This cannot be a proper review of the Peanuts Family Cookbook, because I have not attempted to cook any of the fifty recipes contained within. That, I reckon, should be the real test of any cookbook. And to properly test this cookbook, I should cook them with one of my children, because that seems to be the goal here: having the kids contribute a large portion of the effort. (I will beg off of trying at least many of the recipes due to lacking a working oven… which makes it sound like I’m in some sort of desperate financial straits, which is definitely not the case. The oven that is installed here is a double oven, but the electrical system really doesn’t support that. Since neither of the ovens is working properly at the moment – the temperature control is all kerphlooey – I need to get it replaced with a new single oven, but the whole in our kitchen for it is all the wrong size. So there are so many decisions to be made in upgrading this, and my wife and I stink at mutual decision making. So there is actually no end in sight to this ovenless existence. Ah, weaknesses! But I digress.)
Anyway, what I can do is review the book as a Peanuts item, and it reviews quite nicely… and interestingly. For one thing, the book is laden with recipes or at least recipe names that tie in well to the strip. Want to make Charlie Brownies? They’re here. Woodstock’s Upside-Down Cake? Carrots-are-Vegetables cake? CorMac And Cheese? Lucy’s Pretty Good Goop?
The book is filled with lots of Schulz art, mainly in strips that accompany the recipes, and in some cases it’s clear that the existence of these strips are the reason for the inclusion of the particular recipe. A strip where Sally refers to Shrimp Louie as Shrimp Plooey? Then a recipe for Sally’s Shrimp Plooey gets included!
The recipes are broken down into three categories: Breakfast; Soups, Salads & Snacks; Easy Meals; and Desserts.
But what I’m finding fascinating about this book is not the inclusion of Schulz art, but the inclusion of a lot of non-Schulz art. There are plenty of full-color non-Schulz pieces in this, and they’re credited in the back, about ten apiece by Robert Pope and Vicki Scott, some credited to Peanuts Worldwide or to Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and they work quite well. (Most of them would not be mistaken by the practiced eye for actual Schulz, but that’s true of all of the Bill Melendez animated Peanuts work as well; I don’t have a problem with that so long as the strip itself remains pure.) And much of this art was not created for this book. I can see images from the Peanuts Family Album, from the Look-and-Find books, and so forth. Schulz understandably spent most of his effort on the individual cartoon panels, doing a wonderful job with those, but that’s quite different from the sort of large presentation piece that we see here.Having a robust set of such art to draw from is one way to help keep Peanuts alive as a merchandizing item… and doing that will, I suspect, prolong interest in the strip.
(And for those who followed the change in cover design and title from Peanuts Munch Time Cookbook to the Peanuts Family Cookbook as I blogged it, I should note that they kept the Munch Time image in the book, as the last page. No sense in letting such a thing go to waste!
The book should make a good gift for the Peanuts-friendly budding cook in your house, and is available now for immediate shipping.