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Encourage Your Kids to Read by Cooking With Them!

It is important for parents of young children to make reading practice an integral part of every day. An especially fun way to sneak in some extra reading practice is to cook with your kids! An extra side benefit is the memories you make together this way. Just this morning I was remembering the great times my daughter and I had baking together as she was growing up. When she was young, she would read the parts of the recipe that she was able to and ask for help on the unfamiliar words. She was extra-motivated to read since she was doing something rewarding.

I recently caught up with Heather Wallace and Lucinda Wallace, who co-wrote a cookie recipe book entitled, 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes. The recipes in their newly-released book have fun-sounding names like "Root Beer Frosties," "Polka Dot Brownies," and "Peanut Butter Mud Puddles"...perfect names for enticing young ones to try their hand at baking!

Lucinda and Heather, both life-long cooks, have happy memories of cooking with their mothers. Lucinda recalls, "My mom always loved to cook. I remember her happy, humming a tune, and bustling around the kitchen. That warm feeling that she brought to the kitchen made it an inviting place to be. Watching Mom cook led to acting as her helper. I would have to say that this is when my love of cooking began." Forty years later, she still loves whipping up new creations.

Heather remembers that her love of cooking began with a Christmas tradition. "As far back as I can remember, my mom, Lucinda, and I have spent the days leading up to the holiday in the kitchen listening to Christmas music while baking batches of our favorite cookies. She really fostered a sense of fun during those baking sessions and showed me that cooking could be an enjoyable activity."

Sitting on a couch with a child, flipping through a cook book, making plans of what to bake up that afternoon can be half of the fun. Reading the titles, ingredient lists, looking recipes up in the index are all practical reading experiences. Flipping through the Wallaces' book lead to so many yummy-sounding cookies that I just had to ask them what their personal favorite recipe was. The answer sounded delicious: Colossal Double Chocolate White Chip Cookies! Lucinda says that she enjoys them served how most kids do: still warm from the oven with a glass of ice cold milk. "That's what I call comfort food. These chewy chocolatey cookies are a huge favorite at our house." She agreed to share the recipe:

Colossal Double Chocolate White Chip Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 cups granulated sugar
1 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
cup white chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking
powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream together butter,
granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat eggs and vanilla extract into
butter mixture. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Stir in milk
chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chips, and nuts.
Drop by level -cupfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking
sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow
cookies to cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire
racks to cool completely.

Before parting, I asked Lucinda if she had any tips for us parents before we go off to bake cookies with young ones. "Cook with someone you love and you will always love to cook," were her sound words of advice!

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