Writing Activity: write a recipe and send it to Stone Soup

Activities, Food, Homeschooling  /   /  By William Rubel
Stone Soup Magazine
May 2019

Qual Kabob ingredients. The recipe is by a nine-year-old.

Quail Kabob ingredients. The recipe is by a nine-year-old.

This is a set of instructions for making a quail kabob written by a nine=year-old.

Instructions for the Quail Kabob.










We all eat, and many of us like to cook. If you are 13 or under and like to cook, we’d like you to submit recipes to Stone Soup. We will publish the best of them in Stone Soup Online and, over time, when we have a enough really really good ones, we will publish a cookbook. The manuscript for Quail Kebobs at the top of this page was written by my daughter when she was nine.

Here is the format we would like your recipe submission to be in:

  1. Recipe title.
  2. The Headnote. Maximum 250 words. Many cookbooks use a recipe format that includes what they call a “headnote.” The headnote is a little story. You can think of it as a short story. What you say there is really up to you, the recipe author. You can talk about how the dish is your favorite. You can tell about the first time you tasted it. Or smelled it. Or made it. Or, you can give some advice about the recipe. For example, if there is a tricky part, you can talk about it here. Whatever you say, you should think of the headnote as a little jewel.
  3. The list of ingredients. This is where you say what goes into a recipe, and usually, how much of it that is needed. But, there is leeway here. For example, if you are writing a recipe for fried chicken, you can say, butter or oil for frying. If making crepes you could say, add milk to make a thin batter. On the other hand, you can also give exact measurements for everything.
  4. Instructions. The instructions are step-by-step procedures that need to be followed to make the recipe work. One way to think about it as you write them is to imagine that you are talking to a friend. You are standing next to a friend in a kitchen, explaining to the friend what to do. If, in the list of ingredients, your recipe called for two eggs, then in the instructions you might say, “Break two eggs into a bowl and mix.” Depending on what you are making, you might say, “Break two eggs into a bow and mix until light and fluffy.” In other words, tell people what they need to do. Flour and milk mixed together can be lumpy. If the batter needs to be smooth, say, “Mix until there are no more lumps.”

Before writing your recipe, look in cookbooks at your home or at the library to get an idea of how cookbook authors do it. Of course, also, look online. Great recipes are a literary form all their own. Because you are writing about things that are hard to describe — for example, taste and smell — it can be a real challenge for you, the writer, to come up with original prose. “This waffle tastes wonderful!” “This steak tastes wonderful!” “This bean-and-cheese taco tastes wonderful!” OK. Wonderful! But, how does that bean-and-cheese taco taste? What makes it so wonderful that I should bother making your recipe? Why your waffle, and not someone else’s?

We will test recipes. So, your recipe needs to work. We are looking for originality, evocative writing, and for instructions with absolute clarity.

Happy cooking, and good luck!

About the Author

In 1973, I was twenty years old, teaching children's art classes at my college, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and came up with the idea that the best way to encourage children to write was to introduce them to the best writing by their peers. Stone Soup grew out of that idea, and I have continued to publish Stone Soup for all these years.
I am also a culinary historian. I write about traditional foodways. My book, "The Magic of Fire," is about hearth cooking. My book, "Bread, a global history," speaks for itself. I am currently writing a bread history for a University Press. I publish articles on gardening and traditional foodways at Mother Earth News. I also publish on wild mushrooms and other food-related subjects.

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