Well, the school holidays are just over, back into the routine of packing lunches instead of lazy meals at home or picnics in the park or at the beach. But the school room can still spill over and back into the home kitchen. Getting children involved in the magic of cooking has many advantages. It’s a life skill that touches on many areas – maths, organisational skills, artistic elements, matters of diet, hygiene and health, the list goes on.
But aside from all that, it’s fun! A storehouse for building happy memories of times spent together creating and making something (hopefully, if the kitchen gods smile) to enjoy eating!
Making such things as Anzac biscuits for example – that magic moment of adding the bi-carb soda which is dissolved in water, into the pot of gently warmed butter – it foams and heaves up – be quick now, add it to the bowl of flour, oats and sugar.
Choosing fairly “robust” biscuit recipes is a good starting point, because the notion of gently shaping feather-light sponges etc, might be for next term holidays? The masterclasses perhaps!
Making pizzas from scratch is another good option – making, kneading and proving the dough, shaping the base, “decorating” or topping it with the child’s favourite toppings, and the best bit, eating something you have proudly made yourself.
For professional chefs this means having all the elements, all ingredients required prepared and laid out ready before you begin to cook! Good cross-training for many disciplines in life and work methinks!
The alchemy of how seeming disparate ingredients – flour, yeast, salt, water – combine to make dough. It’s truly a voyage of discovery and learning.
Naturally, some safety measures must be thought through in the planning stages, but I believe with watchful instruction, children soon learn to handle kitchen utensils safely and well.
The fun names given to some foods might be a way of enticing children to join in – I mean who could resist having a go at cooking rock cakes, or drop scones?
Preheat the oven 180C and gather the ingredients, the trays, bowls, spoons, scales, etc that you need – think of it as if you are setting out items required for one of those quick, snappy “cook-this-in fiveminutes” shows – to immediately engage the attention span.
In writing this down, I now have strong memories of the routines drilled into us in our Home Economics classes – the unit kitchens, each with our own work bench, one cupboard and a drawer had to be kept meticulously clean and organised!
These days, now that I know so much more, we would call this mis en place.
But let’s start on the biscuits, which can be made totally by hand, or speed the process up a little, by using a food processor.
I used pistachios – these can be shelled by the children. Begin with approximately 180gms to yield 100gms.
Once the biscuit dough had been made I divided it in half.
To one lot I added a tablespoon of Dutch cocoa with some coffee beans which I “smashed” in a mortar and pestle. These were for the “grown up kids” and the other half became the pistachio-chocolate version for the “littlies”.
Can you see those proud little faces in the school yard when Millie and Johnny proudly nibble away on their own homemade treats at playtime?