If you can get past the gratingly cheerful title, Yum-O! The Family Cookbook, TV chef Rachael Ray's latest, is actually pretty good. Very good, in fact. "Yum-O'' is one of Ray's trademark exclamations, and the name of her nonprofit, which promotes healthy eating and cooking to kids. (Proceeds from the book go to the charity.)
The cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $22.50) is designed to get families into the kitchen; it includes recipes for kids and parents to make together, though an older kid could make many of them with minimal supervision. And while no "family'' cookbook will be perfect for every family, this one has a lot of the right ingredients: recipes that range from super-easy to a bit more challenging; familiar food (English-muffin pizzas) and not-so-standard fare (stir-fry with shiitakes and bok choy); fun ideas for lunchbox additions and snacks; and notes about tasks that little chefs can do on their own.
Some of the recipes have long ingredient lists, which might be daunting to a parent who's not particularly comfortable in the kitchen. But there are plenty of recipes that provide simpler starting points, like Bottom-of-the-Box Breakfast Sundaes and Giant Chicken Tost-achos. And the book talks to kids in language they'll understand without being too childish, making it just right for I'm-too-cool tweens who want to make their own meals.
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