Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer Reading - Books with Recipes at the Back.

The younger girls (ages 8 and 10) have been busy reading and crafting their way through Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series, heading into to summer reading.  There are enough books, and crafts, in the series to keep them busy for quite a while yet.  But, I also have a couple of other series (this time with recipes at the back) for them to flip back and forth from, and a similar (recipes at the back) manga series for their older sisters, as well.

Coincidentally, each of the book sets I have in mind also provide opportunities for foreign language study.

For instance, Giada De Laurentiis (from the Food Network) sprinkles the pages of her Recipe for Adventure books with Italian words and phrases. There are recipes at the back of each book, but no glossary, so the girls will be reading these out loud to me (probably only a chapter a day), so I can help them along the way.

I've also downloaded the Gus on the Go - Italian app to our Kindle... well as the free version of Learn Italian (non-affiliate link), to help them with pronunciation and word recognition.

As to the stories, we're only a couple of chapters into the first book, but they remind me a little of the Magic Tree House.

Take a geography loving 11 year old boy, from an Italian-American family, and his 12 year old, history loving, sister, and combine them with a globe-trotting great-aunt, who has the power to transport them to the places she has visited, through her recipes - and you have a recipe for summer learning, as well as an adventure (at least that's my hope).

So far, there are six books in the series (the links will take you to recipe cards on the author's site).

Book 1: Naples! with recipes for Tomato-Basil Pizza and Zeppole
Book 2: Paris! with recipes for Hot Chocolate and Crepes
Book 3: Hong Kong! with recipes for Shrimp Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes
Book 4: New Orleans with recipes for Bananas Foster and Gumbo
Book 5: Rio! with recipes for Brigadeiros and Pão De Queijo
Book 6: Hawaii! with recipes for Macadamia Banana Bread and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

If we make it through all of those, hopefully trying out more than a few of the recipes along the way, the next books I have standing by are part of the Anna Wang series by Andrea Cheng.  The stories revolve around a young, about-to-be middle schooler, from a Chinese-American home, and contain short Chinese-English dictionaries and pronunciation guides, as well as recipes or crafts.

So far, there are four books in the series.

The Year of the Book with instructions for making a draw-string lunch bag (not a recipe but still fun)
The Year of the Baby with a recipe Steamed Red Bean Bao Zi
The Year of the Fortune Cookie with a recipe for Fortune Cookies
The Year of the Three Sisters (no recipe or project that I can see - but a Chinese pronunciation guide).

Meanwhile, my teens (ages 14 and 16) are planning on baking their way through Natumi Ando's Kitchen Princess.  The comic book style manga tells the story of a young girl, the orphan child of two pastry chefs.  She was rescued from drowning as a small child by a boy, who shared his flan, and some encouragement with her, and then left in a hurry, leaving her with only a silver spoon to remember him by.  Years later she when she discovers the spoon carries the emblem of a prestigious school, she studies hard in order to get into the school, in hope of finding her "prince".

The school is filled with elite and gifted students, each with a special talent.  It does not take long for our heroine to realize her talent is baking - much like her parents.  Finding her prince might take a little longer.

It's not exactly Shakespeare, but the recipes look promising, and there's a good deal of Japanese to be learned along the way, as well (with guides thrown in for English readers).

Kitchen Princess 1 with recipes for Flan, Taramasalata, Rainbow Colored Jello, Christmas Cookies, and Onion Gratin Soup.
Kitchen Princess 2 with recipes for Chocolate Macaroons, Strawberry Shortcake, Rice Cake, Yogurt Mousse, Peach Pie.
Kitchen Princess 3 with recipes for Polka Dot Pancake, Rolled Sandwich, Banana Cream Puff, Carrot Cake, and Mont Blanc.
Kitchen Princess 4 with recipes for Omurice, Apple Cake, Cocoa Scone, and Fruit Agar.
Kitchen Princess 5 with recipes for Strawberry Tart, Castella, Crepes, and Souffle Ice Cream.
Kitchen Princess 6 with recipes for Bruschetta, Flan Cake, Curry Roll, Yogurt Bread, and Baked Sweet Potato Mash.
Kitchen Princess 7 with recipes for  Fruit Cocktail, Madeleines, Neapolitan Spaghetti, Mille-Feulle, and Cheesecake.
Kitchen Princess 8 with recipes for Fruit Jam, Tea Sandwiches, High Tea, and Baci.
Kitchen Princess 9 with recipes for Cinnamon Rolls, Banana Bread, Chicken Doria, and Vegetable Potage
Kitchen Princess 10 with recipes for Salt Caramel, Paella, Cocktail, and Creme Brulee.

The girls have been too busy with end of the year youth-group activities, this week, to try any of the recipes from the first book, but I'm looking forward to comparing the Kitchen Princess sugar cookie recipe to our own, and in the meantime, I picked up some store bought flan for the girls to try.

It received mix reviews, but the girls loved getting a little taste of the story, all the same, and we spent a very productive few minutes looking up and reading the history of flan.

Needless to say, with all these great tastes and recipes to be tried, we're going to be needing a good exercise program to go along with our summer reading.


Dawn Rebekah said...

What a wonderful list of fun books.
Blessings, Dawn

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

That looks like creme caramel, not flan! Irresponsible store marketing. This is what flan should look like (it isn't usually baked round, but there's no reason you can't):

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Maryanne - This is Mexican or Spanish flan. There is a different version that developed in England - that looks more like what you made. Who knew?!?

Ticia said...

I was reading Maryanne's comment and thinking it sure looked like the flan we get at Mexican restaurants here. I didn't know there was a British version of it as well.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Ah, that makes sense. I should have done my research before jumping to conclusions, sorry! But they make something like your flan in France and call it creme caramel. Or, maybe creme caramel is the French term for a dessert flan rather than a regular flan? I love a good creme caramel (and a good regular flan), but in both cases high quality ingredients are free.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Maryanne - Yep, I checked with Alton Brown's "Good Eats" - and creme caramel is the French term for Spanish flan :) The link I have in the post above is to a site that explains the Roman origins of the dessert, so it's been around for a while. Like I said, who knew flan was so fascinating.

Natalie PlanetSmartyPants said...

The Recipe for Adventure sounds rather interesting! Anna read several Year Of... books, but I guess she was more interested in the books, not in the recipes. I hope your young cooks will enjoy trying all the recipes out.

Tina at said...

I'm so excited to have found your blog! I am working on a blog post of my kids' favorite series books, and somehow my search for Nancy Drew Clue Crew brought me to this post. I have no idea why, but I'm so glad it did because I haven't heard of any of these series you've highlighted, and my girls will LOVE them! They love watching Giada with their foodie dad on the Food Network!

I also wanted to invite you to my all-things-books linky party, Booknificent Thursdays on This kind of post would be a perfect thing to share with our little community there!

Have a great day,