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Turn kitchen into classroom

Turn kitchen into classroom
Turn kitchen into classroom
Suetta Tingler
By Suetta K. Tingler, Special Writer

“Up, down, touch the ground. In the mood for food” go the words from a Winnie the Pooh song. Food makes people of all ages happy. When you teach kids to cook, they expand their palates and learn how to feed themselves. There is power in learning how to cook at any age.

Banging on Tupperware bowls, stirring up mud pies with dandelion garnishes and rolling Play-Doh into tasty pretend treats all promote the love for working in the kitchen. It has been said that the moment a small child can hold a wooden spoon, they’re ready to perform age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen.

The kitchen feeds both the body and the spirit of people of all ages. It’s in the kitchen where confidence and self-esteem bloom and egos boosted. The development of fine motor skills happens when kids are allowed to stir, knead, roll, crack, measure and sprinkle. Smiles appear as creative genes come alive to shine and sparkle with each cookie frosted as if a piece of art. Teens learn to explore the world with each new spice or herb they sniff while learning how to use. Encourage them to include a side of geography and history with each global recipe they select to make. Such could easily be the location and history behind the original Margherita pizza while blending and kneading the dough. Who would have thought there are strong comparisons as well as contrasts among crepes, egg rolls, tortillas and wraps to provide an “ah ha” moment for global eats?

Gentle adult supervision that includes the practice of kitchen safety is always required. The supervising adult “partner” can’t worry about spills, lumps, white dust storms or eggshell crunches in batters. There will be “mess ups,” and young kids must be made to feel secure when these things happen if the kitchen experience is to be positive.

Celebrity cook and cookbook author Paula Deen said it best about kids working in the kitchen: “It ain’t all about the cookin’.”

Make the kitchen a summer classroom. The review and practice of math is everywhere in a kitchen from using measuring cups/spoons, fractions, thermometers and newspaper grocery ads to compute costs. Review reading comprehension and sequencing knowing that recipe directions need to be followed for good outcomes. There’s the opportunity for “science talk” from ice cubes to the whistle of a tea kettle because cooking is science.

Over time, the young will grow into capable people who have come to possess talents to plan, prepare and host meals. These nurtured minds will advance to being able to calculate unit costs, maintain food budgets, discuss nutrition to make wise caloric choices, read with accuracy thermometers, speak cooking jargon as if a second language and come to embrace family ties through recreating traditional family recipes of those who have passed. Responsibility plays big when it comes to clean-up chores.

Hints and tips:

•When cooks are little, use an electric skillet rather than the full-size stove.

•Prevent spill clean-ups by putting the measuring cup in a pie pan; if spills happen, it goes in the pan.

•Use a serrated-edge plastic knife to cut. Put tape on the handle end to identify which end to use.

•If too young to read, use cookbooks with pictorial directions.

•Read and discuss the story “Stone Soup” and stir it up with your child.

You decide which recipes below are age-appropriate for your young cook. Adult supervision is needed.

Pineapple juice
Club soda
Pour 1/2 glass of pineapple juice; add club soda. Stir and drink.

1 (6-ounce) frozen grape juice concentrate
1 cup milk
2 cups vanilla ice cream
Pour juice concentrate and 1 cup milk into blender. Scoop in 2 cups ice cream. Cover and blend on high speed 30 seconds. Serve right away.

6 ounces butterscotch morsels
1-1/2 cups golden raisins
1-1/2 cups salted peanuts
Mix ingredients together. Easy to multiply recipe.

(“Pretend Soup” cookbook)
2 tablespoons refried beans
1/3 cup grated Jack or Mexican blend cheese
2 six- to eight-inch flour tortillas
Spread beans on one tortilla and sprinkle the cheese on top of the beans. Heat the skillet to medium-hot. Place the tortilla in the hot skillet and top with the second tortilla. Cook about 3 minutes then flip. Cook about 3 minutes on the second side. When golden brown on both sides, transfer to a plate. Blow on it until it is cool enough to eat. Makes 1.

(“Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls”)
2 teaspoons shortening
6 slices bologna, each about 4 inches across
6 eggs
6 teaspoons milk
Salt, pepper, paprika
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 6 muffin cups with shortening. Melt 2 teaspoons shortening in skillet over low heat. Place 3 slices bologna in the skillet and fry until edges curl and centers puff. Lift each slice with tongs into a muffin cup and press down so the slice fits the cup. Repeat with remaining meat slices. Break 1 egg into the center of each bologna slice to hold it down. Pour 1 teaspoon milk over each egg. Sprinkle egg lightly with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake uncovered in oven 15 to 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Loosen each bologna cup with knife and lift to platter with spoon.

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1-1/4 cups orange juice
1-1/4 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 maraschino cherries
Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons tapioca and 1 1/4 cups orange juice in saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool 20 minutes. Stir tapioca mixture with rubber scraper then fold in 1 cup whipped topping. Divide tapioca among 4 dessert dishes and top each with remaining whipped topping and a maraschino cherry.

Cherry preserves (jarred)
1 tube refrigerated biscuits
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven 425 degrees. Open tube of biscuits and arrange in a 9-inch round pan so they nearly touch. Press tiny hollow in the center of each biscuit with your fingers. Fill hollow with a teaspoon of preserves. Break egg into a bowl and beat smooth; beat in sugar and milk. This glaze puts a shine on biscuits. Brush on egg mixture with a pastry brush and then bake about 10 minutes. Remove biscuits from pan to serve at once.

(“Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook”)
1 (18-ounce) roll refrigerated chocolate chip or sugar cookie dough
2 (3- to 5-ounce) containers chocolate or vanilla pudding (about 2/3 to 3/4 cup total)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 medium bananas, sliced and/or 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate pieces or chopped peanuts
12-inch pizza pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using fingers, press cookie dough evenly into the ungreased pizza pan. Dip your fingers into a little flour to keep dough from sticking. Place pizza pan in oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookie dough is golden. Turn off oven. Remove pan using hot pads and let completely cool. Put the pudding, yogurt and peanut butter in a mixing bowl; stir together. Spread the pudding mixture over the cookie crust. Top with bananas and chocolate pieces or peanuts. Cut into wedges to serve.

1 (17-ounce) can cream-style corn
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix corn, eggs, cheese and salt in a 1-quart ungreased baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

(Paula Deen’s “My First Cookbook”)
1 pound ground beef
1-1/4 cups uncooked white rice
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (10-ounce) can beef broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put ground beef in the mixing bowl. Measure 1/2 cup of the rice and put it in with the meat. Add the dried onion, seasoned salt and Italian seasoning. Mix it all together with your clean hands. Roll into 8 or 9 golf ball-size balls. Put the rest of the rice in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour in the tomatoes and beef broth and stir with a spoon. Put meat balls on top. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake for about 1 hour. Let an adult help you remove the dish from the oven. Be careful when you remove the cover; steam will come out. Your meatballs will look like little porcupines with quills. Serves 4.