Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cooking with Kids

One of the main activities around this house is cooking.  It is exhausting, time consuming, messy, and delicious.  It takes all of us to get something cooked.  I try to involve the children (yes even the little one), when we are making meals, or snacks.
 layered popsicles for our housewarming few years ago



One of the main reasons I started this blog was because of all the cooking and cooking photos that I don't have room to post on our private blog.  Between the garden and what we cook, it has become more than a passion or hobby and now a way of life for us.  I would love to become someone that says "if we don't grow it, we don't eat it", but that's not very likely.  Instead, we do follow the practice that "if it's not in season, we don't eat it".  I also don't see the point in eating organic if it is from another continent.  I have deep passions toward food and food culture as it is lifelong and it impacts the environment and our health greatly.

 We're trying to grow some onions this time around
 She loves to mix the ingredients for burgers.  This time, we used a 50/50 mix of grass fed beef and pork with quinoa instead of breadcrumbs.  Also, added some squash when caramelizing the onions which all went into the pattie.

The more I read and the more I cook, I realize that our traditional way, and the ways my mom and grandmother did things truly are beneficial to health and nutrition.  Somethings do take a long time to prepare, and taking that time is worth it.  The convenience foods that we have adopted are easy, quick and delicious, but they have lasting impacts on our long-term health; and all the trash it produces  impacts the environment.  I suppose I could go on and on about this and I probably would upset many, but I write this as someone who is trying to change the way this household is run, and to make a lasting impact on my family and my children and hope that the ripple effect will take place.
 Making the nectar for the Humming bird feeder

Staying at home has it's perks to write blogs, take photos of your children doing things, and to cook long meals, but it's also exhausting and 24/7.  My only hope is that I can inspire a few to take on the challenge of cooking with your children, and to try and do it from scratch at least once a week.  Once you have established a comfortable routine for you and your children, you will realize you can do it more often. Our bodies can tolerate some of these toxic chemicals and processed foods, but the little bodies are so pure and still developing that we should try and give them wholesome foods.

One of the key principles is: if you have to open it, it's probably not good.  Meaning, if it's in a bag or box, there are probably a few too many preservatives and additives that we should not be eating.  I understand this is not possible all the time especially how busy we all our.  I absolutely hate cereal, but my husband grew up eating it, and so it's around the house.  Now, he no longer eats it as much but somehow it has become easy for the kids.  In the last few months we are trying to do away with cereal, and other snack foods at least while at home.  One of the strictest rules I have is that "bars" are not eaten at home.  They are for when we are hiking. I've been wanting to make my own crackers at home, and after an attempt at making graham crackers, I realized how easy it was just to buy a box.   But, now being gluten free, I hope to make the attempt once again.  As to why I'm opposed to cereal, I don't agree with the first meal of the day after such a long fast to be one that is high in sugars (added and carbohydrates) and with cold milk.

Now, how we cook around here.  It is a lot of prep work and planning ahead.  However, there are many impromptu sessions in which I have to quickly asses what is needed and keep saying "wait, wait." So, what you need is a workspace with adequate room and at a height in which they can work.  Ideally having a small table where they can sit and work is best, but you have to have room for that.  I'm still working on our Practical Life section of the kitchen, but in the meantime we've adapted to using the existing kitchen counters, island, and two step foot stool.  This also enables her to be engaged in what is going on and cut, clean, mix and watch right next to me. Often, we use the same space.
The children's size tools that my daughter uses when helping cook.  The two knives on the far left are both wavy.  The one on the far right is slightly serrated to help cut through. 

To start with you have to have all the things they will need.  When baking and having them crack the eggs, you need a bowl (or carton) with only the number of eggs you will be using, another bowl for the shells, another bowl or cup into which the eggs are cracked.  The eggs are cracked into this bowl one at a time, checked for shells and then added into whatever you are making.  If you need multiple eggs to be mixed, then you will do the above steps and then place all the eggs in one final bowl which they then mix the eggs in (see how this requires lots of patience and washing).  It's best to have rules that must be enforced consistently, such as no licking of the fingers when cooking, and that hands must be washed before and after, and in between when necessary.  The stool comes in handy so that they can also reach to wash their hands, or go to the bathroom and wash them instead.
helping her sister wash hands

Here are a few photos of our popsicle making from yesterday.  There were a few messes, and a mistake on my part in starting with a large pouring pitcher, but then I quickly switched to a smaller one.  The biggest mess was made by me when I tipped one of the popsicles over and it spilled all over the freezer and down the door.
 Setting up for the popsicles to be poured after I mixed up the fruit and yogurt.
 First attempt pouring with the larger container.
 Second and more successful attempt using a child size pitcher which she filled up with the larger one.
 Placing the lids on,
and then I make a mess putting them into the freezer.


We have made some delicious meals in this small kitchen, and we have made some complicated and challenging ones as well.  The boeuf bourguignon she helped make at age 2 will be my all time favorites.  I couldn't believe the dedication, patience, and perseverance she had at such a young age in wanting to make this dish.  It took so long that we didn't eat it the night it was prepared but the following day.  She cleaned each mushroom with a paper towel and then cut them all.  She then took each piece of meat that I had cut up, and dusted each one, one at a time in the flour mix that was in the bowl.  I think she even cut up some of the vegetables.

 wiping down the mushrooms
 rolling each piece of meat in the flour mix

 The final and very delicious product over creamy polenta.


Anyway, here are some other creations from our kitchen which I hope will inspire you to cook with your children.  Even if they dont' eat it, they will have made it, and they will at least want to try it.  But, the more they help you the more they will eat the things they make.  If it's chicken nuggets they eat, then make it from scratch!

All you need is chicken,

 buttermilk,

seasonings, breadcrumbs,

 and bake it.
No, I don't have a recipe, but I'm sure you can find one! I don't make them.


But we did make chicken fried stake back when I was pregnant.. mmm.. yum!



 watermelon jello which she helped by scoping the watermelon out (see above).
Sri Lankan hoppers which take all day to make.


Shared on: More the Merrier Mondays, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Tuesdays with a Twist,  wildcrafting wednesday, Wildlife Wednesday, simple lives thursdays, HomeAcre Hop,  small footprint family, Friday Nature Table, fresh eggs daily, Transformation Thursday, Thrifty Home,  Fresh Bites Friday, Wednesday Fresh Food,  Sunday Parenting Party, hip homeschool moms,  No Time for Flash Cards, Living Green Tuesday, Montessori Monday, Farm Girl Blog Fest,  Food Renegade, Eat Make Grow, Saturday Show and Tell, Kids in the Kitchen, Learning for Life, Mums Make Lists, It's Playtime, Frugal Family,

3 comments:

  1. This looks amazing!!!! It's wonderful to see those little hands at work:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. We love to cook here!

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  2. What a helpful post!!! Cooking with kids AND enjoying it is a inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing your post with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I am featuring it tomorrow! Please stop by and link up again! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/search/label/Eco-Kids%20Tuesday

    ReplyDelete

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