Help kids get to the head of the class

 
By Deborah Pankey and Henry Gabriel
Updated 8/13/2015 3:57 PM
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  • These are no-bake bars that stay fresh for a week if stored in the refrigerator

    These are no-bake bars that stay fresh for a week if stored in the refrigerator Courtesy of Storey Publishing

  • "Cooking Class" by Deanna F. Cook pulls together 50 recipes that will entice kids ages 6 to 12 into the kitchen.

    "Cooking Class" by Deanna F. Cook pulls together 50 recipes that will entice kids ages 6 to 12 into the kitchen. Courtesy of Storey Publishing

Ah August! When school bells ring again and we try to get our kids back into the habit of learning.

If you need a little something to help clear the cobwebs from the gray matter, Deanna F. Cook's latest cookbook "Cooking Class" will do the trick.

Cook, a former editor at Family Fun magazine, has more than a dozen family and kid-centric cookbooks to her credit. In this latest book from Storey Publishing, she sets out to draw kids ages 6 to 12 into the kitchen with more than 50 easy-to-follow recipes and kitchen crafts.

The book is organized into lessons, starting with a review of good habits (wash your hands, measure carefully, clean up when you're done -- handy reminders for parents as well), definitions of common cooking terms (mince vs. dice) and how to set a table and fold a napkin for a pretty table setting. Then, of course, come the recipes, each accompanied by color, step-by-step photos and plenty of helpful tips.

The most challenging thing about the cookbook was deciding which recipe to try first. Henry and turned every page, passing up tempting fare including Tiny Tomato Toasts (bruschetta), lunch box-loving Quiche Cupcakes and Very Vanilla Pudding before setting our sights on Grab-and-Go Granola Bars.

Granola bars are a pretty important brick in my family's food pyramid. They head to school with Henry for a midmorning snack and get tossed into the teen's backpack for a quick bite before practice. My husband has been known to eat one (even two) for breakfast and I generally have one in my purse for those afternoons when I don't have time for lunch. Whip up this homemade version and you'll get all the hearty, oat goodness without the sodium, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup in store-bought versions.

Henry says: I love granola bars. They're an easy snack that's optimized for any occasion. The recipe in the book was easy to follow; all the recipes are broken down into smaller steps. You don't even bake these; they cook on the stove. I put chocolate chips on the granola bars, but you could stir in nuts or raisins. I want to try Sleepover Party Pancakes next.

• Deborah Pankey, former food editor at the Daily Herald, is the mother of two boys. Her youngest, Henry, is a seventh-grader who is slowly coming out of his picky eater phase.

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