December 27, 2019

Niam! Cooking with Kids

Inspired by the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club
Written by Kerry McCluskey
Inhabit Media
72 pp.
Ages 5-12
December 2019

Any time there is an opportunity to encourage children to learn basic recipes and acquire cooking skills is a chance to help youth become independent, feed themselves and others, and gain confidence in trying new things. For many, the holidays is a great time for cooking with children, whether it is baking cookies as gifts or to have at home for visitors or learning how to work in a kitchen and prepare meals for the family.  The Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club, a weekly after-school program at Nanook School in Apex, Nunavut, kid-tested all these recipes to ensure hearty concoctions that were both tasty and fun to make.
From Niam! Cooking with Kids by Kerry McCluskey
The cookbook provides background on starting a children's cooking club, as well as a glossary of basic terms and measurements. The recipes cover seventeen dishes from smoothies and snacks like sandwiches, mini quiches, and palaugos, to main courses such as chili, bird fingers, jerk chicken, pizza and meatlove. Several sweet treats such as love muffins, and sugar and gingerbread cookies are also included.
From Niam! Cooking with Kids by Kerry McCluskey
Because the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club is located in Nunavut, there are some ingredients like the recommended seal or muskox meat for the ground meat in meatlove that may be perplexing to readers from away. But that just means that these recipes can be used as opportunities to teach young readers about cultural differences, bringing communities together. Community involvement is a big thing for Kerry McCluskey who finds ways to involve her own community in the club's activities. For example, an Iqaluit resident Joanna Awa talked to the kids about the importance of seals to the Inuit and a portion of this discussion is included with the meatlove recipe. Moreover, no worries if you don't have seal meat or ptarmigan in your freezer–Kerry McCluskey always uses generic ingredients like ground meat or poultry so that anyone can try out these recipes.
From Niam! Cooking with Kids by Kerry McCluskey
When people come together to cook, good things happen. Good food, teamwork, skills development, and confidence are all positive outcomes of cooking with kids. With Niam! Cooking with Kids reinforcing that premise while highlighting the specific efforts of the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club, children everywhere are encouraged to join these young Nunavut chefs in the kitchen and make a difference in all their lives, one dish at a time.

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