Most kids don’t need much enticement to get involved in the kitchen. The sensory experience alone is what draws them in: the thunk of the wooden spoon against the bowl, the yeasty pop of bread as it is kneaded and squished.
But let’s say you have a 6-year-old on your hands for an afternoon, and want to get her excited, specifically, about fermentation.
You’ve now got a new tool: a charming 2011 kids’ book called Suzie’s Sourdough Circus ($9.95 USD).
The story tells of a girl named Suzie who makes sourdough bread with her dad every week. Suzie likens the family’s sourdough starter to a bunch of tiny pets that lay dormant in the refrigerator until it’s time to start baking. When she adds warm water and flour to the bacteria and yeasts, she imagines the little critters waking up and putting on a show. They splash around in their warm pool, blowing bubbles and hamming it up, circus-style.
Author Kathy Sager, a Canadian early childhood educator with a background in nutrition, delivers the story in Suzie’s voice using spare and peppy rhyming text. Illustrations by Eliska Liska are animé in flavour, enhancing the book’s imaginative appeal whether kids read it by the bedside or at the kitchen table.
Recipes at the end of the book are optional, but fun: they include sourdough bannock (a gold miner’s favourite breakfast, apparently) and chocolate-vanilla marble sourdough cake (which Suzie likes on her birthday). The instructions specify: “Grown-ups, always ask a kid to help you.” Not a bad maxim for any fermentation project.