Wednesday, April 09, 2008

review: To Every Season

To Every Season: a Family Holiday Cookbook written and illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben. Simon & Schuster, 1999 (0-689-81797-5) $19.95 (OP, but easy to find)

This collection of holiday-inspired recipes features suggestions for sixteen popular American holidays, including five recipes for Passover. Some are traditional: mulled apple cider for Christmas, corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day, black-eyed pea cutlets and collard greens for Kwanzaa. Others are a little more imaginative, such as black and orange pasta for Halloween and "laid-back" banana bread for labor day. Each holiday is given a basic introduction, and there's also information about the traditions, if any, behind the recipes; I was particularly pleased that Zalben goes into some of the variations in Jewish traditions, including both an apple-and-walnut haroset, eaten by Askenazi Jews, and a date-and-almond haroset, eaten by Sephardic Jews. There are a number of vegetarian versions of traditionally meaty foods-- vegetable kabobs and "virtual" burgers--and also a few "lightened" recipes.

This doesn't strike me as a cookbook kids will much want to try: the type is on the small side and the recipes aren't specifically written for beginners. But younger children might enjoy looking at the illustrations and helping to choose recipes. Small pen & ink and watercolor pictures decorate practically every page; they have a playful nursery-rhyme feel to them, showing lots of animal-people--including Pearl the lamb, whom children might recognize from Zalben's other books. A pleasant book to share.

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