Katie Workman—founding editor-in-chief of Cookstr.com and former Clarkson Potter cookbook editor—talks about her first book The Mom 100 Cookbook. She lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.
What are your thoughts on introducing food to kids?
Like so many of us, we have been trained to think of adult and kid flavors. Until recently, basically we told our kids that you eat what we eat. Then along came chicken nuggets and other foods—suddenly there was kid food and adult food. What’s hard is to have a 10 or 12 year old who just won’t eat anything new because you haven’t introduced food to your child.
Try introducing flavors gradually. For example, try doing chicken enchiladas then gradually add spice and other ingredients. At that point, you and your kids are eating the same thing, but at different levels of flavor.
This seems to be exactly what parents want for their kids. But how do you convince a nice Italian boy, say, to eat something as simple as red sauce?
Hm… I get the impression that you might know this boy pretty well? Ask him if he wants to make sauce with you. See if he gets excited about the ownership of it all. Show him a recipe, and say that it’s really a guideline and that you and he will keep tasting as you go along. If you can engage him in cooking, maybe once the sauce is being served he will be proud to not only serve it but to eat it, too.
What do you say to parents—even foodie parents—who, because of their busy schedules, have been a bit lax in introducing their kids to new food?
We parents have a lot of things we can beat ourselves up about. We have to cut ourselves a break, because it’s demoralizing to set standards so high. Give kids new food in small portions—a little bowl with tiny portions. Don’t hover, and don’t be needy. If you have at your table older kids who they think are cool, your kid will eat what that older kid is eating. This is one of the best things about peer pressure.
Did your experiences at either place help or hinder writing a book?
Not an easy answer. This book feels like the culmination of everything that I’ve been doing. I’ve cooked and entertained forever. The collective professional experiences have been gelling in this moment. There is something so different being on one side of the table, and being on the other side of the table. Over the years, people have asked, “do you want to write your own book?” But I know how much goes into it and how hard it is and how much noise there is up there to rise above. And it was daunting at times. In the end it’s a macaroni and cheese recipe, and there are billions of macaroni and cheese recipes out there. What the book comes down to is the voice of the author.
Were you daunted by the other cookbooks out there?
Very. You know, from working in publishing, everyone asks, “what is that author’s platform? Is he or she a famous blogger or a star on the food network?” My background is not insignificant, and this book is resting on the quality of recipes and authenticity, which in a perfect world is a good thing.