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Cooking with Kids

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Post your questions here -->> Q&A

Cooking with Kids

Instructor: Flory Loonin (afoodnut)

Many thanks to Varmint (DM McCord) and the L'il Varmints for the photography.

Why cook with kids?

For those of us who love cooking, hanging out in the kitchen, and eating, cooking with kids is a great way to share our enthusiasm and introduce kids to the pleasures of food. Learning to cook lets kids acquire and practice skills other than just food preparation. Reading and using recipes benefits reading skills. Measuring helps develop math skills. Learning to cook improves organization skills. Cooking can be all about science and experimentation. Cooking together is also just plain fun, and at the end of it all, we just might have something good to eat.

I am assuming that you are already at least comfortable in the kitchen, that you have basic cooking skills, that you can define culinary terms, and can demonstrate techniques. (That’s not to say you’re forbidden from learning along with the kids.)

You'll have to be the final judge of what you're comfortable with having kids do in the kitchen; as with all skills, kids develop at different rates. But here's a rough guideline of pre-cooking and cooking skills for different age groups.

The very youngest kids can play with pots, pans, plastic bowls, wooden spoons, measuring cups etc.

From ages 2-4, kids can wash/scrub fruits and vegetables, tear lettuce, peel fruits like bananas and oranges, and juice fruits using a reamer. Kids can use a table knife to cut fruits like bananas and strawberries, and can spread jam, soft butter, and peanut butter. They can use craft scissors to cut herbs. They can mash potatoes. They can stir food in a bowl, and pour liquids from a small pitcher. They can count ingredients. They can sprinkle grated cheese and put toppings on pizza. They can sift flour, use cookie cutters, and pat or roll dough. They can add pre-measured ingredients and stir. They can grease pans. They can also press the button to start the mixer or blender when the adult says "turn it on now." They can combine ingredients to make trail mix, and stir to make chocolate milk.

From ages 5-8, kids are able to measure ingredients. As soon as they can read, let them be the recipe reader. They can learn to crack eggs, beat ingredients with a whisk, and roll dough with a rolling pin. They can learn to stir, mix, fold, and beat ingredients. They can toast bread in a toaster, and do most of the work to make muffins, cookies, cupcakes. They can organize ingredients. They can peel vegetables with an Oxo-type peeler, and learn to use a box-grater for cheese. They can shape burgers and meatballs, use a melon-baller or scoop, and start to learn how to knead dough.

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From ages 8-10, kids can learn to use a knife to cut, chop, dice, mince, and slice. They can learn to separate eggs. They can stir hot foods. They can learn to use a toaster-oven, blender, mixer, can opener, microwave, stove, and oven with supervision. They can cook simple foods like scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas. They can heat soups and prepared foods. (To work at the stovetop, they need to be tall enough to see into the pot.)

From age 11 up, kids can learn more exacting techniques and be able to cook with little direct supervision. They can use appliances and equipment on their own, and be responsible for following safety rules.

Basic rules for kids (and grownups) in the kitchen

The adult should talk about "rules we follow in the kitchen" with the kids starting from day one, as part of normal kitchen conversation. As kids get older, they take on more responsibility for knowing and following the rules.

Sanitation:

Most important: Always wash your hands before you start. With a two-year- old, for example, say, "Let's wash our hands now; we always wash our hands before we cook," and help the kid stand on a chair at the sink to reach the water and wash up.

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If any of you have long hair, tie it up or use a clip. Wear short sleeves or roll up your sleeves. Wear shoes to protect feet from hot spills.

Cleanliness matters. Explain to younger kids that there are rules you follow because you don't want anybody to get sick from food you prepare.

Older kids can understand the idea that you don't want to cross contaminate foods. Cross contamination occurs when bacteria are transferred from one food to another (most often from raw poultry or meats that will be cooked to food that will be eaten with no further cooking). To avoid cross contamination:

Use at least two different cutting boards or work areas-- one for raw meat/fish/poultry and the other for fruits and vegetables that you will eat with no further cooking.

Wash utensils with hot soapy water after you use them with raw food.

Wash your hands after touching raw food.

Safety

Safety is important. Kitchens can be dangerous places. There are hot surfaces, hot foods, sharp knives, and electrical equipment.

Up until the age of about 10 kids don't necessarily understand the dangers involved and require close supervision.

As the adult, you are responsible for following these rules, but as you do, talk about the rules with the kids, telling them what you're doing and why you're doing it.

If you're working with older kids who are new to cooking, explain all the rules and the reasons for them. If you're working with older kids who are experienced in the kitchen, you should still review the rules.

Keep pot and pan handles turned towards the back of the stove.

Always use a dry potholder/mitt/towel to touch or pick up hot things. Using damp or wet cloths causes burns.

If you need to walk with a knife, hold it, point downwards, close to the side of your thigh.

Never put or leave a knife in the sink. When you're finished using a knife, wash it in hot, soapy water and put it away. If you need to leave a knife out on a counter or cutting board, make sure it is far back and the sharp edge is facing away from where anyone is working.

If a knife falls, don't try to catch it. Let it fall to the floor. (Move away from it if you can.)

Dry your hands well before plugging in any electric appliance. Always pay attention to what you're doing. When you're using an appliance like a mixer, for example, don't put your fingers or hands in the bowl while it's running.

Wipe up any spills on the floor right away; you don't want a slippery floor.

A few more suggestions

Okay, and now some more suggestions. These suggestions go beyond health and safety. They will make cooking with kids easier, more fun, more likely to be successful, and less stressful for everyone. Disregarding them won't hurt you, but following them will make your life easier.

Always start with a cleared, clean work area. As much as possible, use sturdy, unbreakable utensils. Use large bowls, with plenty of room for mixing, stirring, and tossing. Be relaxed about making a mess, but clean up as you go. Foods spill; that's okay, but wipe up the spill (watch for the possibility of cross contamination, though; don't use the unwashed dirty sponge that just wiped up the drips from raw chicken). Move used bowls, spoons, etc. to the sink.

Read the recipe before you start. Read the recipe from beginning to end before you do anything else. Read the recipe carefully. (If you are not working from a written recipe, go over everything you will do with the kids; you or they might want to use the opportunity to write out the recipe.) Talk about the recipe with the kids, explaining, defining, or reviewing any techniques or cooking terms. Clarify any abbreviations used in the recipe, for example, point out that "tsp." means teaspoon, and "Tbsp." means tablespoon.

If the recipe includes an instruction like "bake at 350º," now is a good time to turn on the oven.

Assemble all of the utensils you will need, including items like bowls, measuring spoons, and measuring cups.

Take out all of the ingredients you need.

Read the recipe again, making sure you have everything you need, and that you know what you will be doing.

Let's start cooking

So, let's finally get to cooking.

Please note: I'm not using the word cooking according to its technicalIy correct definition, "applying heat to food." Rather, I'm using it more broadly to refer to food preparation.

I know that eGullet would prefer that we use weight measures, but I'm just not there yet. Feel free to convert these recipes and use a scale if you want the kids to learn the more accurate way of weighing the ingredients. Better yet, if you're working with kids with math abilities, have them convert the recipes, and let them try them both ways.

Baking Muffins

Baking muffins using a simple recipe is a great introduction to baking skills. After presenting the recipe to you, I'll go through it step by step, pointing out how I would teach the recipe for each age group.

Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Equipment needed:

Microwaveable dish for melting butter, or small saucepan for melting butter on the stovetop

2 large mixing bowls

Measuring spoons

Measuring cups

Wooden spoons or large metal spoons for mixing

Whisk

Colander for washing blueberries if using fresh blueberries

Small bowl for blueberries

Muffin pan (12 muffin size)

Timer

Paper muffin cups, or oil and a paper towel to grease the muffin tins if you're not using paper muffin cups. (If you are using paper muffin cups, put them in the muffin pan. If you are not using the paper cups, use a paper towel with oil to grease the cups of the muffin pan; Paper cups make removing the muffins from the pan and cleanup easier; with a greased muffin pan, you get a crisper crust on the muffin.)

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400º

Melt the butter.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the milk and butter to the eggs and beat with the whisk.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir with a spoon to mix.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir to mix them together until barely combined. The batter should stay lumpy. You don't want it to be smooth. Add the blueberries and stir just enough to mix them in.

Fill the cups of the prepared muffin pan with batter about 2/3 of the way. (Use a spoon or 1/4 cup measuring cup to put the batter in the muffin pan.)

Bake at 400º for about 20 minutes.

Working with an 18 month old who is in a high chair in the kitchen:

Give the child a muffin pan and paper muffin cups, and have the child try to put the paper muffin cups in the muffin pan. The child could have a mixing bowl and wooden spoon to play with.

Make the muffins.

Working with a 2-4 year old:

Work at a height where the child can participate (such as at a kitchen table.) Read the recipe to the child, telling her/him what you'll be doing. Tell the child that the first thing you'll do is turn on the oven, and you should then go ahead and turn on the oven. Tell the child that next you will get everything ready that you need for making the muffins.

First assemble the equipment. The child can get all of the equipment (if your kitchen storage is set up so the child can reach everything); you can say, "Get two mixing bowls." "Now get the measuring spoons." (if the child doesn't know yet which are the mixing bowls or measuring spoons, you show the child the mixing bowls and measuring spoons etc.)

Assemble all of the ingredients. Have the child help as much as possible. (i.e., get the blueberries from the refrigerator.)

Say "Let's wash our hands before we start."

The child can stand on a chair at the sink and wash the blueberries in a colander, then pour them into a bowl.

If you are using paper muffin cups, have the child put the cups in the muffin pan. If you are greasing the muffin pan, the child can use the paper wrapper from the butter or an oiled paper towel to grease the muffin pan.

Measure and melt the butter. Crack the eggs into a bowl. Measure out the milk into a measuring cup or small pitcher that the child can pick up without spilling. Have the child pour the milk into the eggs, and stir with a fork or whisk. Add the melted butter, let the child stir. You will probably need to beat the mixture with a whisk to blend completely.

Measure the flour. Have the child pour the flour into another bowl. Measure the baking powder, salt, and sugar, and have the child add each to the flour. The child can stir the flour mixture with a wooden spoon.

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Have the child pour the egg/milk mixture into the flour mixture. The child can stir with a wooden spoon. (You may want to start the stirring to avoid major splashing.)

The child can add the blueberries and stir.

Fill the muffin cups 1/3 full. (The child may or may not be able to help, using a spoon (a 1/4 cup measuring cup also works well) to put the batter in the prepared muffin pan.)

Put the muffins in the oven, and set the timer. When the muffins are done, take them out to cool. When they are cool, have the child be the first to taste them.

Working with a 5-8 year old:

Let the child do as much as possible, but with you supervising closely; for example, the child should measure ingredients, but not add them until you check that amounts are right.

Work at a height where the child can participate (such as at a kitchen table.) If the child can read, have the child read the recipe. Go over the recipe with the child, reviewing all the ingredients, steps of the recipe, and terms used. Tell the child that the first thing you'll do is turn on the oven, and you should then go ahead and turn on the oven.

Tell the child that next you will get everything ready that you need for making the muffins. The older child can help get all of the equipment and ingredients.

Remind the child about hand-washing.

The child can wash the blueberries in a colander, then pour them into a bowl.

If you are using paper muffin cups, have the child put the cups in the muffin pan. If you are greasing the muffin pan, the child can use the paper wrapper from the butter or an oiled paper towel to grease the muffin pan.

Show the child how to measure the butter (using the markings on the wrapper, weighing it, or water displacement, as you wish.) You should melt the butter. Show the child how to crack an egg, and let the child crack the eggs into a bowl. Show the child how to measure the milk, and let the child measure the milk and pour it into the bowl with the eggs. The child can use a whisk to beat the eggs and milk, pour the melted butter in, and whisk until well combined.

Show the child how to measure flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. (To measure the flour, for example, spoon the flour into a one-cup measure until it's heaping, then level it off. Do this over the flour container.) The child can add the dry ingredients to a bowl, and stir. (Gently combine.)

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Have the child pour the egg/milk mixture into the flour mixture. The child can stir with a wooden spoon.

The child can add the blueberries and stir.

The child can fill the prepared muffin pan cup 1/3 full, using a spoon or 1/4-cup measure.

You should put the muffins in the oven. Show the child how to set the timer. You should remove the muffins from the oven when they're done. Let them cool, and then the child can remove them from the pan and taste.

Working with an 8-10 year old:

A child 8-10 years old will be able to do this recipe independently so long as you are there to supervise and help. If the child you're working with does not already have kitchen skills like measuring, follow the instructions in "working with a 5-8 year old" above.

The child should read the recipe. Go over the recipe with the child, reviewing all the ingredients, steps of the recipe, and terms used.

Remind the child that the first thing to do is turn on the oven. By this age, you can show the child how to turn on the oven and set the temperature.

The child can get all of the equipment and ingredients.

Remind the child about hand-washing.

The child should put the paper muffin cups in the muffin pan or grease the muffin pan.

The child can wash the blueberries in a colander, then pour them into a bowl.

After the child measures the butter, show the child how to melt butter, either stovetop or in the microwave. (In the microwave: Set the microwave for 20 seconds; if the butter isn't melted yet, microwave it for a few more seconds, until melted. Stovetop: melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.)

The child can crack the eggs, measure and pour the milk, pour in the butter, and whisk.

The child can measure the dry ingredients and mix.

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The child can add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir them to combine.

The child can add the blueberries and stir.

The child can fill the prepared muffin pan cup 1/3 full, using a spoon or 1/4 cup measure.

The child can open the oven, and you or the child (you should decide based on child's strength/coordination) can put the muffins in the oven.

The child can set the timer.

When the muffins are done, the child can open the oven door, and you can then remove the hot pan from the oven.

When the muffins are cool, remove from pan and enjoy.

Working with children over 11 years old

Children older than 11 will be able to make these muffins on their own, if they are comfortable in the kitchen.

Once the kids learn the muffin making technique, this basic recipe can be used for all kinds of muffins:

Substitute other fruit for the blueberries.

You can use chopped fresh peaches and add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients for a delicious variation.

For corn muffins, use 1 cup of cornmeal to replace 1 cup of the flour.

Make "Surprise Muffins." Fill each muffin cup 1/3 full. Put a teaspoon of jam in each muffin, then fill the muffin cup to 2/3 full.

For Lemon Poppy muffins, you'll need 3 Tbsp. poppy seeds and 1 lemon. Add the poppy seeds to the milk, and heat it in the microwave before combining the milk with the eggs and butter. Grate the zest of the lemon, and juice the lemon. Add the zest and juice to the muffin batter.

Try using brown sugar instead of white sugar.

Make chocolate chip muffins.

Baking Cookies

Everybody seems to enjoy baking and eating cookies. This is a basic recipe for chocolate chip cookies (the classic TollHouse style cookies,-- the perennial favorite.) As with the muffins, once the kids learn the technique, variations are possible. I’ll suggest a few. This raw dough freezes well. After you make the dough, you can shape it into a log, roll it in parchment and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Then you can slice off cookies (no need to thaw first) and bake fresh, home-made cookies when you want them.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(About 100 cookies)

Equipment needed:

Electric Mixer

Cookie sheet(s)

Mixing bowl

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Rubber spatula

Metal or plastic spatula

Spoons, wooden spoon

Parchment (or extra butter for cookie sheet)

Rack or brown paper bag for cooling

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

12 ounces chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 375º

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together using the mixer. Start the mixer at slow speed, then increase speed. (Creaming means mixing the softened butter and sugar together until they're light, smooth, and creamy.) Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture, and mix , at medium speed, until smooth..

Add the flour mixture a few spoonfuls at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Add the chocolate chips and stir them in by hand.

Put on cookie sheets using a teaspoon (not the measuring teaspoon). Place them about 2 inches apart.

Bake for about 12 minutes (until golden brown).

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then remove them from the cookie sheet using a metal or plastic spatula. Let them cool in a single layer on a rack or on a brown paper bag that you have cut open so it lies flat.

If you line the cookie sheet with parchment, it will be easier to remove the cookies. If you don't have parchment, rub the cookie sheet with butter. (You will need to make several batches of the cookies, so you will probably need to re-use the cookie sheets. Using the parchment also lessens the chance of having burnt cookie dough on the cookie sheet in subsequent batches.)

Using the same basic technique, make variations of the cookies:

Add 1 cup of any kind of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, peanuts etc,) with the chocolate chips.

Add 1 cup of raisins or dried cherries.

Omit the chocolate chips, and use raisins or nuts.

For oatmeal raisin cookies, reduce the flour to 1 1/2 Cups, and add 1 1/2 Cups uncooked oatmeal (not instant) and 1 cup raisins in place of the chips.

Everyday Cooking

It's a weeknight and you've been busy all day. Kids of all ages can help to get dinner ready, whatever your menu. Even very young children can wash vegetables. Have a sturdy chair at the sink that they can stand on, and have them rinse the vegetables in cold water.

Quite young kids can learn to use vegetable peelers safely, and peel vegetables such as carrots. Be sure to show them how to hold the peeler, and emphasize that it is sharp. (Once again, you have to judge the capabilities of the kid you're working with.) Let kids practice peeling with a peeler, without worrying about whether or not they're doing a "good" job at first. Let them get the feel of it. Eventually, you'll have a prep helper.

If you want a salad, the kids can wash the lettuce, spin it in a salad spinner or dry it gently with paper towels or a clean cloth towel, tear it up, and put it in the salad bowl.

A kid who can use measuring spoons can make a simple vinaigrette. (A kid who is learning multiplication can double or triple ingredients, but that's only useful if you want more salad dressing. If you want less vinaigrette, find a kid who is learning division.)

Simple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Equipment needed:

A bowl and a small whisk or fork.

2 Tbsp. vinegar (red wine vinegar or balsamic)

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

6 Tbsp. olive oil

Put the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in the bowl. Mix with the whisk, or beat using the fork. Add the olive oil while continuing to mix.

You can vary this recipe by adding any herbs you might like.

Other Ways that Children Can Help

Most kids enjoy hands-on, touching food jobs. If you're making hamburgers, the kid can shape the patties.

Emphasize that the most important thing in working with ground meat is that you want to handle the meat as little as possible. The meat should not be squeezed or squished, rather gently shaped into a patty. And, of course, wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling the ground meat. Use the opportunity to improve math skills: if you have one pound of meat, and want four burgers, how much each burger will weigh? If you have a scale, have the kid weigh out the meat. If you don't have a scale, have the kid divide the meat into four portions.

Kids can do many jobs in the kitchen. Just break the job down into small tasks, and put the kids to work!

Some simple foods kids enjoy cooking: (I’ve given a few barebones recipes and suggestions. You can figure out more.)

Baked potatoes: Wash potatoes. Dry potatoes and rub with oil. Prick with a fork or knife so they don't explode. Bake at 400º until soft (about 45 minutes). You can also cook potatoes in a microwave for about 10 minutes, but you'll have something closer to steamed potatoes than baked.

Stuffed baked potatoes: Wash potatoes. Dry potatoes and rub with oil. Prick with a fork or knife so they don't explode. Bake at 400º until soft (about 45 minutes). Remove from oven. Let cool slightly. Cut open horizontally, and spoon out the potato from the skin. Add a little butter, grated cheese, a tablespoon or so of milk, salt and pepper and mix. Put back in the potato shell and return it to the oven to heat through.

Quesadillas: Take a flour tortilla, sprinkle with grated cheese, top with another tortilla. Heat in the microwave, or crisp in a saute pan with a bit of oil.

Grilled cheese sandwiches

French toast

Egg dishes of all kinds. Scrambled, fried; get fancy with omelettes or frittatas.

Recipe for easy hard cooked eggs: Put eggs in saucepan in cold water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Heat until water just comes to a boil. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit for 12 minutes. Drain the water, and cover the eggs with cold water to cool.

Pasta (any shape or style they want) with butter and grated cheese.

Hummus (eat with Pita)

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 or 3 Tbsp. cold water

Method

Puree all of the ingredients except the cold water in a food processor. With the processor running, add the water gradually until the texture is creamy.

Teach older kids how to use a knife properly. (Refer to Zilla's basic knife skills lesson http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...f=108&t=25958&). Most important is to teach kids to use the hand that is not holding the knife to hold the food, curling their fingers under, using their knuckles as a guide. It is often easier and safer for kids to start with a serrated blade knife, and learn to cut with a slightly sawing motion. The knife can be lighter weight and easier to control, and a kid may not yet have the strength and/or coordination to use a heavier knife and chopping motions.

At holiday times, cooking with kids can create long-lasting memories. Cooking together can be a way of passing on old family stories, recipes, and traditions, or creating new ones. Involve them in menu planning as well.

Include the kids in your holiday planning and cooking. Celebrate and create holiday traditions centered on food. Plan and prepare your Thanksgiving meal with them. Bake holiday cookies. Talk about what you're doing, tell stories. You're providing food for the spirit.

Cooking for School Assignments

Whenever my daughter needed to do a major project for school, we managed to figure out a way she could use food.

Some of the simplest ideas, that even very young kids can do, make original science fair projects. When she was in kindergarten, she froze different kinds of fresh fruit, and made observations about the fruit in its fresh, frozen, and subsequently thawed state. Another year, she tried air-drying different types of food (possible in our dry Colorado climate; if you live in a more humid climate, not quite as realistic). We were all amazed at the rubber butter she produced. Still another year, she tried to grow molds on different foods. Sure enough, the best molds developed on food abandoned in the back of the refrigerator.

Kids can experiment with freezing water and different water/sugar and water/salt solutions, and observing the differences in freezing times.

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Another project was "No more brown apples for lunch." (Cut up different kinds of apples [choose from pink lady, golden delicious, Jonathan, rome beauty, macoun, etc.] put lemon juice on some of each, orange juice on some of each, apple juice on some of each; leave some plain. Observe which ones brown, which hold their color.) Let the kids use their imaginations. (For inspiration you can also read books like Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook, or Robert Wolke's What Einstein Told His Cook.)

To graduate from middle school, my daughter had to do a "culminating project." She researched, planned, and prepared a Mediterranean dinner for her teachers (they came to our home for the dinner). Her menu included Hummus and Pita, Spanakopita, Chicken with Lemon and Garlic, Rice Pilaf, Salad with Feta and Kalamata Olives. (And her favorite "Very Chocolate Cake" for dessert, because it's the best, even though it's not Mediterranean.) Needless to say, the project was a hit with her teachers.

For the very youngest kids: Let them start to play with food early. Sure, it's messy. Cover the floor and any surfaces with newspaper or paper towels and have fun.

Cornstarch Goop

Mix up some cornstarch goop. Just mix cornstarch with water in a bowl until it's a texture you like. I find that 1/2 cup of cornstarch mixed with about 5/8 cup of cold water makes a goop that seems to go back and forth between solid and liquid, but experiment to find the texture you like. Older kids will enjoy mixing up the goop themselves and experimenting with it. It's just plain fun to fool around with. Note: If you leave the goop uncovered, the water will evaporate and you'll be left with cornstarch.

Playdough

Home-made play dough: There are countless variations, of both cooked and uncooked versions. I'll give you one of each; if you google "homemade play dough" you'll get hundreds of hits.

Cooked:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

1 Tbsp. oil

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

A few drops food coloring (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth mass.

Uncooked:

3 cups flour

1/4 cup salt

1 Tbsp oil

1 cup water

food coloring (optional)

Mix the flour and salt. Combine the water and oil, and slowly stir into the flour and salt. (You can add a couple of drops of food coloring if you want.)

Other Ideas

Major cooking projects are fun if you want to spend a day or a weekend cooking. You can explore different kinds of food. Researching and finding the recipes can be part of the project if you don't already have a recipe you want to try. Activities can include shopping for ingredients, prep work, some preliminary cooking, assembling, and final cooking. Once again, how much the kids can actually do will depend on their ages and abilities.

Tamales are a great project. If you don't already have a recipe you want to try, the packaged Quaker Masa Harina (which you can use to make the tamales) actually has a good recipe for tamales right on the package. Other possibilities include Chinese potstickers, Spanakopita, and Blintzes. Baking bread is another good activity.

Post your questions here -->> Q&A

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