About this Blog

As I go into my second year blogging about cooking and eating locally, I am thinking more and more about my own heritage. Why is cooking and eating locally sourced food important to me? What values am I honoring by doing this and how were these values instilled in me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cooking with Kids

I have my parents to thank for my interest in food and my deep appreciation for and commitment to the time, labor and sacrifice it takes to bring food to our tables. I think I was probably about 5 or 6 when my Mom started allowing me to stand on a stool next to her at the stove to turn the bacon frying on the gas grill in our kitchen. As I grew older, taller and more capable, she allowed me to try cooking new things and as I moved into adolescents, helping with dinner became a nightly routine. When I was 10 years old, my parents bought 15 acres of land in Northeastern Oklahoma and populated it with beef cattle, laying hens, a couple of feeder hogs, bottle calves, in addition to horses, dogs, cats, a goat, a sheep and rabbits.

Although I was never a true convert to farm life while I lived on our farm, now, in middle age, I recognize the value of the time I spent there and how much that experience shaped my values and my attitude toward the food we eat.

Since my son has been old enough to stand with me at the kitchen counter, I have been finding ways to allow him to cook with me. One of the earliest tasks I gave him to do was to tear up bread for Thanksgiving day stuffing. Standing with him there at the counter brought back memories of working with my own mother and grandmothers on Thanksgiving and other holidays. Two years ago, I taught PJ how to crack eggs into a bowl, scramble them and then cook them up. At Christmas time, PJ helps me to make peanut butter cookies with Hersey kisses as well as gingerbread cookie cutouts.

My goal for now is to come up with ideas and recipes that are fun and are easy for PJ to participate in creating. Earlier this year, I found a recipe box filled with fun to make recipes for children. PJ enjoys searching through the recipe cards to find fun things to eat.

My new favorite cooking activity for the summer has been to create homemade popcicles. The July/August issue of Everyday Food (http://www.everydayfoodmag.com/) contains a recipe for Firecracker Ice Pops which I made with PJ and two of his friends.

Firecracker Ice Pops
Makes 10
Active time: 10 Minutes
Total time: 10 Minutes + Freezing

  • 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 pound blueberries (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups lowfat plain yogurt

In a food processor, puree strawberries with one tablespoon sugar. Transfor to a small bowl. In processor, puree blueberries with one tablespoon sugar. In another small bowl whisk together yogurt and two tablespoons of sugar. Pour the three mixtures, alternating, into ten 3-oz ice-pop molds, making 3to 5 layers in each. With a skewer or thin bladed knife, swirl mixtures together in an up and down motion. Insert ice-pop sticks and fre(oreze until solid 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or up to 1 week).

I made a few modifications to the recipe above. Instead of using sugar, I used honey to sweeten the fruit. For the most part I exchanged honey tablespoon for tablespoon with the sugar; however, with the yogurt, I added a ripe banana, approximately 1 teaspoon of vanilla and about a half teaspoon of honey. As the recipe suggests I put the fruit and yogurt into three separate bowls with a small condiment ladle in each one. This is where the kids some into the picture. PJ had two friends over, so they took turns filling three different popcicle molds using whatever combination of ingredients they wanted. For the tenth, they took turns adding ingredients base on my preferences.

The kids really had fun making the popcicles. They also enjoyed eating up the leftover berry puree and flavored yogurt. However, eating their final product wasn't as popular as I'd hoped. While the kids are very willing to polish off a commercially produced popcicle that is heavily sweetened, they lost interest in the homemade popcicles midway through eating them. I will continue to experiment with ingredients and hope that overtime they become a favorite summer treat.

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