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One of my favorite finds at the2008 Gourmet Housewares show was a new line of products from Playful Life Inc. Thetiming couldn’t be better since there is a growing interest in getting kidsinvolved with all things culinary.

"The Playful Chef Cookbook" is thecenterpiece of a collection that includes a "Playful Chef Cooking Kit" backpack, "Playful Party Planner" and a "Playful Play Date" guide. You can order any of these at Amazon and several other online retailers.

The cookbook has 33real and useful recipes organized into standard categories that also include some uniqueones such as "International Holidays", "Science of Cooking" and "Pet Treats".The preparation steps and ingredients tie in closely with the backpack kits withfeatures like color coded amounts to match the measuring tools. The authors also suggest that the backpack is great for gathering ingredients at the store when kids go shopping with a list from the book. What I like most is the educational material in every recipe thatcovers kitchen safety, science, shopping, planning and nutrition. Spread throughout are also whole pages dedicated to themes such as teamwork, technicalskills and even one about how to be a foodie.

When you're looking for a unique gift, or a great wayto pull your kids away from the TV on a rainy day, give the Playful Lifeproducts a try.

By Jim Sheetz and Jim Sheetz