First Post in ‘World in Their Plate: Cooking Ethnic Cuisines with Kids’
Kids approach cooking with the same enthusiasm as a science project. The only additional perk between cooking and scientific experiments is that they get to eat their outcome!
But before we get to conjuring up sweet and savory treats from all over the world, lets consider a few simple aspects while cooking new cuisines with kids, that will have the young and the young-at-heart jumping with joy at the prospect of cooking.
After all, our upcoming list of recipes aren’t your typical kiddie-fare…in case, you missed it here’s the menu for the next few weeks.
Another good read: my post from two years back titled ‘ 7 Highly Effective Ways to Get Kids to Try Ethnic Foods.’
1. Lay Down the Rules:
Make sure to go over these basic age-appropriate ‘Famous Five Cooking Rules For Kids’ before bringing out the pots and knives.
2. Safety First:
Leaving kids to cook alone in a kitchen is the same as leaving them standing alone in the middle of a busy highway. And yet, we see the former scenario more often than the later one.
3. Hygiene, a Close Second:
Wash and rinse everything you can while cooking – it’s a habit best learnt early. Start with each person washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. (My boys still sing the ‘happy birthday’ song while washing their hands, an old habit which should hold them in good stead.)
4. Kids Love Food Their Size:
My favorite secret to choosing dishes when I’m cooking new cuisines with kids is: try foods that need to be rolled into balls or cut in bite size pieces. One pot rice and noodles dishes are also always a hit…
5. Plan Before Pan:
Spend a few minutes reading a recipe and planning the steps in advance with your children. This is a real-life skill, best learnt at home.
It also helps to take children to the grocery store and farmers market for the ingredients. Remember to factor in substitute and leave-out ingredients. You want your kids to know that food is a personal choice…and you respect theirs.
6. Under an Hour:
Choose dishes that cook quickly and keep it fun for you and your kids. Leave the complex slow cooking recipes for your own experimentation.
7. Math in Action:
Your kitchen is where young kids get to see their school math lessons in action, by measuring and weighing and calculating ingredients. One of my favorite ways is to give the boys a recipe and ask them to half it. Dividing fractions, anyone?
8. Room to Play:
Kids learn through play, so let them have fun while cooking, but within certain parameters that work for you. My limit – I’m fine with the carrot talking to the broccoli; but throwing food around doesn’t work for me…
9. First Aid 101:
Where there are knives and hot objects, there will be cuts and scalds. Now’s your chance to teach some basic age-appropriate first aid in a real life situation.
Most people of my generation don’t remember the concept of ‘food allergies’ but it is very relevant today. This is your chance to talk about ingredients like peanuts and dairy, and how some people can get sick with certain foods. Most kids of this generation have at least a couple of friends with allergies.
Cooking and good food habits are an important skill in today’s fast paced world…have fun creating memories while getting your kids ready for life.
See you next week with Croatian – Chocolate Balls/Truffles from cookbook ‘Beyond the Cake.’