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Wattie's Let's Cook: Book review

Reviewed by's Stephanie Zajkowski

My kids would tell you they love to cook.

As their mother I would tell you that they love the idea of cooking, as long as the ingredient list involves chocolate, marshmallows and ice-cream.

So the reality is that come 5.30 most weeknights, if I suggest they might want to polish up their culinary skills, they're too engrossed in Home and Away to participate in prepping the evening meal.

Thus when I brought home Wattie's Let's Cook! - the cookbook designed to get kids into the kitchen and enjoying learning how to cook -  their enthusiasm level ratcheted up a notch or two.

Prematurely, I had visions of discarding my apron while the two arm-wrestled each other for pole position at the stove. 

Alas - the recipes in this book didn't really inspire them to leave the sitting room, but back to that later...

First, a little bit about Project Cook - which the book has sprung from.

Project Cook is a school based programme designed to get kids into cooking. It was developed in consultation with food writers, dietitians and home economics teachers. Project Cook explores the ingredients, techniques, technology and nutrition behind simple recipes.

The book is well laid out with clear photography and nice, defined sections including school lunches, after-school snacks, brunch, main meals, salad and veges, desserts and baking.

The "important information" section covers food safety, being kitchen safe and healthy eating tips. A great idea but what kid would independently choose to wade through this first on the way to the Sticky Date and Pear pudding? A section for the parents to go through with their kids, then.

So back to the recipes. Given that this book emanated from Watties, most of the recipes incorporate Heinz/Watties goods.

From a quick flick through the opening pages I can list mayonnaise, tuna, frozen avocado (what the?) frozen veges, baked beans, spaghetti, tinned diced apple, fruit squirtz... and the inventory goes on.

For this parent, the book succeeds where it keeps ingredients fresh and natural. Indian Fish Curry will be on the menu at our house this week.  Hopefully I can prise the 12-year-old off the couch to make it! 

Wattie's Let's Cook is not about teaching kids to be adventurist cooks, it's more about teaching them to cook without burning down the house or cutting off a finger.

Basically this cookbook dilutes and simplifies a really popular formula -   it's Food in a Minute for kids.  If I look hard enough there's probably a recipe using the ubiquitous potato pom-pom somewhere.

Rating: 7/10

Title: Wattie's Let's Cook
Publisher: Penguin
RRP: $30.00
Available: Now!