The Bottom Line
This quote from her spoke to me:
“Family life is chaotic—there’s just no way around it. So, I decided, why not embrace it? I’m a problem solver by trade and temperament; how hard could it be to do the family thing and see friends, too? Through a little trial and error I found that I didn’t have to give up my former life, just reinvent it a little.”
I only wish she'd included more play date themes. The ideas she gives are great. I was just hungry for more.
- The book's concept is brilliant. What a great way to interact with your friends and your kids.
- If you're short on time, the recipes come with suggestions for ready-made substitutions.
- There’s a tip at the bottom of each recipe that suggests which steps the kids can handle.
- Beautiful photography.
- Recipes appeal to both kids and adults.
- If you're a neat freak or a control freak, throwing a kitchen play date might stress you out.
- Not a con, just a note: book is heavier on recipes than play date themes, activities and decor.
- Kitchen Playdates
- Author: Lauren Bank Deen
- Photographer: Tina Rupp
- 184 pages
- Published by Chronicle Books in 2007
- ISBN: 0-8118-5539-2
Guide Review - A Book About Play Dates in the Kitchen
Kitchen Playdates is a cookbook by Lauren Bank Deen with ideas for playdates scattered inside. For each kitchen playdate, Deen (whose background involves producing lifestyle television programs for Martha Stewart, the Food Network and the like) suggests a menu, activities and decorations.
So what is a kitchen play date? Deen defines it as a play date that includes grownups, great food and—if you’re up for it—a cooking project with the kids.
She began hosting them in her home after coming to grips with the fact that she, her husband and their friends no longer could linger in good restaurants or hip bars on Saturday nights, oblivious to what time it was or whether they needed to get a babysitter.
Still yearning to interact with her friends but also wanting to include their young children in their social life, she began cooking up great meals and inviting everyone to pitch in.
“The kids help, and the adults help,” Deen writes in her introduction. “When you want a little time with just the adults, send the kids into the other room to snap beans, twist pretzels out of pizza dough or do an art project. It’s a fresh change from stressed-out entertaining or ordering in the same old Chinese food.”
Deen sounds like a great friend to have around. Before writing Kitchen Playdates, she put her culinary arts degree and years of experience as a caterer to use hosting cooking lessons for friends in her kitchen. She also spends one day a month in her son’s kindergarten classroom teaching the kids how to cook something related to what they’re learning in school.
You might not have Deen herself in your social circle, but there’s no reason why you can’t start organizing cooking gatherings yourself. Kitchen Playdates shows you how.
Some of my favorite ideas in the book:
- Videotaping a “cooking show” in your kitchen with your children’s grandparents. Oh, what I would give to have a video of my Italian nana making pizza and cannoli with me as a kid.
- A slumber party playdate, where the menu is breakfast food and everyone wears pajamas.
- A pizza-making party, where everyone makes their own pie.