Cooking With Kids
The last topic about kid friendly dinners got me thinking ... what are some of your favorite recipes for your kids to cook?
My oldest (16) has really learned her way around the kitchen, and just proclaimed herself a "real chef" after making a fabulous flourless chocolate cake out of the current Bon Apetit for her sister's birthday. :>) In addition to helping us out in the kitchen, she started making pudding and jello on her own when she was 7 or 8, and by 12 or 13 was making "Crunchy Munchy Chicken" from a recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook for kids -- a pretty simple recipe of chicken wings breaded with crushed corn flakes, seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked in the oven. She's made that chicken over and over again, and I dare say that one recipe is largely responsible for helping to instill an enjoyment of cooking in her, and gave her the confidence to try new and harder recipes in the kitchen.
Now that my other kids are on that same path (wish you could have tried the potato salad my 14 year old made at a recent family reunion!), I'm looking for other ideas to give them to cook.
So what are some of the recipes that your kids love to cook?
Challah. Kids love to knead bread.
My rambunctious youngest cousin, the baby of the family, was running wild through our house tiring everyone out. I recruited her to help me put together a ball of challah dough. She had never seen bread being made before, so I made a big show of saying how fun it was and let her add the flour as I pulled the dough together. Soon enough, she was saying "Can I knead it too?" So I "let" her knead the bread while I prepared other things for dinner. Watching an eight year old wrinkle up her face in concentration, attack the dough with all that pent up little kid energy, and get flour all over herself is hilarious.
My aunt said she'd never seen her be quiet for so long. And the challah was the most popular item at dinner, even before we revealed who had done most of the work.
Don't underestimate them because of their age. 14 and 16 are not kids, they are young adults. As long as you trust them with knives, stove, appliances etc. they can cook anything an adult can. If they have more interest, get them some cookbooks on technique.
Otherwise, ask them what they are interested in cooking and get them an adult level book of that nature.
Its not about trust, or an underestimation of their talents or abilities. Its about finding ideas for recipes that will help instill in them, and younger ones, an enjoyment and a love of food and cooking, by sharing some communal knowledge of what other kids have enjoyed learning to cook.
You keep calling them kids, but they are 14 and 16. There are many in professional kitchens at 18 or younger. Not that they are interested in going pro but they have the capacity to cook as adults, not just chicken fingers and peanut butter cookies. (Your 16 y.o. sounds very accomplished if she is cooking chocolate cakes from Bon Appetit.)
Ask them what they want to cook. Cook what they like to eat. Show them what braising is. What a bain marie is. What a fennel bulb tastes like.
I'm not suggesting that you buy a book and leave them at it. But I guess I don't get the point of your post after all.
I don't disagree with you that kids who have learned to cook at an early age can, as teenagers, start to develop the ability and palate to cook as adults. But they have to start somewhere ... and you're right, they should cook what they like to eat. Which is why they are more likely to find a love of food and cooking first in chicken fingers and peanut butter cookies.
So the point of my post was more about where they started (Crunchy Munchy Chicken) than where they ended up (Bon Apetit). Kids (and I'm not just talking about teenagers here) are surprising, which is why I thought it would be interesting to share some recipes that have instilled a love of cooking in other kids, and might help do so in mine or yours as well. :>)
Pei's post about challah was right on.
I was at the newsstand today and saw a Martha Stewart magazine called Simply Kids. I guess it's a Martha Stewart Living spinoff.
It's half the size of a regular magazine and is full of cutesy things to make with kids in the kitchen. A lot of it looks like birthday party treats, but there are some recipes for real food. It might be fun for your kids to have a subscription even if they're older. The photos are of course beautiful, and it's a fun little magazine.
Not sure if this is inappropriate to mention, but I have written several cookbooks aimed at precisely this market. The first one was a general one targeted at "teens" because I saw that as a really under-served age group in terms of cooking instruction. They are old enough to be capable of cooking real food and are often expected to do so, but sometimes they just don't have the background (especially the lingo) to understand recipes which are written for people with years of experience. It's not that they can't "fold" batter, it's just that they have no freaking idea what that actually means. So they need a bit more thorough instruction, but at the same time don't want to be bored into a coma by dry commentary. So my books are allegedly funny enough to be entertaining, cover everything from shopping and cleaning the stove to recipes for cooking a fancy dinner.
Kids' cookbooks are too often filled with goofy recipes for funny-face pizzas and tuna melt sandwiches in the shape of sailboats. While recipes like this have a place at a birthday party, let's say, I find them otherwise insipid and ridiculous. Teach a kid to cook real food, fergoshsakes.
I'm not going to advertise the books here because that WOULD be inappropriate and I would almost certainly get reprimanded by the powers that be. However, I thought it was worth mentioning that a cookbook for kids isn't what you're really looking for.
Actually, besides my own books, I'm a big fan of Bittman's How to Cook Everything. My eldest - now 24 - uses it a lot.
I agree with Nyleve about recipes geared towards kids as typically being goofy and unappealing to "grown-ups". If I'm supervising (my 4 & 8 year old), it's going to be food I want to eat also.
Last week we made sorbet together. VERY easy, but very good (Photos Below).
Krissywat's cracker recipe was perfect for my 4-year old, both delicious and easy. My kids also love my "Stomp & Bake" Chicken.
Yes, here it is...
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole milk
1 small pitcher cream (for pouring over the baked oatmeal)
compote of peaches or strawberries
(or add a bit of water to some jelly and warm on the stove)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 2-quart souffle (or other baking dish) with a non-stick coating.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in the oil and sugar; combine well. Stir in the oats, baking powder, salt, and milk; mix until combined well.
Pour mixture into prepared dish and bake for 40-55 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Serve warm with the cream and fruit.
"The Baking Book, a recipe from a Lancaster County B&B"
NOTES : So simple to make and so delicious! (tastes a little like sticky toffee pudding!)
(Note: I tried it with brown sugar once, but I didn't like it as much. It was more moist and sweet.)