Counter Intelligence: Books to cook by

By By April Hamilton
Books such as these can get your kids reading — and cooking — this summer.
Crispy Zucchini Sticks — there’s no rule that says you have to tell your kids they’re good for them.

Reading is so delicious!

You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask your librarian.

Better yet, pack up the kids and head to your favorite Kanawha County Public Library branch and discover a bountiful collection of kids books that will make your mouth water.

It is my great delight to announce that the featured summer reading theme is “Farm to Table,” which means there will be a cornucopia of books on display featuring kids cooking and gardening, ready to be devoured. You won’t have to forage for these topics, the librarians have already done the digging.

There are some really exciting titles on the shelves these days.

Thumb through “Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child” and you’re sure to take it home and get inspired by the life and legend of the original TV cooking personality.

“Applesauce Season” will make you hunger for the real deal, the ritual of old-timey applesauce making.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with one of Mollie Katzen’s books: “Salad People” for early kitchen helpers, “Pretend Soup” for preschoolers and “Honest Pretzels” for school-age kids will have you playing in the kitchen nonstop, whipping up all kinds of tasty creations.

You also will find kid-friendly cookbooks that will take you on a culinary world tour. Sample so many exotic cuisines without boarding an airplane!

I recall packing my tote bag full of cookbooks upon visiting the library the minute school let out for summer break. Occasionally I would purchase one I felt I couldn’t live without.

Turn back the clock to fourth grade — waaaaay before — and that one was “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls.” Did I get it at the book fair when school resumed? Hard to say. It is still on my shelf, showing its age and heavy use, complete with handwritten notes inside: “messy” (Popcorn Ring Centerpiece); “looooove” (Cheesy Pretzels).

The library is the place to be this summer! I hope to see you there — hand in hand with the Farm to Table theme, this week I will be presenting “A Rainbow of Salads,” free hands-on classes for kids at each library branch. Check the online listings for the schedule at

And here’s a favorite summer recipe to kick things off!

Crispy Zucchini Sticks

Garden-fresh “oven fries” are a delicious side with any summer meal. Makes 4 servings.

2 medium zucchinis

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat the oven to 425°.

Trim the ends off the zucchini.

Cut the zucchini in half crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into quarters.

Place zucchini sticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix together breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and thyme leaves.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the zucchini sticks.

Bake until tender and topping is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly before eating. Enjoy!

April Hamilton has always said, “Cooking is fun!” She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April’s husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. Hungry for more? Visit

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