Reviewed by Katy Killilea
I hate it that this almost escaped my attention. This little book has had little to no publicity, and that's scandalous–parents need this book. It is, in many ways, the ideal cookbook for people who care about food AND have kids AND have fresh produce, condiments like soy sauce and curry paste, and oddball pantry items like soba noodles and gnocchi handy.
Some of its more specific charms:
1. Combo Meals: In this book, the expression refers to simple kids' meals that can be tweaked based on the diner's tolerance for complexity. Some in the family will want the lemon-caper sauce, others won't. Some will want their quiche with chard and dried cherries, others will stick with the plain (egg, cheese, crust) variety. The author respects a spectrum of yumminess beliefs.
2. Focus on simplicity: These recipes contain no romanticized kid-food b.s. Of an allegedly family-friendly book with meals that would take over 45 minutes to prepare Davis writes, "My friend Kamy showed me a cookbook for kids and it totally freaked me out." And 90% of Davis's recipes can be made with things we normally have on hand.
3. My Kind of Healthy: tofu and hijiki and seitan, yes. And lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. But also: plenty of butter and sweets. And lots of Mexican stuff.
4. Using the best, freshest foods, and wasting as little as possible: because if you're going to the trouble to get great produce, it shouldn't wind up in your compost pile! ("Try to use what's seasonal, or just use whatever's in the bottom drawer of your fridge...")
5. Irrelevant quirky trivia: the author is a director of Grey's Anatomy and is married to Mike D of the Beastie Boys.
All this, plus coconut milk tapioca pudding? It's almost too good to be true. Tamra Davis's web site offers a few recipes in video format. These videos share the ethos of the book--there's Tamra doing yoga behind the sofa while her kids watch Sesame Street, and there she is, tugging on a pair of pants and then competently cooking something plain yet wonderful. Meanwhile the disheveled, adorable children run around the apartment. What more can we ask for in a cookbook than great food for real life?
Make Me Something Good To Eat
by Tamra Davis