Preschool teacher writes interactive children’s cookbook
BY Jackie Pilossoph Special to Sun-Times Media April 12, 2013 6:52PM
Wendy Burdeen, who has worked at the Buffalo Grove Park District preschool for 18 years, wrote the interactive cookbook, "Please Don't Make Me Eat a Finger Sandwich." | Photo by Jackie Pilossoph
Updated: May 14, 2013 6:02AM
BUFFALO GROVE — Ask a young child if he or she has ever eaten ants on a log and you’ll probably get a reaction of shock and disgust. Same goes for pigs in a blanket, garbage salad or monkey bread.
What kids don’t realize is that these are names of real foods, and in Wendy Burdeen’s new interactive cookbook, “Please Don’t Make Me Eat a Finger Sandwich,” the Buffalo Grove preschool teacher explains ways to give kids a chance to prepare and enjoy them.
“Cooking teaches so many life skills, including organization, cooperation, following directions, literacy and math and science,” said Burdeen, who has worked at the Buffalo Grove Park District preschool for 18 years. “Plus, these days everything is so fast-paced and no one goes into the kitchen anymore. My book encourages quality time and making something together.”
“Please Don’t Make Me Eat a Finger Sandwich,” which is geared toward 4- to 10-year-olds consists of 30 recipes, all with names of foods that make kids cringe, including deviled eggs, mud pie, fish cakes and elephant ears, just to name a few. Each recipe has a big space before it for kids to draw a picture of what the recipe looks like to them. Next, they prepare the food with a parent, and lastly, they take a photo of the finished product and paste it in the book.
“I would describe this book as an art book, a cookbook and a keepsake,” said Burdeen, who has lived in Buffalo Grove for 29 years raising her two children here. “It’s meant for the kids to have fun and to take pride in what they’re making and to look back at the book when they’re older.”
Burdeen said writing the book took lots of time and hard work, with everything from cover design, printing, marketing, a website and choosing the best content, of course. She experimented with all the recipes, tweaked some, made some up and had several kids taste the recipes and give their opinions.
Katie Gattone’s 7-year-old daughter Isabelle was one of Burdeen’s students, and helped her with the illustrations in the book.
“If you say to a kid, ‘What is monkey bread?’ and ask the kid to draw it, you will get the funniest picture,” said Gattone. “That’s what Isabelle helped her with.”
Aside from teaching preschool, Burdeen works part-time at the Vernon Area Public Library District, and has taught after-school and summer school cooking classes in the past.
“Kids think she’s a riot,” said Gattone. “She’s very nurturing and she brings her love for reading into the classroom. She really makes an impact on kids.”
“I’ve been called ‘the warm and fuzzy’ teacher,” Burdeen added in agreement. “I’m silly and I like teaching through fun.”
“Please Don’t Make Me Eat a Finger Sandwich” costs $16.95, and is available to purchase through Burdeen’s Web site, www.sillyeats.com.