Available after Barbara's lecture: "The Missing Ingredient" or "Home Cooking: 10 Fun & Easy Ways to Make it Happen" or contact Barbara at SBSoulFood at Yahoo (.com) and write WOW in the subject line



WOW! LOOK WHO’S COOKING! That’s what mom will say when she walks in the kitchen and sees that dinner is a done deal!

If you have a few minutes, here’s a fun story that tells you how the book came to be, how we know the recipes are totally kid-friendly even thought they’re really healthy, why they’re so super simple even a dad who doesn’t cook can make them and do we really need testimonials to know mom’s gonna love this? I don’t think so! So on with the story…

When it came time for my son to graduate from grade school and move onto middle school there were rumors of holding him back. The teachers as well as the other parents were in on the conspiracy. It wasn’t due to poor performance; Academically and emotionally, he was ready.

The problem stemmed from the fact that he was enrolled in one of those alternative schools. The kind where parents commit to volunteering a couple of hours a week in the classroom as well as participating on some committee or being a part of the Earth Day Celebration or Winter Sing or some such thing.

As much as I love gardening I hate pulling weeds and even though Science with Dotty looked like way more fun than ever when I was in school, I couldn’t imagine being of any help at all creating fun experiments that didn’t back fire in one way or another. So, when asked to volunteer, I asked if I could teach the kids how to cook. The teachers were elated. After all, how many women my age even knew when to turn a pancake over?

Since I was a caterer it never occurred to me to look up recipes in kids cook books. We moved right on to brochette, terrines and soups, using up whatever left-over ingredients I had from the last cocktail party.

The soups turned out to be a big hit. They were the perfect way to use up lots of ingredients and chopping all those vegetables gave everyone something to do. And everyone it seemed wanted something to do! We had to divide the allotted time into 2 or 3 sections in order to give all those a chance who wanted to participate.

The parents who were also volunteering that morning also loved it because we usually made plenty to share. Parents who weren’t there on Friday mornings when we had “Exploratorium” were mystified and would stop me after school asking how I got their child to eat vegetables?

“You’re kidding!” I replied. “Natalie doesn’t like vegetables?” I just couldn’t imagine Natalie putting up a fight over eating vegetables! Her mom is a great cook and like most of the families at school, bought local fresh produce. After 5 years of cooking with kids a teen-ager finally solved this mystery, but that’s another story.

On a personal note: My son likes everything but zucchini, no matter how I disguise it. One day while having lunch at the kind of school where they serve cupcake toppings on the already sweetened yogurt and packaged pizzas with cheese that bounces—a kid demonstrated this for me by rolling it into a ball—and grilled cheese sandwiches that kids didn’t finish…go figure!….a little boy seriously thought my son was eating grass in his sandwich. He explained they were sprouts. Till this day we wonder what makes the cheese bounce like that. Maybe its not really cheese one kid astutely observed.

Due to popular demand I began teaching kids how to cook outside of the classroom. So I really got to know what kids would eat and more importantly why they wouldn’t eat  what they wouldn’t eat.  I enjoy asking kids questions because they tend to answer really honestly. Like when I asked my after school class, why don’t you think grown-ups like to cook? After all, it’s totally fun, right? Teddy, the junior iron chef , quickly responded, “Because they don’t know how!” Smiling brightly, he knew he’d hit upon the answer. A short time later, the youngest girl in the class who had been giving this some thought said, “You know, if they’d start when they were our age, they would like it!”

This was the answer I’d been seeking, ever since I read the cover story on the Wall Street Journal stating that this could be the first generation in which parents outlived their children. Why? Because obesity and diabetes, both diet related were so out of control. At that point I decided to quit playing small and get this information out there, somehow.

  • I know kids like to cook. To them, it’s not a chore. It’s more like an art project; it’s something they actually enjoy.
  • I know that under the right circumstances, children and teens will eat vegetables.
  • I know that with a little supervision they can make most anything those celebrity chefs can make!
  • I know that cooking dinner for their family builds their self esteem because they know they’re making a contribution to the health and well-being of their entire family.
  • I know that learning to cook is a valuable life skill that will  not only ease their transition into adulthood, it will drastically increase their quality of life.
  • I also know that if they don’t learn how to cook, they’ll be dependent on processed, packaged food designed for profit—no matter how healthy the label claims it is!

I know that when you know how to prepare fresh food you’ll eat a lot less of the stuff that your body doesn’t have any use for and you’ll actually require less food overall because when you do eat, you’ll get what you came to the table for…you won’t find yourself craving more food a short time later because what you believed was in there just wasn’t in there.

What you’re really craving just doesn’t exist in packaged, processed food designed for profit.

But that’s another story…back to camping…

One of the requirements of the alternative school as mentioned earlier is lots of parent participation.  Two unique aspects of our school was that we went camping a lot. It was a fabulous way for the parents to bond and we really got the concept it takes a community to raise a child. By the time graduation rolled around each year and even during the many singing performances, we all felt proud of each of the children on stage whose lives we’d been actively enrolled in.

The other aspect of our school was that we were super environmentally conscious, so when I attended my first all school camp-out I was shocked to see the mountains of trash we were generating because the parent in charge bought everything including spaghetti sauce at the where house discount store.

My catering business was also eco-friendly. People who cooked with me were often amazed that I could cook for 80 people and only create one grocery sized bag of actual trash. Most was composted and the rest recycled. I too was proud of this fact.

Historical note: When I was a student in the South of France I lived with a wonderful family who made tomato sauce with fresh herbs just picked from their own garden, tomatoes from the farmers market and garlic beautifully braided and hanging in the kitchen. No wonder they created only one grocery-sized bag of trash all week long!

So—prompted by this obvious challenge, I volunteered to provision and prepare all the food on the next camp-out….and the next…and the next…and the next…

These recipes are so easy you can make them without a kitchen!

(o.k. so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you don’t need a lot of fancy tools)

By my last week-long Science Camp they literally had to turn parents away. One parent said, “but I eat better this week than all the rest of the year!” All things considered, I’m sure there were many reasons for using up a week of vacation time to be with 30 children in the middle of nowhere…but I still like to think it was “the religious experience” one mom said she was having after eating my Mac & Cheese. We even add broccoli to it and guess what? The kids eat it!

Now if we can make these recipes in the middle of nowhere you can too! We’re talking no Cuisanart. No running water. Just a collection of camp stoves, lot’s of ice and plenty of volunteers, mostly kids.

Alright, I admit, I brought my good knives, but if  I can make these recipes in the middle of nowhere and get kids to eat their veggies, don’t you think you might be able to do the same in the comfort of your own home? I know, now you’re thinking, but you’re a professional chef! Yes, but remember, as the head chef, I mostly supervise—and I tested them out. Not just on kids. I know kids can cook.

These recipes are so easy I call them dad-do-able.

I tested them out on a dad, asking him to make each one, I watched, I answered questions and made adjustments and clarifications as needed. In the end, even this single dad who admittedly was sick of micro-wave burritos was able to make everyone of the recipes in WOW! LOOK WHO’S COOKING!

One last story. The reason I specifically compiled the recipes in Wow! Look Who’s Cooking is because one day when leaving school I noticed two of my favorite moms standing out by the curb chatting. Commiserating actually, you know that look when moms are totally overwhelmed by just a few too many things to do that day. Sorry Steven Covey but those success tips from the last century just don’t seem to work in the 21st century! There are just too many priorities and way too much information. Like, how do you choose from the 8 billion recipes you can find online these days?

In any case both moms were agreeing how hard it is to come home at the end of the work day usually around 5:30-6:00 and the first thing their kids say, with that forlorn look of course, is we’re hungry.

Not, “Hi mom! how was your day?” Nope, still sitting on the couch with dad, who’s been home for more than an hour already, they all turn their heads to mom and ask, When’s dinner?

Again, I question the reality of this scenario. These kids have been in my after school class. They not only know how to cook, they love to cook. So, what’s missing here?

Final answer: Someone to supervise them!  They just need a coach in the kitchen!

They don’t need dad to cook, just to supervise. They do need someone to purchase the ingredients and have them available, but other than that all they need is 30-40 minutes, a few good tools and someone to make sure they keep it safe. Though I have to tell you, after cooking with me, these kids would remind their parents to “make the wall” when using a French chef knife.

Yes, unlike the dumbed down recipes found in most kids cook books, these recipes require the handling of actual culinary tools. And flames. No microwaves allowed. That’s another story. But if the idea is that they develop some healthy skills to carry with them into adulthood, they’re going to need to learn to chop vegetables.

They’re also going to need to learn the value of cooking in a beautiful space. My kitchen is my studio. It’s my temple. I adorn it with fresh flowers, beautiful fresh produce and of course, music that makes me feel like singing or dancing or both. This is a sure way to make sure good vibes are going into the food, which is never usually an issue where children are involved.

So, taking on the dilemma of these working moms I compiled

  • the top 10 healthy recipes most requested by the kids
  • recipes that are simple enough to make even if you don’t have a kitchen like the ones in Architectural Digest
  • and recipes so easy to master even a dad who doesn’t know how to cook can enjoy them

Then, I put them into a cook book and called it:


Then just for fun I added a few bonuses:

    • 2 more recipes that require a little more time, these are better suited for a weekend with friends. More on that in the book.
    • My Tools You Can Use recommendations.: only what is really essential to preparing a meal without the stress of a dull and therefore dangerous knife or a spatula that will melt in the skillet if you leave it in there too long…
    • Mom’s favorite bonus ( I borrowed this one from my summer camp): Cleanup Steps 1-10—chipping away at it in this order takes away the overwhelm and most of the clean-up can be done even before dinner.
    • 10 Safety Tips, like always have supervision
    • Right brain format—for you creative types who hate to get boggled down in the text, every recipe is also formatted into a flow chart to serve as a simple reminder of what happens with what and when. This is all you will need after the first couple of times because these meals are fabulous because they’re fresh,  not because they’re complicated!
    • And of course a few more stories intertwined into the recipes themselves

25 years worth of recipes, narrowed down to a nice little repertoire of just 10 easily prepared, easily memorized recipes you can enjoy for the rest of your  life! absolutely fabulous, tried-and-true dad-do-able, kid-friendly, healthy recipes. 12 recipes in all,  including the special ones that take a little more time.

“The most indispensable ingredient in all good home cooking:

Love, for those you are cooking for.”

–Sophia Loren

However…when you purchase WOW! LOOK WHO’S COOKING!

You will automatically be subscribed to The Missing Ingredient in which I will share lots of cooking lore, quotes and even research that will thoroughly satisfy your left brain if your right brain isn’t already inspired enough to learn the joy of cooking. A friend of mine, an executive director in her 40’s  thought “The Joy of Cooking” was a joke!

After joining me and a few friends in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons where we multi-tasked menu preparation, girl talk, wine education and the joy of only having to clean up once after prepping meals for the first half of the week, she was sold! Multi menu prep is just one of the many things I learned not from catering but from cooking in a restaurant and it’s one of the tips I’ll share with you when you order


You’ll begin receiving The Missing Ingredient, every other week, on line, beginning in September of 2009. There will also be some free recipes along the way—the ones I find so incredible and so simple to make—they usually involve 5 or less ingredients—I don’t understand why anyone would settle for the store bought version! Oh! Like my truly home made caramel sauce! But that’s another story…

“Who would have thought home made pesto could be so easy?!”

(My son, age 13, truly amazed at his own culinary skills)

For less than the price of a bad pizza you can purchase


…and learn my families secret pizza bread recipe given to my mom by a chef from a famous Italian pizza restaurant in Chicago!!! I swear I would pay $9.99 just for this recipe! Even kids who won’t eat tomatoes will eat this incredibly easy to make pizza that uses fresh tomatoes! This is the kind of meal my mom used to have to divide up to be fair and when I cooked at a sorority at UCSB the girls would wait for it to come out of the oven! This recipe alone will save you hundreds of dollars on bad pizza that does little more than fill your belly. If instead you want to truly wow your taste buds purchase


Wow! Is also fabulous for college students, singles an anyone who wants to eat better, for less money—these are the kinds of recipes I can’t even order when eating out because I know I can make them in about 20 minutes for a fourth of the cost, using the best possible ingredients! I guarantee you will amaze yourself when you learn how easy it can be to prepare a meal that’s infinitely better than anything you can buy in a package!

“People don’t need to learn how to cook; they need to remember how to eat.”

When you do, the cooking just falls into place. It’s not that hard once you’re inspired. Of course it helps to have a good teacher. Wow! Gives you a repertoire of the basics from Mexican to Italian, Asian to All American; your taste buds will not get bored! Nor will they be overwhelmed with anything too exotic. Let’s face it, most children don’t like too much flavor impact because their taste buds are so sensitive still. So, we go for variety without too much flavor sensation. It’s a tricky balance. I couldn’t have learned it from my only child. He’s preferred sharp cheddar and feta since he was pre-verbal. Someone gave him a bite of the sliced individually wrapped “cheese food” when he was two and after a bite he left it on the counter top. But an entire school of little taste buds and a culinary summer camp for teens has taught me what works. This collection of the most requested recipes by children and adults alike is the musical equivalent of being able to play just a little tune or two on the Baby Grand.