I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard intelligent, caring, perfectly competent parents state that they just can’t bring themselves to let their kids help in the kitchen due to the mess, time, possible wastage, etc.
Well I’m afraid I can’t smile sweetly anymore. (Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones?) Sorry to be blunt, but how on earth do these folks expect their sons/daughters to fend for themselves upon leaving home without such a basic skill? You wouldn’t send them out into the world without other essential skills, like say, breathing, so why is it a badge of honour to proclaim your anal retentiveness is a barrier to allowing the kids to learn another basic life skill?
This isn’t just about preparing kids to fend for themselves. If it were, we’d just teach children 10 basic, super healthy dishes and be done with it. This is about expanding tastes, helping fussy eaters embrace food (for what a little one prepares them seem to be so much more likely to eat) and simply wallowing in the joy that is Good Food.
I do get it, I know they like to spread ingredients about. I know they tend to suggest adding more of pretty much everything, especially when they’re 3, because let’s face it, more is more when barely out of nappies. I know they often suggest odd combinations with such a look of expectation and wonder that it’s hard to say no to cocoa scrambled eggs. There is a way around all this though.
For me it’s about age appropriate helping. When the boys were under two they mostly put the vegetables on the chopping board, we talked about colours, textures and they always had their own spoon, a little bowl and two tablespoons of flour with some form of spice to mix up. They didn’t actually contribute very much to the process of cooking dinner, but they thought they did, and that’s what matters.
They moved on to cracking eggs (and yes, we did sometimes find a bit of shell in our food but hey ho, I’ve eaten worse), stirring, peeling, cutting, layering, marinading – pretty much anything that doesn’t involve heat at the moment. They are interested in food, they like choosing fruit and vegetables at the shops, they especially enjoy making salad dressing potions and washing up, (at the moment), is similarly exciting.
Here are my tips for happy kids and parents in the kitchen and a gratuitous shot of my sons in their new Organix #NoJunk aprons.
- Let them know there are parameters of what’s acceptable. You know your limits. For me the kitchen is a place to be treated with respect – we don’t throw food, we treat each other kindly and we don’t eat anything unless it’s deemed okay by Mummy. I don’t enjoy trips to out of hours surgeries with tummies full of raw chicken.
- Choose recipes where they can get involved. Sounds obvious but anything where the main bulk of the time is spent deep frying or slicing with a mandolin is only going to end in bored tears.
- Allow some autonomy. Imagine never being able to deviate from a recipe? Life would be boring. It’s the same for kids. If they suggest adding a little onion to a dish why not try it? You might like it. (Ignore this advice for cocoa scrambled eggs, take it from me – they’re not great.)
- If your budget allows it, indulge in a small apron, possibly even a hat. Children do seem to love a dress up opportunity.
- Christmas and birthdays are perfect for some child size utensils. We have a small sieve, a tiny wooden spoon and a small whisk. In the meantime a tablespoon and a cereal bowl are quite adequate.
- Think of a meal like a good story; it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It starts with discussing, planning and shopping, it builds to the actual food preparation and the cooking and it ends with laying the table, taking drinks orders (the unadulterated happiness of a child with a piece of paper, playing waiter is beautiful) and clearing plates.
- Always, but always have a tea towel and/or wipes on standby for wiping egg smeared hands, floury tables and spillages. Yes there will be mess, but come on, let’s keep some perspective.
Kids do love making fairy cakes and biscuits, granted, but watching their joy at feeding the whole family an evening meal that’s lingered over, discussed and praised is a joy to behold. These little fritters are a great recipe that can be meddled with, whatever your age and are perfect as a snack or starter. Don’t like or have courgettes? Use onion, squash, parsnip, aubergine of whatever takes your fancy instead. Similarly these can be spiced up with chilli, cumin, chives, coriander or whatever else you have in your cupboard.
NB: Photography by Minal Photography.
One year ago: Lemon animal biscuits and Oatmeal & fudge cookies and 5 ways with the humble Victoria sponge
Two years ago: Octonauts cupcakes and Walnut, fudge and fleur de sel biscuits
Three years ago: Mutter paneer and Hot cross biscotti
Makes 7 – 8
- 85g self-raising flour (wholemeal/white)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 60mls milk
- A pinch of black pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 small carrot, peeled and grated (approx. 45g)
- ½ medium courgette, grated (approx. 70g)
- 55g grated cheddar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
Stir the flour, baking powder, egg, milk, black pepper and garlic to a thick paste. Add the carrot, courgette and cheddar, stir well and set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan on a low heat. Transfer a heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the pan, then repeat until you have four spoonfuls gently frying, well spaced.
After 2 minutes use a slice to flip and fry each fritter on the other side for 2 more minutes. (You can squash the fritters gently to speed the process up at this point.) Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen roll, then repeat with the rest of the mixture. Serve warm as finger food with or without dips.
NB: These keep in the fridge for 3 days, well wrapped. Re-heat in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for 5 minutes before serving. If you fancy making these for breakfast weigh out the flour and baking powder in one bowl and the grated ingredients in another (refrigerated) the night before. Then you’re only 10 minutes away from these moreish little morsels.
NB: This was written in support of Organix #NoJunk challenge. Why don’t you sign up and share your #NoJunk recipes?
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This is the place where I started out and yes it would be a great start for you
personally as well. This is a great way to get the slow loser to burn fat in a more effective rate
all day long. We are extremely excited to know the merchandise we
can use, which will continue to work fast, and what has to be implemented to execute
and gaze after it.
So ice creams, cookies, deep frozen meals are certainly not
allow. When you consume them you promote lipid balance inside you, and being fat is really
dangerous. From there he clearly explains the reasons why most fail to
reach the hard six pack ripped abs.
The secret is getting the heartbeat up, rather than having much calories inside you, so that your body decides to burn off of the extra fat.
Eat reasonable portions (cease eating when you find yourself full).
That’s the reasons you see some people overeat of junk food and not get fat or folks that eat little
or no whilst still being put on weight.
Brilliant. Job done.
Thanks Holly, another great recipe – cannot wait for your book to be released x
Thanks Sue! I am a bit nervous… x
I love this blog post and I love the recipe. I totally agree; who cares if the kitchen gets a bit messy. With two boys (3 and 18 months), our house is a bomb site anyway, what’s a few extra crumbs or some beaten egg on the kitchen floor! I’m all for encouraging children into the kitchen. I can’t wait to try this recipe with my helpers! Anneliese (Rising to the Berry and also Cook, Eat & Play!) xxx
Exactly! Beaten egg on the floor is the least of my cleaning worries. ;-) Pleased you like the blog post and recipe. x
Great recipe and I love your ethos on children helping in the kitchen – it mirrors my own. It really does annoy me that people don’t let their kids help in the kitchen because of the mess it might make. My own son loves to help measure out ingredients and watch how things change when you mix and cook – particularly bread and cakes.
Elaine, I am so with you on this. Isn’t it lovely to see their little faces when they realise THEY made something delicious? Worth a little bit of extra wiping and tidying. X
What happy and lovely pics and words. Wonderful pics as always . I make something like these pancakes with gran flour instead but using the courgette and carrots…for whatever reason, always a winning combination of vegetables isn’t it? X
Such a good combo of veggies and I so need to try gram flour pancakes – is the taste much different? X
Hi Holly, yes they will taste nuttier with gram flour but it doesn’t always give as much rise. There’s a recipe on my site if you fancy checking it out x
Ooh, I will thank you. X
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