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Cooking with Kids

January 15, 2008

Plastic knife pot roast (with recipe)

Will it cut?

Tonight I bring you the tale of the plastic knife and the pot roast, in which we will attempt to answer the question: Will the little red plastic knife be able to cut up vegetables for a pot roast or will it have to call on the reinforcement knife lurking in the background?

The bright red beauty is a Zyliss salad knife - theory being that if you cut your salad with plastic/nylon instead of metal the lettuce won't oxidize and turn icky brown. I tear lettuce for salad by hand so that purpose was of little interest to me, but I have been looking for kid-safe tools and wondered if it would work to cut veggies but not fingers. 

Setting my expectations at some reasonable level, I decided that I would try something soft to start with. Handing the knife and a tomato to someoneElse, I watched, ready to admit defeat when the knife mangled the tomato.

Except it didn't. 

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January 03, 2008

Simple, flaky biscuit recipe

Biscuit

Scattered.

If I had to pick one word for my life the last while, it would have to be scattered. Just as one crazy thing is brought under control, the next careens into view. Like garlic butter in your cake pan. Or a teetering stack of biscuits.

One of my surest cures for scattered is bread. As I gather the bits of ragged dough and knead them together into a cohesive whole, I am, likewise, remade just a bit, my loose edges reintegrated and all that. It's one of my favorite meditative states.

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February 19, 2007

TV, training wheels, teaching and trashing...

I think I figured out what's up with those two food tv shows that many of us don't understand. It's all a matter of framing. This is cooking for beginners. Just maybe not the beginners you are thinking of.

What do you think of when you think "beginning cook"? For me at least, I think of children (and adults too, but always children) who are not only unskilled in the kitchen but too young to do many basic things on their own. No sharp things. Limited use of appliances: microwave instead of range, toaster oven instead of standard oven, etc. There is often a focus on assembly of ingredients rather than actual cooking.

You can see this clearly in old cookbooks. I learned to cook as a young child, and while I didn't use many children's cookbooks, I did have a few. Having not done too much shopping for such books in the last decade, I'm not sure if they have changed all that much since then. (other than having TV personalities on the covers) While there have been some notable additions since I was a kid, I bet that the books that have been in print for decades (and many of the newer ones) still use their tried-and-true approach. Duh. Tried and true sells.

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December 20, 2006

pizza face!

pizzaPrep1

Quick report from the first day of Thump Thump Giggle Giggle 06. Make your own pizza night was a hit, with a well organized assembly line (if I do say so myself) with each pizza crust on its own sheet of parchment and all the toppings lined up behind them.  Except for the rum. I have no clue where that came from...well, I know where it came from, just not why it was out with the pizza makings, nor why I didn't get a drink!

This is a great way to make individual pizzas for parties, especially for kids. The parchment gives you something by which to manipulate the floppy while raw, and then extremely hot when cooked, pizza; plus you can write the name of the person who made the pizza on the paper. These were labeled with the names that everyone is using on the network: Kat, Monstrrr, Dracomiss, BabyDuck, and Dead, I mean Dad.

The pizza making rapidly moved into an art exhibition, with most people making faces of one sort or another. Dracomiss swears hers is a pig. Dead, I mean Dad made an abstract piece and mine was a self-referential wedges of wedges sort of thing. (I made mine last and when I picked up the scissors to cut the pepperoni, there was an audible gasp from everyone else; as if there had been rules or something!)

katPizza dracomissPizza monstrrrPizza deadIMeanDadPizza babyduckPizza selfReferentialPizza

We've been munching our way through a plate of densely chocolate brownies studded with craisins and drizzled with a lattice of very dark and white chocolates while screams of dismay and four letter words drift in from the next room, where the carnage continues apace. I hear Dead, I mean Dad asking for directions back to the fray from some back part of a dungeon in which he's lost...as if they'll help. Do you suppose that he'd listen if I told him I can tell it's a trap from here? grin

Tomorrow is a big breakfast of some sort, which I just may sleep through, since it's the meal someoneElse is responsible for. Lunch is light: prawns and roasted red pepper sauce, baguettes, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, maybe some chunks of cheese and some fruit. Dinner is chicken that's marinating in this lemon, rosemary, dijon concoction; pasta with citrus ginger cream sauce that I had the other night and want to try to recreate (wish me luck); salad with warm goat cheese, pear slices, and spiced pecans; and a variation on Bananas Foster for dessert.

Last I checked, the kitchen was only mildly thrashed and the cookies a bit more; we were probably down by a couple of dozen cookies, maybe more since Dracomiss brought a few dozen which are also disappearing.

And now I must go pour myself a glass of amaretto. I think I've earned it.

July 11, 2006

awesomeGrrl bakes Pie Cookies with Aunt Marcella

Awesomegrrltraypiecookies

Contrary to what the corporate media would have you think, not all kids grow up without a clue about cooking, some even get lots of hands-on time early on. I was one of those lucky ones, as is the monstrrr in these pictures. Let's call her awesomeGrrl, because she is awesome (the kid speaks three languages already...oh, and American Sign Language...geez!) and she's learning all about being an awesome cook and baker from a very young age. She makes a mean salad, is learning how to bake and has even had "Baker Ben" visit from England to teach her about bread baking. And she's not even three yet!

(Did I mention that one of those languages is Mandarin Chinese? I suppose that's not so intimidating to some of you, but I am amazed by her language skills. One day recently, when she was not quite 2.5 years old, I asked her to count to ten in Mandarin. She hopped from foot to foot while saying words in Chinese in a sing-song voice. I sat in rapt attention, hoping to catch a single word well enough to repeat it back — and not liking my chances —  as she pranced around the room counting. After a minute, her mom burst into laughter and said, "Those aren't numbers, she's just messing with you!" Oh my, such sarcasm at two and a half, awesomeGrrl's going to be fun as she grows up. )

Piecookies1 awesomeGrrl's Aunt Marcella came to visit recently and they baked Marcella's Pie Cookies. These cookies are the cupcake of pies: tender sour cream pastry and a rich date filling shaped into tiny little puffed flowers. In the family since the turn of the last century, the recipe for these cookies was passed to Marcella when she was about nine years old, which would have been quite a few years ago, since Marcella celebrated her 80th birthday a while back by throwing herself out of a perfectly good airplane, but that's another story. As you might guess, Marcella is a bit of an awesomeGrrl herself; more than a few of women in the family point to her as who they want to be like when they are 80.

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August 29, 2005

Memories of childhood food

I feel I've been somewhat remiss in posting lately, alternating between feast and famine. So when I was finally driven from the warm comfort of my bed at the unbearably early hour of 7am today by the rain that pounded down on the roof all night I figured it was a good day to catch up a bit. You can perhaps imagine my frustration that the same deluge that kept me awake a lot of the night is turning my satellite into a highly intermittent communication device: this does NOT make blogging easier! And I am nowhere near the Gulf coast and Katrina. (if you are, stay safe)

Top of my list of undone writing is Five Childhood food memories you miss, having been tagged by either Mrs. D, Chopper Dave, or one of the four-legged furlings at Belly-Timber. Personally, I am betting it was the cat. Anyway, after the usual delay, here goes.

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June 14, 2005

Neither marsh nor mallow, discuss...

The recipe for this is here: Berry Marshmallows with chocolate

Mmdrip4

First I have to admit something--I am not the hugest fan of marshmallows. Okay, so a campfire somehow just isn't complete without some to toast, and they are great as an (occasional) ingredient...but marshmallows for their own sake? Marshmallows to be eaten like candy just didn't grab my attention.

Until I ran across an eGullet thread discussing making marshmallows. Making them? You can make them? Oh gee, why didn't anyone tell me? This might be a different story entirely.

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