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What should the youth cook?


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You will all have heard today's annoucement that lessons in cooking are to become compulsory in schools. What you may have misssed is that we the people are invited to send Mr Balls an email as to what we think the youth should be taught to cook. Here is the relevent message from the press release:

"The public are being asked to suggest which classic British and international main courses and puddings young people should be taught by emailing getcooking.consultation@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk"

I'm sure you've all got views - but don't all vote for snail porridge because that would be silly. Though I'm sure Heston's on the phone now trying to get the classes moved into the science curriculum.

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Very timely, i'm cooking at our local school next week as part of Healthy Eating Week.(Ages 5-10) I want to get them hands on with food, any ideas what to do with them?

We cook once a month with our local school and have had great success with felafel and dips, apple turnovers and sausage rolls! Its only a small school but we cook a small portion for everyone at school- about 80 and cook with 6 children each time in the staff room!

Other things we have done is have the childrens bring in spare produce from the garden, and we also are fortunate enough to be able to use loads of eggs from the chickens the kids keep at school too!!

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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I think it would be great if every child in the country could cook a decent simple vegetable soup. It's dead cheap, very good for you and the skills you learn making it can be applied to a load of other dishes.

But I'm sure others will have much better ideas.

That was the first dish I learned to cook in Home Economics!!! :biggrin::biggrin:

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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I have about 25 at a time to cook with for about 1 hour.In previous years we have done breadmaking and fruit.I think i will do bread again with the reception class as they haven't done it , but the rest of them..hmmm

No pressure, i have to see the Head Master tomorrow :shock:

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Very timely, i'm cooking at our local school next week as part of Healthy Eating Week.(Ages 5-10) I want to get them hands on with food, any ideas what to do with them?

I know it sound counterintuitive but....pizza.

It's food they recognise, it's fun to make and it gives you an opportunity to talk about how it's a healthy, well balanced meal when home made and vile colon clogging crap when miked in a bag from the supermarket.

Whenever I've done school stuff, there's always been the assumption that healthy food is somehow punishing and different from what they really want to eat. I reckon there's a lot of mileage in teaching a better understanding of what they actually enjoy.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I think it will be a real challenge for the schools.

Lo these many years ago, cooking WAS compulsory in the grammar school I attended. It was part of Domestic Science and the problem then was that what we were cooking in school had no relationship to what we were likely to be eating at home! I recall making an elaborate Fruit Flan when bread and dripping would likely be my tea that night.

In those days we were a pretty homogenous bunch of WASPS - imagine the challenge now when the schools are a virtual United Nations of kids.

I hope that the British school authorities will consider inviting cooks (not high-class chefs) but home cooks from the cultural mosaic to demonstrate simple and nutritious dishes from the various cuisines. It's hard to imagine that any single teacher could cover off all the bases.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I'd rather they focussed on ingredients and techniques rather than particular recipes. And that there is a lot less cake baking than when I was at school. I learned how to make every type of sponge, but not chop an onion...

They should definitely cover a few simple pasta dishes though.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I agree- even a simple Carbonara sauce prepared in front of them would prove that it doesn't just come out of a jar or a ready meal pack from Tesco.

But as they live near the sea- what about some simple fish and seafood dishes? Fish pie, your squid dish from Margot's menu or linguine with crab and parsley?

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My kids used to make their own lunches on Fridays at their Steiner school.

Veggie soup, with veggies the school grew (with the kids' help) and whole wheat bread.You've got some good lessons there in organic growing, some knife skills in the veggies, learning how to handle a pot of boiling liquid, proofing yeast and kneading, baking.

When I cook with the kids sometimes we pick one theme food and do interpretations from different areas..every country has some version of cheese sandwich, and has been fun to watch them all of a sudden play with ingredients they were familiar with. Here's what I mean..my kid would not TOUCH bolognese sauce, preferring meat balls, until we made them side by side.

One hit has also been flambe-ing leftovers on the outside grill so they could learn to use a fire extinguisher.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I went to a Jewish school so all the cooking was dairy, I learnt to make Blancmange and scones but never a proper meal. I can still remember people rushing down the corridors to find the rabbi to see if this tin or that tin was acceptable. It was my mother that taught me cooking.

But I agree with others, the real basics, a great vegetable soup, a minestrone or easy pasta dishes.

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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fo...lay-772342.html

Trust mark Hix to come up with some good ideas - Basildog what about doing the fishfingers (or something similar) with homemade oven chips (frying probably not a geat idea!) homemade ketchup(tomato relish) and mushy peas? That way you show kids how easy that sort of thing is and how there is no need/excuse to follow mum to iceland?

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I really liked the approach my kids' elementary school took. There were restrictions - no raw meat to be handled, as the kids were still quite young to expect scrupulous hygiene - but they focused very tightly on putting together a basic meal.

One of my son's friends has been cooking for himself and his father since he was 12, pretty much on what he learned in those classes.

In class, they learned to make a couple of basic starch dishes (rice, pasta), vegetables (salad, stir-fry), protein (omelet, and ham something), soup (miso soup here, of course!), and a dessert of their own conception.

Each group was responsible for buying and bringing their ingredients, working to a budget.

The kids photographed each dish, and the photos were proudly displayed in the classroom, and at the end of term, families invited to look at each group's completed meal menus in all their glory. Families were also invited to observe the final class, and I noticed that the boys were just as involved as the girls - maybe because they were making and eating their own lunch for the day, not "extra" food.

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some knife skills in the veggies

Actually, Pax, I don’t think it’s the knife skills they have difficulty with.

What do I wish I’d been taught ? Nothing about theory, techniques, nutrition, basic building blocks of cooking. Instead:

o A basic repertoire of 4 meals I could cook from limited, cheap and readily available ingredients on a weekday night.

o One meal I could cook to impress my friends (something with a high ratio of presentational sophistication to actual ease of cooking. Think starting with any of those endless bollox scallops dishes that every Masterchef contestant serves up every week).

o And – for history and culture – how to cook a Sunday lunch.

If this enthuses you, you’ll self-teach the rest anyway in later life; if it doesn’t, at least you won’t starve. And final advice to Ed Balls would be for once don’t seek to attach any targets or qualifications to this. Just teach it as a life skill and for the pure enjoyment of it. Who knows, having one lesson in which they’re not being calibrated by the state might encourage children to enjoy it.

What I would highly not recommend was the way cooking was taught to me. Viz: start the lesson by making a group of 7 year-olds spend an hour pointlessly copying out the recipe before proceeding to cook rock cakes with the density of osmium.

Gareth

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You all obviously went to better schools than me*. Here's why we'd never have been allowed to make vegetable soup:

1- It requires sharp knives, allowing pupils to hurt themselves or each other.

2- It requires boiling liquid, allowing pupils to hurt themselves or each other.

3- Even when you get it right, it still looks hilariously like sick.

Tim has the right idea with pizza - it's quite soft when thrown, and the application of heat is done in a sealed area (preferrably when they're back in their own homes). Otherwise, I'd perhaps teach them how to peel an orange, or how to do a jacket potato in the microwave.

Think I'm exaggerating? My sister is a science teacher in a no-worse-than-average estate school up north. She has taken to teaching them raw vegetable recognition ("What's this thing, miss?" "It's a carrot." Seriously), along with a few points of basic hygene and some cooking methods using the bunsen burners. Safety goggles are necessary throughout.

I'm not saying that it's already a lost cause, but anything from on high that says: "children shall be taught to cook Spanish omlette with rocket salad and pesto" is unlikely to match everyone's requirements. Better, I'd say, to employ the right people and allow them to judge what's required. (But then, the right people would cost more money than a Whitehall press release.)

* We did have compulsory Home Economics lessons at my school. We learned to combine pre-cooked mince and Smash to make a cold shepherd's pie. The ones who could manage that were fast-tracked into making evil cakes involving tinned pineapple, while the rest of us sewed huge hamburgers out of felt using very dull needles. Oh, and we all laughed like open drains when Mrs Arandale investigated the insides a gas oven with a match and blew her eyebrows off.

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I think it it may have to be a gradual thing. It needs to start in infant school.

Teach them that cooking can lead to good things. My mother taught me with fairy cakes, although nowdays I'm sure you can't let them like the bowl. :rolleyes: . But, fairy cakes taught me that great things came from that hot thing in the kitchen. I was about 4.

Then, progress to veggies, coleslaw is a good thing that they can have total responsibility over without cooking (I'm talking toddlers here). Peeling is a thing I get my godson involved with, he is 4 and loves hacking at spuds and parsnips, yes, with a safety peeler.

Understanding ingredients is vital, and it's astonishing that some children don't under stand that beef=cow, pig=pork, milk comes from cows etc...

Where I think the "powers that be" may have a problem, is that many of todays parents just don't have a clue as they have grown up in the super market generation, and thus don't understand why their children need to know.

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Just back from giving 2 classes on Salads at Padstow School.Great fun, very interested kids.I told them that the World Biggest Salad was nearly 70000 kilos in weight and was made in a container 18m x 5m. First hand goes up, "How big was the spoon?"

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I dunno, naebody, our local school boasts that one memorable school trip attracted 9 patrol cars, but the kids who were in "residential facilities" at 14 were still able to learn at 10 and 11 how to cook themselves some kind of meal.

By 11 and 12, admittedly a certain percentage of the class didn't really need to be issued with knives because they came ready equipped, but heck, the young lions get as hungry as the young lambs, and they need to learn to cook just the same.

...getting a bit off topic, but certainly my vote goes for "dinner" rather than snacks or fancy food, because oddly enough, the kids seem to get more satisfaction out of it, maybe because making dinner is a grown-up thing to do.

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I'm surprised no one here has mentioned Pesto and by that I mean homemade pesto - Basil, garlic pinenuts, cheese, olive oil.

The only cooking involves pasta.

Equipment a pestle and mortar or a food processor

All ingredients are available in supermarkets without too much expense

I guess logically speaking you could go one further and get the kids to grow basil from seed too?

An easy tasty recipe and surely any kid who'd only tasted pesto from a jar would be an instant convert.

thoughts?

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I see a need for a difference in approach between the under tens (getting children sampling, and creating a general interest and curiousity about food) to the over tens (building on all of the aforementioned points, but also getting creating dishes they can cook and prep themselves).

I don't have any direct involvement in cooking in education (though I do indirectly, through our work with catering colleges etc) but I do get my four year old absolutely immersed in what goes on in our kitchen.

It goes without saying that anything sweet is a winner (cakes, biscuits etc) but for boys at least I find anything gory is a hit. excavating the flesh from a cooked crab (and pulling the tendons that make their claws work), gutting fish, prepping a squid (and doing Zoidberg impressions with it's tenatacles) all go down a treat. Often he isn't overly keen on the end result but I think it's good he's in the process.

Also, bread/pizza dough is fantastic. It's just one step up from play-doh really. It smells good, it feels good and you get to whack it and stretch it about. In fact a favourite game is to sculpt a tiny dough man, rip the main dough open (it pleasingly resembles a jaggedy monster mouth) and then pop the little guy inside before squishing the mouth shut and pounding the whole thing to oblivion.

Kids tend to like the end results of anything doughy too which is good. Fresh bread is always well received (especially if dried fruit is added), garlic bread never fails, and of course every kid likes arranging toppings on pizzas.

I actually find if you have your child on a chair on even the sideboard (breaking every health and safety rule in the book) they get huge pleasure from getting involved in the simplest elements of cooking - adding dribbles of this or spoonfuls of that, and sprinkling in seasonings. Of course the results can be a little haphazard so it pays to steer clear of recipies which depend on ultra-accurate measuring.

Maybe just a boy thing again but cooking which involves "tools", utensils or equipment is also always a hit. Scales, rolling pins, pizza cutters, can-openers etc etc. It's when my son is grinning and giggling with joy at the countless strings of potato being extruded from the ricer than I realise I am still pretty much a four year old in the kitchen...

Cheers

Thom

Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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I actually find if you have your child on a chair on even the sideboard (breaking every health and safety rule in the book) they get huge pleasure from getting involved in the simplest elements of cooking - adding dribbles of this or spoonfuls of that, and sprinkling in seasonings. Of course the results can be a little haphazard so it pays to steer clear of recipies which depend on ultra-accurate measuring.

Agreed - our toddler loves sitting on the worktop and helping out - sometimes it's the only way to engage her interest and get on with what needs doing at the same time.

Have some great photos of her sticking garlic slivers and rosemary in a venison haunch and (this Christmas) brandishing a goose leg she was helping me confit whilst pointing to the Hugh F-W cookbook.

[/proud parent]

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