As a child, I loved Nancy Drew. Even though the stories were terribly dated (I didn’t really realize that at the time), and kind of sexist, I loved diving into a good Nancy Drew book. So, when I came across The Nancy Drew Cookbook at a book sale, I had to buy it.
[Side Note: My mother was a huge proponent of children’s cookbooks. It didn’t matter how old they were, she thought that everyone should know how to cook. So, she started us out at a very young age. I loved those books because it made me feel empowered to be able to prepare a full recipe from start to finish.]
Published in 1973, and republished in 2005, The Nancy Drew Cookbook, is a children’s cookbook with mini-mysteries peppered throughout. The book utilizes plenty of characters from the series. Hannah, Ned, Bess, and George, all make appearances. The mini-mysteries divide up the major sections of the book and are easily solved in less than two pages. They are just long enough to give you something to do while waiting for the oven to pre-heat, or the water to come to a boil, so that you won’t be tempted to leave the kitchen – which is always a huge no-no.
The recipes are basic. A few of them would even be considered downright dated in today’s world of The Food Network and Top Chef. What I like, though, is that these recipes are geared towards getting kids to not only learn about cooking, but to also show them how to add their own nuances and ideas to the recipes.
This is a book that encourages experimenting and working through a dish from beginning to end, while helping a kid to expand his or her palate. Now, I don’t have kids, so I’m probably not the best person to ask about age ranges for this type of thing. But, I will say that I would have loved and thought of this this book as a “must have” when I was 10 or 11 years old.
The “To Clue You In” section provides plenty of direction for safety and avoiding food poisoning tips. Things like, “get an adult’s permission to turn on the stove;” or, “wash your hands before starting to work” along with all of the other basic tips from Home Ec class should help put parents at ease (I assume, since I’m not a parent. But I have been cooking since I was 8 if that helps). The “To Clue You In” section includes 25 tips that tackle safety, cleanliness, and common sense cooking directions.
The book covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, along with picnic ideas. And, the mini-mysteries will totally remind you of the old school Nancy Drew – only shorter and cuter.
Maybe it’s a combination of nostalgias on my part, but I really loved this book. Having a cookbook geared towards getting kids interested in children and combining it with a childhood favorite, was just perfect.
If you pick this book up, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Because I may be too clouded by childhood memories to review it without bias.