Cookbook review: Cook up family togetherness

"Raised in the Kitchen: Making Memories from Scratch One Recipe at a Time" by Carrian Cheney (Shadow Mountain Publishing, $21.99)
"Raised in the Kitchen: Making Memories from Scratch One Recipe at a Time" by Carrian Cheney (Shadow Mountain Publishing, $21.99)

“Raised in the Kitchen: Making Memories From Scratch One Recipe at a Time” by Carrian Cheney (Shadow Mountain, $21.99)

There are cooks who shoo their kids out of the kitchen until dinner’s ready. And then there’s Carrian Cheney, who regularly enlists all three of her offspring to assist.

Claire, Peyton, and Grayson — ages 15, 10 and 5, respectively — are depicted with their mom behind the counter of their gleaming Utah kitchen on the cover of “Raised in the Kitchen: Making Memories From Scratch One Recipe at a Time” (Shadow Mountain, $21.99). But they’re not just part of a cute photo op. They all contribute their thoughts and culinary tips throughout the chapters for breakfast, bread, sides, pasta and pizza, main dishes, and desserts. Cheney’s husband, Cade, and her mom and dad chip in as well.

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Involving the whole family in kitchen activities is part of a parenting philosophy she shares on her popular blog Oh, Sweet Basil. It hasn’t always been easy. Many messes have occurred. And that’s OK by her.

Cooking together is “about time and connecting, so let the dish fail, but don’t give up on your kids or yourself,” Cheney writes. She drops other bits of advice before proceeding to the recipes: Set boundaries. Assign age-appropriate tasks. And don’t stress.

Recipes blend elements of her farm-to-table Pacific Northwest upbringing (Cheesy Pesto Pasta) with her husband’s Southern background (Fall-Off-the-Bones Ribs). Decadent treats balance the healthier stuff. And lessons in knife skills, potato-peeling, bread-kneading, and curing picky-eating are sprinkled throughout.

Tex-Mex Salad with Ranch-Tomatillo Dressing is a one-dish crowd-pleaser with tasks for all ages: lettuce-tearing for toddlers, vegetable-dicing for tweens, beef-cooking for teens. I tossed everything together in a giant bowl for a group of open-minded grown-ups and everyone loved it.

But if you have a finicky little brother, you can take a tip from 10-year-old Peyton: Arrange the ingredients separately on big salsa-and-chip platters so everyone can build their own salad. “That way, Grayson can skip the corn and take extra cheese and I can load up on all of it.”

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