Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cook Up Some Fun with Your Kids!

Emily Patterson has some wonderful insights about cooking with kids that she wanted to share with us. I thought it appropriate since the season of baking is upon us. 

Cooking with your kids should be fun, but let's be honest, sometimes it can get kind of stressful - flour is flying, somebody is screaming and 30 minutes just got added to your dinner prep.  I read a helpful book that gracefully pointed out that our kids are not trying to be overwhelming. They are kids and they are curious and it could be a wonderful learning opportunity if we could relax about stepping in flour and about it not turning out perfect. She also, thankfully, pointed out that there are times to have them help and there are times when you say, "today isn't a good day, sweetie."  I have to remember all of this in the moment and I hope you will too. I think the Emily's tips could prove helpful to us as we are cooking up some fun in the kitchen with our kids this holiday season!

Cooking Up Fun with Your Kids!
Submitted on behalf of Primrose Preschools by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

The kitchen is a true source of wonder for young children. Unfortunately, it’s also a source of great danger. There are ways to let your child safely help you in the kitchen. It’s a fantastic way to bond with your little ones while imparting lessons about math and science while creating memories that will be cherished the rest of their lives.

1. Let your child help to his or her full extent. Simply stirring the pancake mix is fine for a five-year old, but older children can easily handle flipping the pancakes as they cook. A three-year may require more assistance when cutting cookies, but you can allow a seven-year old to be more creative with the process. Consider your own child’s physical abilities and willingness to follow directions when deciding how much responsibility they can handle in the kitchen.

2. Rules are necessary, especially in the kitchen. Let your child know what is off-limits for her own safety. Teach children of all ages to always wash their hands before handling the food and remind them throughout the experience not to touch their hair or face when cooking. Talk about cleaning up the kitchen as you go. Encourage your child to help with this necessary aspect of cooking any meal.

3. Safety is vital when little ones are helping in the kitchen. Turn all handles on pots so they are turned in towards the back wall. Pay attention to the burners and temperature settings to ensure they aren’t accidentally adjusted. Take care when pouring hot liquids, opening the stove or moving pans around. Talk to your child about the importance of hot pads and trivets for protecting yourself and the kitchen counter.

4. Build on the skills as your child grows. As your child learns to read numbers, let her measure out water. As he discovers fractions, let him handle measuring out other ingredients. Allow your child to read the recipe to you and teach them about math in the process. Let your older children help with cutting soft items and allow them to work their way up to cutting harder foods. If an electric mixer will be used, let your older child try his hand at running the mixer to achieve the proper consistency.

5. Above all, keep the process fun. The point of this experiment is to enjoy the time with your child and impart some cooking skills in the process. Offer guidance throughout the process, but let your son handle the tasks he is capable of. Remember that it won’t be perfect and it probably won’t be to your standards, but if they are trying hard they should still be complimented and encouraged.

Once the meal is finished, thank your child for her help. Let him know that he made a big difference in getting this important task done. Allow your little one to have the first taste of the finished product. Invite them to help you again so you can instill a love of cooking at an early age.

And I'll leave you with a fun kids' recipe to try with your little ones:

Blueberry Pancake Triangles 
Pampered Chef

1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 C. all-purpose baking mix
1/2 C. milk
1 egg
1/2 C. blueberries
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup

With adult help, set oven to 425 degrees. Put butter in small pan and spread using a paper towel.
Put baking mix in mixing bowl. Add milk and the egg. Whisk just until the large lumps disappear. Pour the batter into the pan and then sprinkle the blueberries over the batter.
With adult help, bake the pancake for 13-15 minutes or until the top is light golden brown. Carefully remove pan from the oven.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the pancake and cut into 6 squares. Cut each square in half from corner to corner to make 12 triangles. Serve with syrup to dip. Enjoy!
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