Looking for a cookbook recomendation for a 13-year old

Joined Apr 14, 2003
My 13-year old niece is really getting into cooking (she always wants to help with dinner and she loves the Food Network), so I thought I might pick her up a cookbook for the holidays and would appreciate any suggestions/opinions. What I'm looking for is something that would have:
-clear intructions
-lots of color pictures
-basic recipes (she and her family are a meat and potato kind of gang)
-not too wordy (she's not quite like her uncle who can just sit down and read a cookbook :) )

Her parents would help her out in the kitchen, but it would nice if there were a few things she could prepare all on her own, too. I spent over an hour at Barnes and Noble, and there were only a few that might fit the bill (Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family!; The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook; Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals for Kids). Rick Bayless' "Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Recipes and Stories" looks great, but unfortunately I don't think my niece would eat half of the food in there.

If anyone had any ideas, please let me know :)
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Hey oh

Well, simple meat and potatos will limit your options severly, and maybe you should reject that criterion completly. Also, even though her parrents are meat a potato does not mean she is or really wants to be. Have you spent the day with her watching cooking shows? Has she said 'wow, I'd like to try that'? That is the way to begin.

I can say this of myself, when I was 10/11 I loved the TV show Yan Can Cook. Funny and fun to watch. I watched it so much that I got a wok and 2 Yan Can Cook cookbooks for Christmas and a chance to do the grocery shopping. I learned a lot of dishes, and cooked a lot of dinners for the family. For me, that was a big leap in my learning to cook. The recipis were all simple, the cook times short, and they were fairly hard to mess up.

As for my son, who just turned 6, he got for Christmas 2 years ago a cookbook on the foods of Provence (one of two books he has worked hard to not damage) and at last years school book fair, he bought a copy of the schools cookbook (that would be undamaged book 2). His first dish at the stove was called Spicy Bean Curd in Meat Sauce (a favourite from the Hunan Provance), and a few weeks back he and I made bread, and tommorow we will be making banana muffins!
Joined Aug 29, 2000
I think DK (Dorling Kindersley) books are good for beginnners, and they have lots of titles. Have a look at their site.

I have a chicken cookbook of theirs by Anne Willan that I like. It has good illustrations, which this publisher is known for, and it gives directions step-by-step.

I teach middle schoolers and I think these books would be fine for an interested youngster who has a parent with a typical knowledge base to help if needed.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
my 13 yr old has just about any cookbook to choose from. He will usually go through some upscale books for ideas, and find something similar, and use books like the. Fanny Farmer, Good Housekeeping set, cookbooks, etc. Stay awayt from Gourmet,Bon Appotit. etc. These recipes are not explained well enough.
Joined Apr 24, 2001
What about the cooks illustrated books? Very clear instructions. And if your niece is really interested in learning how to cook, she might find the text interesting, too. Those with a genuine interest in learning to cook will want to read the accompanying text. And these books comprise of recipes for the amalgam of dishes that make American cuisine.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
i recently came across a used copy of Jacques Pépin. Completely illustrated, step by step. Great for any level of cooking. You might have better luck at a second hand store; you often get better selection. Cooking books have only recently become very
"grown-up". I used to cook with my parents' French cookbooks when I was seven. A properly written cbook can be useful at any age.

I recently gave a Cordon Bleu book to a beginner. It's pretty good, with lots of pics.
Joined Apr 1, 2005
this might be too 'little kid' for a 13 year old, but 'KIDS COOKING: A
VERY SLIGHTLY MESSY MANUAL' is a great book, and the recipes
in it are really good, too! my 20 yr old still uses hers. of course she
watches spongebob too......
Joined Aug 12, 2004
the origanal silver palate cookbook
lots of great easy to follow recipes
no pictures but they are not needed
Joined Apr 26, 2005
You might take a look at Rozanne Gold's 1-2-3 books, especially the first, Recipes 1-2-3. These are solid recipes with only 3 ingredients, not counting salt or pepper, that would introduce her to various techniques and permit her to taste the elements of each dish she makes, learning what each ingredient contributes. Starting with just 3 ingredients helps beginners appreciate the importance of quality in each one. The directions are clear and the illustrations *****strate how beautifully a simple recipe can be presented.
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