This week marks the launch of my latest children's book, Baking Class! Just like my other kid's cookbook Cooking Class, Baking Class is filled with fun recipes and playful photos of kids in the kitchen. Every page features yummy baked goods for cupcakes, muffins, biscuits, cookies, and 50 other mouthwatering treats!
The book was a joy to put together. More than 20 different children came over to my kitchen and we baked together and photographed the steps along the way. The book begins with basic kitchen skills (like how to measure flour and roll out cookie dough). Each chapter features step-by-step recipes including Zombie Zucchini Bread, Very Vanilla Birthday Cake, Cupcake Decorating Party, Puffy Popovers, and Dig in the Dirt Pie. All the recipes are easy to follow, fun to look at, and can be made by kids with just a little help from a grown-up.
Baking creates sweet childhood memories. I still remember pulling up a stool to the counter in my grandmother's kitchen when I was a girl, cracking eggs, measuring flour, and stirring everything up in the bowl. When my cake batter went into the oven, it's was like magic seeing it transform into a chocolatey sweet that I could frost and share with my family. I felt so proud!
I hope you enjoy the recipes in Baking Class and create many kitchen memories of your own. Happy Baking!
On a crisp fall day like today, I love stopping by my local farmers market—and picking up fresh apples, greens, radishes, carrots, squashes, and more. The fresh air, the music, the sun, the colors, the food . . . I tried to capture the essence of all this in my new Farmers Market Create & Play Activity book.
The book was inspired by trips to the farmers market with my girls when they were little (I pulled them in a big red wagon and we picked out fruits and veggies together). The book comes with beautifully illustrated pop-out fruits and veggies, play money, shopping lists, cash register stickers, and other props for pretending to be a green grocer. It also teaches kids where food comes from through games and activities, including garden activities and a scavenger hunt to a real farmers market. Take a peek at the book trailer!
With school out for the summer, now is a great time for kids to dive into a good book. Why not spark their interest in a different type of summer reading and hand them an activity book? Not only will kids enjoy a little carefree fun as they try their hand at cooking, crafting, and getting creative, they’ll continue to build math, reading, science, and problem-solving skills that will serve them well when they return to the classroom this fall. Here are a few of my favorite activities from my kids books that are perfect for this time of year!
1. Make Breakfast From Scratch! Now that the mad dash to catch the school bus in the morning is done for the summer, kids have more time to make breakfast. Share this recipe for French Toast on a Stick made with local berries, from Cooking Class. As kids learn their way around the kitchen, they’ll practice skills like cracking eggs, cooking over the stovetop, and following directions (not to mention feeling the satisfaction of making a nourishing meal with their own two hands)!
2. Visit a Farmer's Market. Summer is prime farmers’ market season — a feast for the senses and a lesson in learning about local food. Before you and the kids head to your town market, print out these scavenger hunt sheets from Farmers Market Create-and-Play Activity Book (forthcoming this fall!) and send your little eaters on a search for yummy treasures. Talk with them about making healthy food choices, and don’t forget to bring a few fruits and veggies home to try.
3. Open a Pet Vet Clinic. On a rainy day, gather up stuffed animals and set up a care clinic at home. With printable forms and signs from Teddy Bear Doctor, kids will have everything they need to open a doctor’s office for hours of play, plus science, math, and writing skills.
4. Build a Barn in a Box. For the horse-crazy kid in your household, creating a perfect home for model horses is as easy as 1-2-3. All they need are a few basics you probably already have on hand and directions from Horse Play! When they’re done, download this Barn-in-a-Box Props for creative ways to accessorize and bring the barn to life! Happy summer!
Today marks the pub date of my newest kids' activity book, Horse Play! This book was a fun collaboration with my good friend Katie Craig. We were asked by Storey publishing to produce a children's book for horse-crazy girls, and so we dreamed up room crafts, party ideas, punch-out bookmarks, and even a pony poster, then we photographed, designed, and wrote the book. This was our first venture into book packaging, and we're hooked!
The book was inspired by the many girls we know who love horses (or women we know who loved them when they were little!). We have sisters and friends and daughters who played with Breyer horses for hours on end, memorized every horse breed in the book, and rode any chance they got. We also have our own memories of riding as kids (a favorite childhood memory for me was riding bare back to an apple orchard with my sister Hillary).
The book makes a cute birthday gift for kids. It's packed with breed fun facts, riding tips, and cool projects (a barn-in-a box, pony party cupcakes, and more!).
We are so thankful for all the adorable kids who modeled in the book and tested the projects. And we're thrilled to see it was chosen for Cool Mom Picks!
Happy horsing around!
Now that we are a few months into the year, I’ve got some big news to share. I’m happy to report that I have two new children’s books launching this year. Horse Play is at the printers now and will be published in May. And Let’s Play Farmers Market Activity Book will be released in October 2016. Like all my books, these titles are packed with colorful photos, hands-on projects, and lots of creativity for kids.
On top of my work as an author, I have an exciting new part-time job as a children’s book editor for Storey publishing, the wonderful publisher of my books! I will be acquiring new hands-on activity books that teach and inspire kids to explore, learn, cook, grow, and get creative.
Writing and editing books for kids is a dream job. I get to poke around bookstores, libraries, classrooms, and kitchens looking for inspiration for new books and formats. I enjoy talking to teachers, kids, and parents about the types of non-fiction books they like to read. Speaking of which . . . If you have any favorite activity books on your bookshelves, please write to me. I’d love to hear about why you and your kids love them!
I'm looking forward to inspiring even more kids in the kitchen, in the classroom, and at home through books I write—and edit—in 2016 and beyond.
Thanks for all your support and hope to hear from you!
P.S. Did I mention that Cooking Class is now it it’s 5th printing?! It was also picked as one of the best books of the year by NPR. Feeling grateful!
When my girls were little, I loved dreaming up holiday gifts that were creative and encouraged their passions. Ella was crazy for dogs so we made her a cardboard box dog house and gave her a stack of puppy books (Go, Dog. Go! was a favorite). Maisie wanted to be a rock star so we found a pink electric guitar and a book on how to be a girl rocker. When I gave my girls these gifts, I felt happy to see them dive into the activities they truly love. They'd spend hours pretending and playing and learning with their new gifts.
As a kids' book author, I've heard many parents say they are buying Teddy Bear Doctor for their kids who want to be veterinarians or doctors when they grow up. One mom bought a pet carry case and doctor set to give together with the book. Other parents are picking up Cooking Class for their kids who aspire to be chefs or cooking tv stars. They bought some kid-size cooking tools to go along with the cookbook, too. Both of these books will keep the kids busy for hours, and help them explore their passions and role-play future careers.
If you are looking for a creative holiday gift that supports your kids passions and aspirations, pick up copies of Teddy Bear Doctor and/or Cooking Class. This month, Cooking Class is featured on the Amazon Holiday Toy List. Thanks to this awesome promotion, the book is in the top #100 sales rank for Amazon. My publisher Workman/Storey also included the books in their "Books Say Happy Holidays Best" campaign. If you buy either book through PageADay, you'll get 20% off, plus they'll donate a copy of Good and Cheap to a family in need with the code "Holiday."
Happy holiday shopping!
On the spookiest day of the year, I'm looking forward to hosting a dress-up event at the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs. Please come say hello if you are nearby. And if your kids need a last-minute-Halloween costume, dress as a Teddy Bear Doctor with the lab coat, headlamp, and homemade stethoscope from my book!
Years ago, I also wrote the Kids Pumpkin Projects book with some folklore, crafts, and recipes about wonderful pumpkins. Take a look a this book, too.
Yummy Mummy's from Kidstir's Spooky Celebration kit!
With school in full swing, I'm thrilled that my kids' activity books are being used by teachers, museum educators, and parents who want to make learning fun for the children in their lives. The photos I've received of kids playing pet vet with their stuffed animals and cooking up recipes not only make me smile, but prove that one of the best ways to learn is through a craft, a recipe, or a pretend play experience. Take a look at these sweet pictures of kids filling out check up forms (and practicing letters), taking the temperature on their teddy bears (and learning about numbers) from our recent event at the Eric Carle Museum for Teddy Bear Doctor.
I am looking forward to hosting more hands-on learning events at children's museums this Fall. I'll be in Seattle on September 30th at the KidQuest museum for both Cooking Class and Teddy Bear Doctor. I'll also be hosting events at the Book Larder on October 2nd and the Northshire Bookstore on October 31st—and making some classroom visits in NYC and MA.
The back-to-school season has also brought some good press for my books, including a great review of Cooking Class in the Sept/October issue of AllRecipes magazine, a sneak peak of Teddy Bear Doctor in the October issue of FamilyFun, and several newspaper articles, such as this favorite from the Daily Herald and this from School Library Journal.
Last but not least, I'm very happy to help parents and kids raise money for their schools in school fundraising catalogs. Check out Close Buy, a fundraising catalog with terrific local products. Also keep your eye out for Cooking Class in the Scholastic Book Fair catalogs this Fall!
I'm happy to announce that my newest children's book Teddy Bear Doctor hit bookshelves this week! The colorful, fun, make & play activity book was inspired by my daughter Maisie who used to love playing vet with her stuffed animals. I remember one day when she was home from elementary school with a fever, I thought she was napping, but I peeked in her room and she was wearing a make-shift lab coat and playing vet on her stuffed animals. She made paper towel casts and slings, wrote down the animals' temperatures, checked their heart beats, and filled out pretend prescriptions on her clipboard.
It is wonderful to watch little kids loose themselves in pretend play (and see Maria Montessori quote "Play is the work of the child," in action). As I wrote this book, I wanted to spark imaginative play and kick off hours of creativity. The book features crafts (a pipe cleaner stethoscope and other doctor kit tools), a t-shirt lab coat, pull-out nurse hats and headlamps, and forms to fill out (RX, patient exam forms), plus tons of band-aid and get well soon stickers. The book has learning sidebars from real vets, too (both my sister Hillary Cook and my neighbor Lauren Atkins added their expertise).
The book was brought to life by the talented team at Storey publishing, the photographer Julie Bidwell, and crafter Maryellen Sullivan who I worked on the FamilyFun craft kits. The models came to my house and we set up a waiting room, vet office, front desk, and recovery room—and it was adorable to watch them fix all the boo boos on their stuffed animals.
All in all, the book makes a fun (inexpensive!) birthday present or classroom teacher gift. I promise it will keep your kids busy for hours of pretend play on a sick day (like it did with Maisie)!
P.S. The Eric Carle Museum will be hosting the launch event on August 13th from 10 to 11:30. Bring your stuffed animals and get ready to fix that plush puppy with a sprained ankle!
Now that it's officially summer and my kids are home everyday, our kitchen is a bustling place. The girls are mixing up smoothies (experimenting with ingredients like chia seeds, local berries, and a handful of fresh spinach from our garden). Fortunately, I get to enjoy a new healthy drink everyday, served up by my teens.
As they invent their smoothies, put together sandwiches, and bake cookies, they're learning in our kitchen vs in school—and the down time is good for them. They're getting creative, reading up on nutrition, and ultimately, fine-tuning the important life skill of cooking. Yes, they are teenagers, but this hands-on learning can happen at any age, from toddlers patting biscuit dough to elementary school kids practicing reading and fractions and science. I truly believe that the kitchen is the best classroom.
This summer, I'm going to be talking to various groups about how cooking is a great way to keep the learning going when school's out. On Sunday June 28th, I'll be sharing some simple recipes at the American Library Association convention—and offering tips to children's librarians on how they can set up cooking classes at their local libraries. On July 18th, I'll be at the Berkshire Museum, cooking up spring rolls and other international foods for kids who want to explore geography through food. I'll also be leading a kids' cooking camp at the Odyssey bookstore in Hadley, MA, on July 28th. If you are out and about, please stop by at any of these special events with your kids!
If you are looking for some recipes to keep your own kids learning over the summer, check out our new Kidstir Summer Sips kit and online recipes (yes, an Orange Float is an edible science experiment!). You can also take a look at recipes excerpted from my cookbook in the summer issues of Edible Pioneer Valley or Relish.
Happy summer cooking!
Time is flying by this month — and I'm bracing myself for a busy few weeks ahead. I'll be at the Book Expo in NYC on Thursday May 28th signing books (and sharing some dipped chocolate) at the Workman/Storey booth and at the author autographing area of BEA so please come say hello if you are at BEA this year. That night, I'm heading back home so I can attend my daughter's middle school closing ceremony. Then I'll be in NYC for the weekend, sharing Cooking Class at this year's Book Con.
Once the book fair fun is over, it'll be time to go back home and start prepping for my daughter's high school graduation party. I am planning the menu now for a cookout on our deck. With fresh greens, chives, mint, and radishes all ready to pick in my garden, I'm picturing big bowls of salads (green salad, tabouleh, roasted veggies, and more). I'm also planning to grill up chicken and shrimp with this tasty new recipe for BBQ rub that I developed for Kidstir.
This week, and my girls' entire childhood, seems to be moving at rocket speed. I'm hoping to slow it all down by sitting at the dinner table whenever I can (I'm looking forward to a few dinners out in NYC for book fair, our graduation cookout, and simple meals on our deck). After all, some of the best moments in life are when we share fresh food with family and friends. With just one bite, the fast pace comes to a halt and we savor not only the taste of good food, but also our fleeting time together.
I am feeling thankful this Mother's Day for my two teenage daughters, Ella and Maisie, who over the years have brought me so much joy (and so many yummy breakfasts in bed). When they were young, I had to make myself stay in bed in the morning (I'm an early riser, so this wasn't always easy). I could hear them down in the kitchen, mixing up pancake batter or beating eggs for omelets. The door would shut and open again and I could picture them in their pjs collecting bright purple lilacs from the yard. Then I listened to them carrying the breakfast tray up the stairs, hoping they wouldn't spill my precious cup of coffee, or worse, trip and fall with the entire tray down the stairs. They would finally appear at my doorstep with big smiles on their faces, feeling proud of their morning gift to Mama. I would get that warm feeling of love for my children and a secret pride, knowing they were pretty good cooks.
This Mother's Day, the girls won't be making me breakfast in bed. We are all going up to Vermont for the weekend. I'm leading a kids' cooking class and book signing on Saturday May 9th at 2pm at the Vermont Bookstore in Middlebury. The girls are coming with me to help, and we are spending the night at a bed & breakfast nearby — so we'll all be in for a treat on Mother's Day morning.
All week, I've been feel grateful for all the publicity around Cooking Class. With so many kids ready to whip up breakfast in bed for their moms, there have been some nice recipe excerpts from the book. A favorite was from the Washington Post with French Toast on a Stick. Grandparents.com also ran several recipes. And I was happy see nice reviews in Scholastic Parent & Child, the Examiner.com, and FamilyFun's Facebook page (which spiked sales on Amazon, so thank you!).
I've also been cooking up lots of breakfast recipes at Kidstir. We have a new Good Morning Kit with some of my favorite kid-friendly recipes and cute kitchen tools, plus more recipes online (I'm particularly proud of my food styling and recipe development on the Eggs in a Heart!).
I wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day. Savor your breakfasts in bed made by your own children!
P.S. Here are 5 tips for mother's day morning: 1). Stay in bed and pretend you're asleep even if you're wide awake. 2). Don't worry about the giant mess your kids are making in the kitchen (a little independence goes a long way in terms of learning to cook through trial and error). 3). Leave out this cute breakfast in bed order sheet on your doorknob from Kidstir 4). When your kids deliver your breakfast, scooch over so they can join you on the bed. 5). Take a moment to feel oh so very thankful for your children. 'Tis a true gift to be a mom!
My book tour continues this weekend and I'm heading to Washington DC to the annual IACP conference! At this convention, foodies from around the world come together to learn and talk about (and eat!) good food. There will be food bloggers, cookbook authors, test kitchen professionals, chefs, and other culinary professionals, plus a special 80th birthday party for Jacques Pepin (with 80 birthday cakes!). I'm thrilled to be a part of the Creative Showcase on Sunday March 29th from 7 to 9pm where I'll be signing copies of Cooking Class so please stop by and say hello. The last time I attended this conference was in 1996 (20 years ago!) on my book tour for the Disney Family Cookbook. I'm sure things have changed. I remember the food was oh so good and I bet it will be even better this time. Can't wait!
On a separate note, my book is officially for sale now on Amazon. If you write a review, I'll love you forever!
Hello friends! I am gearing up for a trip to NYC this weekend to participate in the kids food fest. My girls are coming along to help and we'll be cooking up some Think Spring! rolls (and dreaming of Spring). The festival has an impressive line up of foodies who are all focusing on feeding kids good, healthy food—the overall mission is to fight childhood obesity—all good stuff. I'm looking forward to watching some of the cooking demonstrations. And my girls are hoping to catch the star of iCarly cook right before me. If you are out and about on March 1st, please stop by and say hello. I'll be on the main (free) stage at 2pm on Sunday.
On Saturday, we are dipping chocolate at the Bank Street Bookstore (assuming I can find my way there!). Come check out my cookbook and nibble on some chocolate pretzels. I'll be there Saturday February 28th at 2:30 pm. Hope to see you there!
I've had a fun week in the local media, talking up Cooking Class, and getting ready for the official release in a few weeks. This morning, I went on the radio (and felt like I was being heard in that giant microphone!). I met Monte and Bill Newman and they introduced me as "The eponymous Deanna F.Cook, author of a totally cool new cookbook for kids." Thanks Bill and Monte! You can listen here (go to minute 43 just after the mayor).
I also cooked up some Think Spring! Rolls on Mass Appeal. I always feel at home on this show—the hosts are around my height and they like to cook (and eat and talk!). It's nice to see all the colors in the veggie-packed spring rolls on the air (we are all hoping for Spring, which seems like lightyears away on this snowy day).
The book signing event at the Odyssey was a big hit! There were 70 kids at the chocolate dipping party (and Ella helped me—what would we do without teenage daughters?). Check out my favorite pics from the event.
I am counting down the days until my new cookbook, Cooking Class, hits bookstores and feeling very grateful to all the wonderful kids who modeled in the book. Every time I open it up, I smile when I see them cooking away. We didn't hire any food stylists or wardrobe specialists for the book. The kids (who are the children of many of my friends) cooked up all the food and the amazing photographer Julie Bidwell caught them in action. We just picked a date for a book launch party to celebrate the publication with all the models and I can't wait. I'm also looking forward to more events—a chocolate dipping party at the Odyssey bookstore on February 18th at 3pm, a Think Spring! Roll demonstration at the Kids' Food Festival in NYC on March 1st, and book signing at the IACP convention in Washington DC on March 28th. I hope to see some of you there!