Looking for a simple, no-nonsense cookbook for kids? Look for Betty Crocker, and you can't go too wrong. She may be old-fashioned but it beats the heck out of bulgur burgers -- offered by one of the new kiddie cookbooks this season.
This year's selections are as diverse as a yuppie handbook to fancy foods to an updated version of Betty Crocker's old standby. There's even a low-fat, low-cholesterol cookbook available, for children (and the parents) concerned about such things.
"Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook" (Prentice Hall Press, $9.95) is just what you might imagine -- a softcover, spiral-bound compendium of recipes for young people, featuring lots of nifty photographs.
The recipes also are about what you would expect, although some seem somewhat condescending, such as an "Apple-Cheese Snack" which involves cutting up an apple, adding a few chunks of hard cheese, and serving "right away." Even my 2-year-old could figure that much out, without using a recipe. The other snack offerings are better conceived.
"Alphabet Soup" by Abbie Zabar (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $14.95) doesn't offer any recipes but it does define a wide range of culturally diverse dishes. Beginning with A, for antipasto, and munching along through D for dim sum, P for primeurs (you know -- those itty-bitty baby veggies "often no bigger than dolls' food"), S for Sushi, and finally Z, for zabaglione. It's an unreal book that might have been more appropriate in the mid-'80s when children clamored for more radicchio in their servings of mixed greens.
Another softcover, spiral-bound cookbook is "Cooking Wizardry for Kids" by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams (Barron's, $12.95). Instead of photographs, it features some cartoonish drawings in a dull reddish-brown ink with blue type for the text. The illustrations do nothing to pique one's interest or appetite. And with such a hefty volume (314 pages), it all seems a bit overwhelming from a young cook's standpoint.
The last book is really designed for parents who want to provide their children with "Quick and Easy Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Recipes Kids Will Love," by Bea Lewis (Avon Books, $3.95). It's all very admirable but if your children are like mine, they wouldn't go near a "Seafood Chowder," low- -- cholesterol or not. And let's face it, a hamburger mixed with bulgur wheat is still a hamburger.