Get The Whole Family Cooking!

Get The Whole Family Cooking!

Thu 09 Jun 2011

Story by Hannah Ewan

One of the great things about good food is that it can bring the whole family together – not only eating it, but also making it!

As school summer holidays draw near, cooking with the kids is a fun and really satisfying activity. It’s the game you can eat. As well as giving them essential skills for life, it’s simply a wonderful way to spend some quality time together as a family. Even really young children can help out around the kitchen, cutting out and decorating cookies, tossing salads and sieving flour.

Cooking teaches children about food in an engaging and enjoyable way – introducing new foods becomes exciting when part of a meal they’ve helped to make. Why not give your kids the responsibility of choosing the veggies for tonight’s dinner?

The first thing to do though is establish some cookery ground rules. Kitchens can be dangerous, and you need to be side-by-side with your kids as they learn how to work safely. When they’re old enough, it’s important to teach them how to use different knives properly, and never let young children near boiling water or a hot oven alone. Cooking together is a great way to teach children about basic safety. These essential points are a good place to start:

• Always turn pan handles to the centre of the hob – if you leave them sticking out into the kitchen it’s easy to accidentally tip over pans of boiling water or hot oil.
• Pass knives and scissors by the handle, and always walk around the kitchen with the blade pointing away from you – but never at anyone else.
• Don’t cook in bare feet or open sandals in case you drop a sharp knife or heavy pan.
• Never leave the cooker or hob on unattended.
• Always supervise your children as they cook; don’t leave them on their own in the kitchen.
• Don’t assume because you’ve warned your child about something once, they’ll remember it – safety tips bear repeating.
• And remember, wash hands regularly, and always after handling raw chicken.

That’s the serious bit over – now onto the messy part! Being flexible in the kitchen is important because cooking with kids isn’t a tidy activity...flour gets everywhere, water gets spilled, and chocolate manages to get smeared across all surfaces. Getting involved is part of the fun!

Leave plenty of time for cooking sessions – it may take you half an hour to whip up some cupcakes, but it’s guaranteed to take a ten-year-old the whole morning! Be patient, and always keep things light-hearted and simple. The older the child, the better they’ll be able to concentrate on more complex recipes, so make sure you choose something with just a few simple stages for very young ones.

Simple classic pancake recipes are a perfect place to start!

One-cup pancakes
All American pancakes

Pancakes are so versatile - try them with these toppings:

• Honey and chopped banana
• Grated chocolate and chopped nuts – hazelnuts and almonds are particularly good
• Fresh blueberries and maple syrup
• The ultimate classic – a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar
• Don’t forget savory! What about chicken with your favorite cheese and some salad leaves?

Follow these links for more tips, safety pointers and recipes for cooking with your family:

Cooking with kids
Kid Friendly Recipes and Family Favorites
Healthy Cooking with Your Kids

About the author: Hannah is a freelance journalist from Edinburgh, who started making a mess in the kitchen when she was little and hasn't stopped since.


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