Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil (Weekend Reads)

Cooking with my kids is something I do almost daily. I started when they were toddlers, more or less as soon as they could stand beside me in the kitchen. We've included knives from the beginning, and so much more. I thought I was pretty great, cooking with them. I wrote about it many times, I spouted off advice to anyone who would listen. I thought I was a bit of a rock-star mom. Then I read Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil by Kim Foster.

If I am a rock star mom then Kim is the royal family, the Queen Mum. She makes potato chips from scratch and then volunteered to teach a preschool class in a Harlem public school how to cook. Then she lived to write about it.

And by teaching these kids to cook I don't mean she set about to mix up some chocolate chip cookies or press the button on the food processor to make hummus. She made dumplings and spring rolls, pastry, cheese, stocks for soups, and all this after starting with meatballs. She is equal parts brave and insane.

I love her so much.

Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil is her self-published e-book documenting her year with the kids in the Harlem public school. But it also about documenting her changing relationship with her oldest daughter and her own relationship with cooking and enjoying food.

Kim is honest, funny to the point of downright hysterical, and speaks what the rest of us only think when it comes to personal criticism and relationships. I would kill to drink wine with her if only to hear her voice. And get all the stories that didn't make the book.

This book also includes recipes and some intensely personal admissions. I literally laughed and cried - what a cliche - through the book. But I did and so will you. And then you will want to make Chocolate Kumquat Spring Rolls and sit around the table with your family and a roast chicken. Because that is what Kim does, she makes cooking and people real, so real that you need to become a part of it too. Just like the kids she worked with did.