One of the first recipes I learned to make on my own was the one my mom uses to make peanut butter cookies. It comes from Marion Cunningham's Fannie Farmer Baking Book, and for years, the page of that recipe was marked by a piece of plastic. I think it was the corner my mom cut off a bag of brown sugar, one of that recipe's ingredients. It makes the most delicious peanut butter cookies I've ever tried. I always assumed that Fannie Farmer was a made up name like Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima, and it wasn't until I read this wonderful picture book, Fannie in the Kitchen, by Deborah Hopkinson, that I learned differently. It is a sort of historical fiction picture book about Fannie Merritt Farmer who is responsible for creating modern recipes with standardized and levelled measurements. Rather than tell Fannie Farmer's entire life story, Hopkinson creates a story about Fannie working as a mother's helper and teaching Marcia, the daughter of the house, to cook and deal with the birth of a new baby in the house. Hopkinson does include that Farmer went on to write a book of recipes and to teach at the Boston Cooking School. Fannie Farmer's actual cooking tips are sprinkled throughout the book and an easy to follow recipe for griddle cakes is included at the end.
I must mention the excellent illustrations by Nancy Carpenter. They perfectly capture the feeling of the late 19th century. They have both a sense of authenticity and fun.
This is, to be honest, a book that will appeal more to girls than boys. The eight and 38 year old girls in my house just love it.