As competitive cooking and baking shows with pint-sized contestants continue to pop up on television, it’s no wonder why sisters Esme, 12, and Calista Washburn, 17, were inspired to cook up a little book of their own to help young cooking enthusiasts and future chefs. 

The sisters entered the world of publishing with “20 Recipes Kids Should Know,” a collaborative effort between Esme, a middle-schooler and amateur chef, and Calista, a recent high school graduate and aspiring photographer. 

Esme’s passion for preparing delicious dishes was sparked by her grandmother, who taught her how to cook. Those lessons in the kitchen laid the foundation for what has become an avid interest in culinary arts, which continues to blossom as Esme gets older. 

“She started teaching me when I was little, and many of my favorite memories are of cooking with her,” Esme said in the book. “As I got older, I started to read cookbooks from cover to cover, as if I was reading a chapter book.”

Big sister Calista not only provided a vivid portrait of each finished recipe, but also helped her little sister in the kitchen by sampling all of the recipes Esme created.

The girls, who reside in New York, realized that there was a need for a simple-to-follow cookbook that provided kids with basic cooking skills and easy, step-by-step instructions for complete meals. 

“Many of the cookbooks made for kids consisted of random recipes for snacks and sweets —and didn’t actually teach you how to make a meal,” said Esme. 

“20 Recipes Kids Should Know” offers its young readers detailed cooking instructions, safety tips, a measurement guide and a checklist to follow prior to starting a recipe and after its completion, as well as a glossary of terms and cooking techniques – all of which help make the cooking process fun and easy.

Filled with classic, gourmet recipes like Pancakes Two Ways, Creamiest Mac and Cheese, Mouthwatering Marinated Steak, Amazing Mashed Potatoes, Easy As Apple Pie (with a made-from-scratch crust), and Super Strawberry Shortcake (pictured), young cooks can expand their culinary skills by choosing breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, side dish and dessert categories. 

Esme’s unique commentary colorfully illustrates each recipe. Throughout the cookbook, she shares a glimpse of her family life by attaching individual memories to each dish, along with storage tips, options for alternative ingredients and recommendations for garnishes.

Young readers on every cooking level won’t be disappointed. “20 Recipes Kids Should Know” builds a solid foundation of cooking skills that will give kids a sense of accomplishment in the kitchen and set future chefs on the path to a successful culinary career.

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