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Cookbook gift recommendation for 11 year old?

I would love to buy a knife for my nephew the aspiring chef. A cookbook would probably be more age appropriate. Suggestions?

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  1. Buy the knife. Good tools are important, and 11 is plenty old enough to learn basic knife skills. Lord knows every kid in my family was doing routine prep work by age 11. But if overprotective parents won't let him near a knife, make sure the cookbook is colorful, with photos of the food. A baking book might be a good choice, as little knifework is involved...breadbaking isn't complex, and it is a very satisfying skill to master, at any age.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Hungry Celeste

      There's a book by Mark Bittman called "How to Cook Everything". The subtitle is "Simple Recipes for Great Food". This might be a nice gift that could carry him well into adulthood. I wouldn't buy a book geared toward kids, necessarily. If he's interested in good food and cooking, he'll get more and more out of a book like this as he matures, but he'll still enjoy it at age 11.

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        Good tome, I've looked at it at the bookstore. Joy of Cooking crossed my mind.

        1. re: Romanmk

          I second the "Joy of Cooking". If he is an 11 year old aspiring chef, he will be able to read and follow the simple directions "Joy" is a very good user-friendly book...lots of info on ingredients, etc.

          1. re: jarona

            The Joy of Cooking is a great recommendation. When I was 8 and up I would pour through that book every week. I could imagine myself having a similar experience with the Mark Bittman book.


      2. re: Hungry Celeste

        Thanks! I think I will wait for 13 for the knife. Maybe my sister will be OK with it then. Bread is a good idea. The tools are simple.

      3. Saw a commercial on TV for a cookbook/recipe program for kids for the Wii system. Phoebe from Friends does the spot.

        Really don't know much 'bout the product (age appropriate, worthwhile, etc) but just thought I'd mention it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: porker

          its called "Personal Trainer: Cooking" and its for the nintendo ds. It looks pretty neat. I think I might get it for my ds :)

          My favorite cookbook when I was a kid was a little cookbook called "Sip, Nibble and Snack" but I dont know if they still make it anymore :)

        2. The Family Cookbook put out under either the America's Test Kitchen or Cooks Illustrated line - I can't recall which and they are the same folks. Lots of basic cooking principles.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            I second this cookbook for many reasons: my teenager likes the color photos, which gives her some ideas of how stuff looks; the book lies flat, unlike the unwieldy spines of Joy of Cooking, etc.; it's not a kid's cookbook, but a motivated kid with some advice can easily handle all of the recipes.

            I bought my daughter a small 5" Global when she was 10 yrs old and gave her lessons on safety and use, and she graduated to a 6" chef's as soon as her hands got bigger and she got more confidence.


          2. My sons use these two.

            Everybody Loves Ramen
            Chow-snobs may scoff, but he makes a darn good stroganoff from this adding in a few meatballs from the freezer.

            101 Things to do with a Cake Mix

            1 Reply
            1. re: AreBe

              To, AreBe
              No snob or scoff here! (smile) Just joined last week
              I will buy this and I am 38..lol
              I have 2 boxes of the Ramen noodles and so tired of eating them the same way. either soup or I just drain them and put 1/2 the season pack and butter.
              So Stroganoff is sounding pretty good right now
              So Thank you very much...

            2. Emeril has three cookbooks for kids: 1) There's a chef in my soup 2) There's a chef in my family and 3) There's a chef in my world.

              I had looked at these as gift possibilities for my niece and nephew (with the idea that I would cook some things out of the books with them). I thought they were pretty well reviewed on Amazon and they seem to be aimed at kids in your age range.

              Maybe your nephew is more sophisticated. But some of the reviews suggest that there is a lot for kids to learn out of these books. So they may be worth looking at.

              4 Replies
              1. re: karykat

                I gave "There's a Chef in my Soup" to my nephew a few years back. IIRC, it's aimed a little younger (in technique) than 11. Most of the stuff was easy enough for an 8-year-old to do (with some approriate adult assistance). Said recipient nephew, now 11, has graduated to going to work with his dad in a real restaurant kitchen, so I'm done with the culinary gifts. For some kids, after you've used the giagantic hobart mixer, everything else pales in comparison ;) He spent his time at the family reunion circulating and asking folks if they'd tried the diced jicama in the fruit salad, and nattering about how he'd colored it red with raspberry juice.

                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  You may be right about that. Thinking back, when I was about that age I think I was using the Betty Crocker cookbook (the one with the red cover) having started earlier with the Betty Crocker cookbook for kids. So it probably depends a lot on how interested the child is and what they've done already.

                  1. re: karykat

                    I was using that same Betty Crocker (red cover) when I was about his age. It had a good amount of pictures and lots of basic cooking info in there, too IIRC.
                    The Everyday Cooking book has a lot of simple recipes...not too many ingredients, and nothing to complex. I don't know any 11 year olds, so I'm not sure if it would be over his head or not.

                    1. re: karykat

                      Karykat and Ceebee, I cut my culinary teeth on the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Kids at around 8-9 (and I still have my original copy) and then moved staight to Joy at about age 11/12.

                      But I would have loved the mark of respect that being given a proper knife bestows, if Mom and Dad agree.

                2. Buy him both. Go with the Forschner fibrox chef's knife - top rated by cook's country and under $25 on-line. No need to break the bank here. And then go with their Best Recipes cookbook, also under $25. It's a very good book to learn from and the recipes are generally not complicated.


                  1. For his 13th birthday I gave my grandson "American Pie" by Peter Reinhart. He just loves it and has been offering to make pizza for the family a couple of times a month ever since. It's not just that he adores pizza, he gets great satisfaction out of working with and shaping the dough. It's a real treat to watch him concentrate on getting his pizza circles just so.


                    11 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      You have a very smart and dedicated grandson! I've dipped into that book once or twice to make crust and found it a little daunting.

                      1. re: karykat

                        Well, from the time he was quite little and could do not much more than scatter on the cheese, he loved to be in the kitchen with me and "help" me make it. By the time he was ready to do it on his own, he was already familiar with the procedure.

                        And, yes. He is very smart. ;-)

                        1. re: JoanN

                          Aw, that's so sweet! Do you need any special supplies to go with the book? Would just a pizza stone, a pizza paddle and a pizza cutter be enough to get one started?


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            It would (even the cutter isn't really necessary; a chef's knife will do), but (bless his heart) my grandson wanted it *exactly* like it is at my house. So I also gave him a couple of bags of King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour since that's what I use (and he lives in Latin America so if I don't bring it, he can't get it). I do think, though, that both the stone and the paddle make a big difference; one in the pie itself and the other in the ease of dealing with it.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              That's just so cute! I'm embarrassed to ask, but can one find the King Arthur flour in grocery stores or does one need to order online (notice I would consider getting someone else the perfect flour as a gift, but cut corners on ingredients when cooking for myself. No WONDER my dishes never turn out just right.)


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Many groceries carry the KA all purpose & bread flours, but the specialty flours are harder to find. Incidentally, KA is offering "free shipping" deal today only. Don't know if it is for preferred shoppers or for the general public. NB, I use the AP or italian flours for my most successful pizza crusts. But to each his own--that's the fun of cooking.

                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                  Funny you mention the special shipping deal today. I love KA, but their shipping costs are always so high. I really stocked up today: bread, Italian-style, and Sir Lancelot flours. Gonna be making a lot of pizza this winter!

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Sir Lancelot is a flour that is even higher in gluten than bread flour and I like the chewiness it imparts to the crust. But most of the recipes in the book call for either high-gluten or bread flour. And there are some that call for all-purpose flour, too. Bread flour would be a perfectly appropriate accompaniment to the book.

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      TDQ -- I think I've seen King Arthur flour at the coop and I think at places like Kowalskis. You definitely also can get it through their catalog.

                                      I believe the King Arthur flour is considered "softer." Made from more soft wheat than hard wheat. It is a bit different from our usual brands.

                                      1. re: karykat

                                        King Arthur is a mill selling many diff types of flour, so there is no ONE King Arthur flour. Their all-purpose flour is 11.7% protein, definitely not a "soft" flour. The bread flour is 12.8% protein; various other configurations are available, from a soft Italian to mellow pastry blend to low protein cake flour at just 8% protein. Check out all of their flours, including non-wheat ones: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/d...

                      2. Depending on your nephew and his interest/experience, or lack thereof, you may consider getting him his own BLANK recipe book. Kids of all ages love making their own things [so do I], and if he's already got an interest in cooking, this would be great.

                        It can be a large, blank paged journal (lined would be great if, like most boys his age, he needs a little help keeping things neat).

                        Or, you could get him one of those photo albums with sticky-pages covered by clear plastic where he could insert recipes torn out of magazines/newspapers or printed off the computer (terrible for photos, but great for a project like this).

                        Another option would be to buy one of those 3-ring binders with customizing inserts. You would probably want to give it with a package of paper and some tab pages. You could also add those plastic-pocket pages that you can get at stationery stores.

                        1. I agree with not getting him a cookbook geared towards kids. If he really likes cooking, he'll be flattered that you gave him a cookbook that doesn't talk down to him.

                          If he really plans on becoming a chef and going to cooking school, maybe he would like one of Michael Ruhlman's books or something like "The Professional Chef" from the CIA.

                          I also think he would love one of the big "essential" cookbooks, like The Joy of Cooking or "How to Cook Everything." "How to..." has a new 10th Anniversary Edition.

                          1. Hi,

                            I have a 9 yr old and was thinking same thing for stocking.

                            I saw in Walmart Paula Dean Had one I belive it was called
                            "My first cookbook" very child friendly and pics and all.

                            Think this would be best for a 11 yr old just getting started. As far as the knife? I don't know if they make smaller one's for kid's hands. Maybe a search on the net for "real childrens cooking tools" may show something I will take a look and if I find anything. I will post again.
                            Take care,

                            1. Hi, Again
                              Found some cool links for what you are looking for

                              This is the Emerils cookset ( no knifes) Resonable $ and Cute!
                              These are from another site TOOLS but no knifes a little $$$$

                              This is Rachael Rays site and this is a CHILD'S knife set (cool might buy for my daughter

                              And this is the link to the Paula Deen book I put in my last post , I know you can get it cheaper on Amazon or in Walmart (in store) saw it last week

                              Hope this helps

                              1. My 8 and 10 year olds cook ALL the time from Pepin's "Fast Food My Way"!

                                1. What about Alton's books? I'm Just Here for the Food is informative and fun. There is technique, history and lots of trivia. It is not specifically written for kids (no please no Emeril, can't you see my moniker?), but I think Alton has a side that greatly appeals a younger cohort.

                                    1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                      I agree with rick and lanie-- it is a nice book; explains everything but is not "dumbed down"

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        Oh, I'd forgotten about this one--it is really good. Nicely illustrated, with clear instructions. Complicated enough recipes to appeal to a teen, too.