Reading a recipe isn't like reading a book. It's a set of instructions for preparing
a food or drink. Once you know how to follow a recipe, you can get cooking!
The recipe name tells you what you'll be making. Some recipes also give a few words
of description about the food or drink. For example, it might say, "Tropical Fruit
Smoothie — a healthy and refreshing summer drink."
Some recipes also include a picture or drawing to show you what the food or drink
will look like when it's done.
The number of servings is important because you probably want to know how much
the recipe will make. For instance, will you have enough muffins for the whole class?
Most kids' recipes make just a few servings because it's easier for kids to work
with smaller amounts of food. But it's easy to make more (a double or triple batch)
or to make less (cut the recipe in half). Ask an adult to help you figure out how
much of each ingredient you'll need.
Some people look at the nutritional analysis (say: noo-TRISH-uh-nul uh-NAL-uh-sis)
of a recipe before deciding to make it. This tells you how many calories one serving
of the recipe contains. It also might list:
This information can be especially important for kids and adults who must follow
special diets to stay healthy.
Time tells you about how long it will take to prepare the recipe. This is good
to know because then you'll know how much time you'll need. And, if you're making
dinner, you'll know how early you'll have to start making it.
Most recipes for kids don't take a lot of time to prepare. Some recipes will have
the time divided into two parts: prep time and cooking time.
Prep (short for "preparation") time is when you'll be busy in the kitchen. You'll
be mixing, mashing, stirring, and doing whatever else the recipe's instructions say
Cooking time is when the food is actually in the oven or on the stove top. (Remember
that when a recipe uses the oven or stove top, you'll need your adult assistant.)
With some recipes, you don't need to do anything during the cooking time. You can
hang out nearby, do homework, or set the table. But with other recipes, you might
need to stir or check on something every so often.
This is a list of all the items you'll need to make the recipe. Most ingredient
lists in kids' recipes are easy to follow. Some even have drawings, so there might
be a picture showing exactly how many cups of flour or eggs you will need.
Sometimes a recipe will also include special ingredient information like:
optional ingredients, which aren't critical for the recipe, but can be used for
added flavor or to make the recipe a little bit different
ingredients without a specific measurement. It might say, "Salt, to taste." This
means you can add as much or little as you like to the recipe. A little usually goes
a long way. And if it's not enough, you can always add more. You can't, however, take
it back if you put in too much.
Some ingredient lists may tell you what you need to do before you even get to the
directions. For example, "one cucumber, thinly sliced" or "one egg, beaten."
Finally, some recipes may suggest ways that you can change the recipe by using
different ingredients. This can be helpful if you're out of a certain ingredient or
to an ingredient (a kid who is allergic to nuts can make cookies with raisins in them
instead, for example).
The directions tell you the steps you need to take to make the recipe. Always
read the directions first, from start to finish. Doing this will tell you:
if you need your adult assistant's help
if there's anything you don't understand
Preheating the oven is an important first step and you'll need an adult to help
you. In many recipes, the directions are numbered or written on separate lines to
make them easier to understand and follow. Some kids' recipes will have drawings here,
too. For example, these drawings may show you how to roll out dough, grease a pan,
or mix batter.
Some recipes suggest ways of serving the dish you are making or other foods to
serve alongside it. For example, a homemade salsa recipe might say, "Serve with whole-grain
tortilla chips for dipping." A grilled chicken recipe might say, "Serve with brown
rice and asparagus spears."
But you are the chef, so you can decide how you want to serve your creation. Good
luck and bon appétit — that's French for "enjoy your food"!/p>