Thursday, August 18, 2011

The most clever birthday gift ever

One night last week as his family drove home from the baseball game, Augie announced that during the game he had thought of a great birthday gift for Pa. (His parents had been working on the idea of getting something the birthday person would like, not something you would like.)

"We should give him his own copy of Pretend Soup (a children's cookbook) and all the ingredients to make Number Salad." Augie has his own copy but had never made this recipe. He was sure Pa would enjoy it.

His parents and sister agreed that was a wonderful idea. (Mom and Dad also marveled that he'd kept this exciting secret to himself while we were all together at the game.)

He proudly presented the gift on Sunday, and on Tuesday Augie and Vi made two batches of Number Salad for lunch at our house, sharing with Pa, me, and their mom (Dad was working).

The recipe begins with one handful of coconut and two tablespoons of orange juice concentrate. "Handful" is a subjective term; Augie pulled out at least 1/3 cup while Vi daintily withdrew about a tablespoonful. The beautiful thing: It doesn't matter!

Then you cut, count, and drop in 3 orange sections, 4 apple slices, 5 cubes of cheese, 6 banana slices, 7 pieces of melon, and 8 grapes. (Having put in the specified number of pieces, or any number you like, you can eat the excess.)

As you stir ("9 times"), the coconut and orange juice concentrate form a dressing - a pretty clever idea if you like coconut (we liked it more than the kids did).


The kids dished up Number Salad for lunch. Two batches was more than enough (we were still full from breakfast) so Pa and I had the rest with dinner.

We have many other wonderful recipes to try, as we continue to enjoy Pa's birthday gift. Timing is perfect; Peter had just mentioned that he wanted to involve the kids more in meal preparation this year.

Pretend Soup, by the way, is by Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook, and Ann Henderson, a preschool teacher. All recipes are kid-tested. Grownups do the difficult steps; kids use table knives for any cutting they do. They participate in lots of cooking at home, and they are very proud of their efforts. I wish I'd had that opportunity as a kid, but more than that, I love that they do.


16 comments:

Jeanie said...

How adorable -- and what a perfect gift that can be enjoyed together! I love this!

Linda said...

Now this sounds like a recipe I could handle, and I especially love the idea of the coconut.

You can see how they are so absorbed in their "cooking" process. What a great idea. I recall Moosewood Cookbook with fondness.

Abby said...

Such a clever boy. =) Love all of the pictures. AND you didn't mention that he also brought the cookbook to the store to pick out and buy all of the ingredients! So much fun.

Teresa Evangeline said...

What a great gift idea Augie had. Just perfect. What really fine children these are. That's what's possible when you're surrounded by people who love you. How blessed they are. And I'm sure you feel the same.

I have the Moosewood Cookbook, a gift from a friend now gone. Thank you for jarring me into taking another look at it.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a fun thing for kids to make!
But, why don't kids like coconut anymore? When I was a kid, there was nothing more scrumptious than a cake frosted with 7-minute icing and covered with coconut! Seems like most kids don't like raisins either.

Dee Ready said...

Augie is a delight. Is that his sister next to him in the photographs?

A short while after I became a vegetarian thirty years ago, the first Moosewood Cookbook was published. I have prepared almost every recipe. The soups are exceptional.

Katzen has followed that first cookbook with many others. I'm grateful to hear about "Pretend Soup." I'll purchase it for my great-great nieces and nephews. Thank you.

Jeanie said...

They look very absorbed in their cooking project.....what a fun thing to do with a yummy ending.

Linda Myers said...

Terrific birthday idea! And how cool that it could be a joint project.

DJan said...

How cool is that? I LOVE this story, and I have always loved the Moosewood Cookbook. it was the only one I had for years and years... :-)

Retired English Teacher said...

I have never heard of this book. I love it. I think this was a fabulous birthday present. What memories this is making while also teaching children to cook.

Grandmother said...

My husband, the family cook, has liked Katzen for a long time. He loves cooking with our grands so I'll pick up the book. Thanks for the recommendation and for sharing your little love bubble!

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a great idea Augie had! He is a thinker! I also like that it was a whole experience from start to finish..idea, prep, and finally the gift and then the creation..way cool. You are making wonderful memories with those two beautiful children:)

Barb said...

Thanks for this book tip - I believe my Grands will love it. I do try to cook with them.

Deb Shucka said...

What a wonderful gift. Augie's just the coolest kid ever. Mom and Dad sure seem to be doing amazing things with him. The salad sounds like a perfect summer dish, too.

Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

Awesome gift! Augie is so delightful. And the book sounds pretty delightful, too. I'm a cookbook addict and will surely add this to the shelf for sharing with my grandson. Thanks for the suggestion.

IndigoWrath said...

Hi Nancy! My mum didn't do much cooking with me as a kid, and as a result I was rather feckless when I went to university. Silly really, as she's a fabulous cook. But she wanted girls, as she's told us on many occasions; imagine her disappointment when me and big bro arrived. So it's great that the little 'uns are keen and enjoying themselves! Indigo

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