My husband and I are always looking for ways to merge education with everyday activities. It’s one of the reasons I do so much cooking around here- you can incorporate math, chemistry, nutrition and reading all into one activity. But cooking from The Astronaut’s Cookbook takes it one step further by letting you join astronomy, history and more. Our son is three and while many people think that may be too young to learn about space, I would have to disagree. Never underestimate the power of young minds! Andrew can tell you that Mars has two moons- Phobos and Diemos. I didn’t know this before. My husband taught my son and my son taught me while we were looking through this cookbook! The book serves several purposes- it is a cookbook for me, an educational tool for my son and an interesting book of tales my husband enjoys reading with my son.
The book includes something for everybody. If you are vegetarian, check out the Kidney Bean Burgers on page 192. But don’t let that scare you away if you are not into healthy eating, there are plenty of recipes for those of us that eat meat like Paula Hall’s Chipotle-Lime Marinated Grilled Porkchops or SS Sliced Beef With BBQ Sauce. There are recipes for those that like Southern food like Linda and Dick Gordon’s Crawfish Etoufee and Gloria Mongan’s Kahlua Grilled Shrimp on Angel Hair Pasta. Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray have collaborated with NASA to come up with tasty recipes that are compatible in microgravity and those recipes are in here as well. I’ll probably end up trying Rachel’s Spicy Thai Chicken with Red Peppers and Basil first.
The cookbook isn’t what I expected, it’s better. It does tell you how to make astronaut ice cream if you’re interested (although it was actually unpopular with the astronauts) but it certainly does not focus on dehydrated or freeze-dried meals only. There are several, several recipes in here you can make for your family without special equipment. The book also explains the how and why behind food consumed in space, such as what is safe (anything with an excessive crumb factor is not ), but also includes interesting and funny anecdotal information about various astronauts’ tastes, complaints and desires. Not only do you get the recipe, but you also get to know the various astronauts through reading this book.
The book is excellent for parents but educators will find this cookbook useful and interesting when it comes to lesson planning as well. For example, microgravity can be explained while demonstrating various ways the astronauts eat in space. That is what I did with my son today. First I went to the store and got a few things- zipperlock bags, labels, Velcro and various space-okay snacks. Then we made a little “space shuttle snack station”.
We used dehydrated apricots, yogurt covered almonds, alphabet cookies (there is a recipe for butter cookies in the cookbook but we need to eat these up first) and alphabet cereal. I explained to Andrew how the astronauts eat cereal with powdered milk and a bag in space. You’ll have to read the book to learn how they do this, I don’t want to spoil all the surprises! We used Velcro tabs to attach the bags to the snack station then put Velcro tabs on his shirt so he could attach the snack packs to his body astronaut style! I suppose I could have made it a little more realistic if I had a vacuum sealer but I’m dealing with what I have. Andrew really enjoyed it regardless!
I really encourage your household to invest in this cookbook especially if you are space fanatics! You will really like it. If you are an educator, I think you will find plenty of source material in here for class projects, activities, etc. and plenty of recipes you can cook for yourself at home. I think anytime you can buy a book that serves a dual purpose, it’s a good investment. In this case the book serves more than a dual purpose in my opinion. History buffs, sci-fi enthusiasts, gastronomical cooking whizzes and more will be inspired by this one-of-a-kind cookbook!