Summer time is a great time for family activities. How about cooking up some great food that can be prepared by young and old?  The Essential Mormon Cookbook, by Julie Badger Jensen, includes some of grandma’s great recipes that have been handed down from mother to child, beginning in pioneer times.

Sister Jensen has compiled some of the yummiest, and fun-filled recipes, for all family members to enjoy!  Included are a cool dip into a “Bear Lake Raspberry Shake”, a lip-quencher with a “Fresh Lemonade with Mint” and a breakfast opener with “German Pancakes with Strawberries”. There’s even the almost forgotten original pioneer hand and arm exercise: “Honey Taffy”. (This is where you pull and pull the candy, after cooking the honey mixture into a hard ball, until the texture becomes milky and light. If your family hasn’t tried this recipe, get ready for a great time that will be begged to be repeated again and again.)

I’ve already used many recipes from this newly published cookbook and have loved them all. My family especially loves the “Rocky Mountain Cookies”. Perhaps it’s because we don’t live by those majestic mountains anymore – or because they’re filled with a delicious and healthy crunch of oats, nuts and Rice Crispies.

I had an experience just last week where the “Mormon Cookbook” came to the rescue. I’m the Beehive Counselor and was in charge of helping the young women’s group to prepare homemade root beer. Even though I’ve never made it before, I knew there was a recipe on the bottle of root beer flavoring. But looking at the bottle for the recipe, I realized that this wasn’t the true delicious recipe that I was hoping for. Then I remembered Sister Jensen’s book and drove home to get it. Not only was the drink absolutely delicious, but the process of making it was enjoyed by everyone that walked near the kitchen door – including many of the young men..

I asked Sister Jensen how she came to create this book and she said that she wanted to “gladden the heart”.  She’s been collecting and trying out recipes her entire life. She’s had so many requests to pass on her recipes, that after putting together a book for her own family, she took it a step further. By publishing this outstanding cookbook, she helps “…to strengthen families and friendships and to encourage and inspire both new and seasoned cooks with confidence in their own abilities…to celebrate ‘the good things which come of the earth” in “the season thereof “. (D & C 59:17-18)

She’s assembled a perfect spiral bound layout allowing cooks to read without the annoyance of having to hold down the pages. And the sections are ingeniously separated by seasons. Each season begins with more of her creative genius by giving homemakers even more ideas to celebrate. I can’t think of a single reason why everyone, of all ages, wouldn’t want this book laying open permanently in the kitchen!

Julie Badger Jensen has been Meridian’s food editor and originated our “Around the Table” section.  To sample some of her recipes check our archives.

There’s a Chef in my Family!, by Emeril Lagasse, is a cook book that is geared for all ages in the kitchen.  Emeril has broken down each recipe so that it’s easy to follow and read.  He has listed each step with numbers, as well as his opinions, to help navigate the cooks toward a yummy success.
Here are a few of the 77 recipes that are included:  He has a recipe for making a fresh, homemade bagel.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I would never try making a bagel from scratch when you can buy them everywhere.  But the recipe looks so inviting and fun that even the title draws you in. “Yes-You-Can Bagels” have a two page lay-out that gives just enough information to make you want to dive right in.  The end result will surely make you want to bite right in.  I also found a very simple recipe for a lettuce salad that has some flavorful helpful hints making it a most memorable lettuce salad.

Emeril has his chapters of recipes progressing through the day beginning with a bounty of breakfast food and ending with some sweet delights.  I especially like the way he begins this oversized book with a complete section of helpful hints of cooking as well as an illustrated section on the materials needed for success.  Helpful illustrations, by Charles Yuen, are throughout the book as well as ingenious photographs, by Quentin Bacon, of family members cooking.

Disney has assembled two family cook books that encourage parents and children to get their hands involved in some serious cooking.  Family Fun Fast Family Dinners is loaded with great meal recipes that are geared for all ages.  The four chapters include soups and salads, main dishes, side dishes and dessert.  There are additional recipes on many of the side bars of the featured recipes that will appeal directly to youngsters.  For instance, the delicious looking “Pork on a Bun” recipe has a smaller recipe called “Hot Dog Octopus” which is easily made by slicing a hot dog into several long pieces and laying it on a bed of spinach pasta.  “Family Fun Super Snacks” has a similar layout with four chapters and great kid-friendly additions.  The chapters are divided into fruits and vegetables, chips and munchies, finger food and treats.  One of many easy, but yummy, recipes has an apple and cheese kebab.  On the side bar, there is a great idea of making a fruit worm kebab.

  Disney has another recipe book that is written by the renowned chef, Ira L. Meyer.  He came up with a unique idea of combining animated movies and recipes.  “Disney Recipes: From Animation to Inspiration” by Meyer, and edited by Marcello Garofalo, is a culmination of some of the greatest movies with delicious recipes that seem to go hand in hand.  Included in this creative combo is “Snow White’s Winter Vegetable Soup,” “Merlin’s Magical Broth,” “Ariel’s ‘Under the Sea’ Tempura” and “Captain Hook’s Codfish Fillet”. This large book is full of wondrous illustrations of not only prepared dishes but of scenes from the actual movie and even renderings of the characters throughout.  Also, there are tips to get the kids involved in the cooking and 8 chapters of some of the tastiest food ever!  The pictures alone will draw children of all ages to want to try one of these appetizing recipes. 

Now how about some building, experimenting, acting, singing and creating for a family activity?  A Lithgow Palooza!  101 Ways to Entertain and Inspire Your Kids, by John Lithgow, is a magical book of imagination.  The chapters alone will spark ideas from you and your children.  Some of the eleven
chapter headings include ideas for performing, word-play, music, dance, art and animals.

  There’s even a chapter on ideas while on your vacation.  (This chapter alone, is worth buying the book.)  The layout is so family-friendly that ideas will start popping out by merely turning the pages!

What I like best about these activities is that all family members become actively involved together to create and achieve their goal.  The other great thing about these activities is that there is a lot of engaged reading that teaches children life skills that apply reading to the importance of following directions correctly.  So, what are you waiting for?  Summer time’s a ‘wasting!