Starting from Scratch: A Book Review and A Giveaway

 Starting from Scratch

That jar of granola holds a lot of promise. It is from a recipe that can be prepared by kids.  I love the idea of a healthy granola recipe for children to take pride in by making it themselves. Healthy breakfasts lead to excellent learning in school. Chances are, if a child prepares that granola, there is sure to be a belly full of granola in the morning before school.

The recipe is from the book, “Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking“, which  introduces cooking to children.  At the end of the book, readers are encouraged to own the kitchen and prepare something they can relate to! Children learn best when they are allowed to explore and question, when they touch and feel, when they are amazed by facts and when they feel connected to what they are learning. I believe children who learn to cook will develop life-long good eating habits more than those who don’t learn. If they make something with interest, they will be more likely to respect it for what it is.


I was curious in the kitchen at a very young age. It stemmed from my father’s keen interest in growing vegetables, my family’s enthusiasm in cooking beyond the borders, and the encouraging disposition my parents had. I am grateful for their beliefs surrounding food. Had they not trusted me with the knife to slice onions, tasked me with measuring ingredients, assigned me a hot stove to fry an egg on – all salted with their thorough repetition of precautions –  I would probably be eating take-out dinners in order to survive. At a very young age the value of food was (thankfully) instilled in me. I learned that the real value of food was well beyond its nutritional worth:  learning that food has the ability to bring our senses together by enabling our creativity, allowing us to conform and respect the ingredients, helping us practice charity and make lasting bonds.

Today I want to do what my parents did for me:  to build that relationship of respect between my daughter and food. I believe the kitchen can teach my daughter to be a good human being – a giving, caring, and respectful soul.  No matter how much one knows, or to what level their expertise is in the kitchen, a book that can guide one in planning lessons for their children in the kitchen – without those melt downs – is a huge bonus! It is especially an advantage when that book has been written and developed keeping in mind how young minds work.

“Starting from Scratch” is one such book; an excellent book. Author Sarah Elton, who has already written a book about food sustainability, is a mother of two young kids who seems to believe in some of the very things I do. Let children take control in the kitchen, let them take ownership and make something they can be proud of. Sarah Elton’s experiences with her own children form the backbone of this book. Through this book children can learn to be confident with food by getting to know their ingredients and creating their own foods – leading to children taking ownership of the food they eat, creating less waste through conservation, and sharing.

“Starting from Scratch” includes everything you would need to explain to your child about cooking. It is written in simple and engaging language, with colourful illustrations to keep the experience fun and focussed.


The book – intended for ages ten and above – is a concise 96 pages with six chapters that explores everything a curious child would ask in the kitchen. At first glance the book seemed intended for a slightly more mature reader than a ten year old but after reading the book myself, I realized that it would be a great joint reading and shared activity for kids and parents alike. The tips and tricks included in the book make for some fun experiments in the kitchen.

In the book, Sarah Elton explores food in the form of science, art, and culture. She explains “why food taste so good”.  “Did you know that artichokes make sweet flavours seem even sweeter?” Here I read about Bang Band Chicken from China and how it got its name (which evidently made me hungry and google-search a recipe). The book not only contains fun experiments but also includes tips for young chefs. It talks about what makes varied cuisines so different and ranges to an explanation of why cooking is all about science and math. Sections on cooking, baking, and finding the right table settings are also explored. Best of all (something I really appreciate!) is a section on cleaning up after all the cooking is over. The book also includes four basic recipes, a guide to flavour paring, and some handy measurements and conversion charts.


I think “Starting from Scratch” is a fantastic book, not only for children but also for eager adults newly entering the kitchen domain. I have always been fairly curious about food science myself.  Having that topic explored and made fun and manageable for children scored highly with me. If you want your child to eat healthy food, this is a fantastic guide to help spark that interest in your child. Let the book guide you and your child to a smarter approach to involving your child in the potential wonders of the kitchen.

On a personal note, this book is absolutely for my daughter. She is half way through three and can read pictures, so I have to wait until she can read it herself. There will be a day in just a few years when she will turn the pages of this book in utter amazement and run to the kitchen to play with real food.


This book is for her and I have one for you, courtesy of Owlkids Books. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this delightful book, please use the comment section and indicate if you want the book for yourself or for someone you know. I will use the raffelcoptor to pick a winner. This giveaway is open to anyone in this big wide world. I will be happy to post it anywhere the post can go! Contest ends March 31, 2014.

The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Susie Taylor aka Fefe Noir. Congratulations! You will love this book for your nephew!

“Starting from Scratch”, an Owlkids Books, is written by Sarah Elton and illustrated by Jeff Kulak. Copies of the book are available at the Owlkids Online Bookstore.


12 thoughts on “Starting from Scratch: A Book Review and A Giveaway

  1. Just a quick note to say the photos of your daughter poring over this book are adorable! I am also reviewing the book and will be doing a giveaway, so no need to enter me into your draw.

  2. looks like an amazing book and if I don’t win it here, I will be looking it up myself 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Agreed that granola is tops for fun, grab-and-go, kid-friendly fare. Never understand why folks would buy (unless it’s at a farmers’ market where it’s been handcrafted–had a curry coconut flavor this way once and YUM) when it’s so easy to DIY. Great post as always!

  3. Oh I so want this! I love cooking with the kiddies….trying to develop little foodies myself:) Just made quinoa granola bars that turned out to be quinoa granola but it went over well:)

  4. Interested in this book for Brady and I. It looks amazing. What fun we would have trying these recipes 😉 Thanks so much.

  5. Great blog Debjani :). Baking and cooking in the kitchen are a big part of my memories growing up as a child too. I hope to create many memories with my children as well. Would love to have a copy of this book for them, as they grow into little creators in the kitchen!

  6. I would love this book for my 5 year old nephew. I love the idea of the kitchen as a “science lab” as well as a place to learn to love food. I still make recipes from the “Learn to Cook Book” we had as kids. There was a crazy recipe “Apple Snow” I believe included apples and eggwhites, might have to look it up…BTW I have spiced preserved lemons curing at the moment and am looking forward to trying them.

  7. Great photos of your little girl – you always have good pics on your blog! I would like to enter for the book giveaway! It’s for my soon-to-be teenage daughter. It looks like a great learning tool for young ones. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s