should be shredded mozzarella, although on reading and re-reading the recipe, it became obvious that was probably what was intended (you mix it with ricotta, and mixing unshredded mozzarella is either impossible or inadvisable. That said, the variety of dishes is excellent, and the personal introductions by the teen chefs who donated the recipes are inspiring -- they explain where they learned to make the dish, or why they like making or eating it. Each recipe also comes with a photograph of the finished dish, and some come with additional "quick tips", like the one for crepes, which says that "Your first crepe will most likely not [] be perfect but don't worry, you will get the hang of it."

Here's a photo of what a two-page spread in the book looks like. It features recipes for "Chicken with Ginger and Broccoli", supplied by Dong Tran, and "Chili Con Carne", from Clare Gosling.

A great book for teens wanting to start cooking or start their own cookbook collections.

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