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Cooking Corner

Here, you can find quick meals, foods for kids to cook, and ideas for teaching basic cooking skills (as well as edible science!). Remember to be safe around sharp objects and hot surfaces and liquids!

Quick and Easy Meals

Breakfast

  • Parfaits - layer yogurt (make your own with the recipe down below), cereal (granola works best), and fruit in a tall glass or bowl
  • Stuffed pancakes - freeze any nut butter or cream cheese of choice as thin disks and place them on top of pancake batter while cooking. Cover with some more pancake batter and cook (and flip) until both sides are golden.

Lunch/Snacks

  • Rainbow celery ants-on-a-log
  • Fruit and nut butter tortilla wraps - some combinations could be banana and peanut butter, banana and Nutella, strawberry and Nutella, or berries and cream cheese.
  • Coleslaw - per bag of shredded cabbage, mix 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp agave, 1/4 tsp salt, and a sprinkle of celery seed.
  • Pizza bagels - toast bagels until golden, then cover with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Toast for a few more minutes to melt the cheese, and voila!
  • Garlic Parmesan Snap Peas

Dinner

  • Fish tacos - frozen fish fillets, small tortillas, and leftover toppings (shredded lettuce, shredded cabbage, coleslaw, shredded cheese, cotija cheese, guacamole, sour cream or plain yogurt, refried beans)
  • Turkey (with chopped garlic, hoisin, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and a can of tomatoes) or ground beef and rice

Dessert

  • Ice Cream in a Bag
  • Strawberries and spiced cream cheese dip - soften 8 oz. of cream cheese, add in 1 - 2 tsp vanilla, honey to sweeten, and sprinkle in nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
  • Raivas - These are easy Portuguese cookies that kids can make and have fun making squiggles and swirls with the dough.
  • Easy chocolate mousse

Kitchen Science

  • Make a sourdough starter - not only is it the gift that keeps on giving, but it's also an excellent way to demonstrate how yeasts and bacteria grow and live, as well as how bread is made. It can also be looked after like a pet, since it needs to be fed every few days to keep growing.
  • Make yogurt - if you don't have that much milk or want to make that much yogurt, don't worry. I usually make yogurt as I need it, so I use about 2 cups of milk to a tablespoon of yogurt. Once the milk cools enough to mix the yogurt in, I pour it into a coffee thermos and put the lid on (but leave the drinking spout open slightly to relieve pressure) and leave it overnight. Follow the heating and cooling instructions no matter the amount of yogurt you decide to make.
  • Making candy - learn how sugar caramelizes and the stages in candy making by making fudge, carmels, taffies (try saltwater or molasses), and hard candies.
  • Oxidation - through chemicals in the fruit reacting with the oxygen molecules in the air, some fruits (apples, avocados, bananas) turn brown. Kids can learn how acids (lemon and lime juice) prevent oxidation, and experiment with different items in the kitchen to see what else prevents oxidation.
  • Red cabbage pH indicator - by boiling chopped red cabbage and combining it with different liquides, kids can make a natural pH indicator and learn about acids and bases.
  • Homemade clothes dyes - turmeric can turn clothes yellow, onions are orange, spinach makes green, and red can come from beets. The best part is, these dyes are non-toxic, although they will still stain skin and clothes.
  • Oobleck - a non-Newtonian substance (meaning it does not have a constant viscosity) made from cornstarch and water than is solid under pressure, but liquid when not!

Cooking Skills By Age

Kindergarten and Younger

  • Washing and sorting vegetables and fruits - teach the names of fruits and vegetables as well as learning colors.
  • Dipping and breading - while an adult's assistance is needed for cooking, younger children can dip (and bread, if needed) foods like french toast and fish sticks.
  • Knife safety - teach chopping, cutting, and dicing, proper hand positioning, and cutting out shapes with plastic knives and dough (or Play-Dough).
  • Shaping - kids can learn the names of shapes and have fun making cookie dough balls and using plastic cookie cutters.
  • Good kitchen hygiene - start teaching safe cooking skills such as washing hands after handling meat and wiping up crumbs with a cloth.

1st Grade to 3rd Grade

  • Preparing fruits and veggies - destringing green beans and celery, cutting fruits and veggies with a plastic knife, and cutting herbs and leafy greens with scissors.
  • Sifting flour and sugar
  • Stirring, beating, and folding ingredients together.
  • Decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
  • Setting the table - where utensils and napkins go, where drink glasses go, etc.

4th grade and up

  • Measuring ingredients - knowing how many teaspoons in tablespoon, portioning and serving sizes, older kids can learn how to scale a recipe as well (1/2 batch, double batch, etc.)
  • Making their own lunches
  • Creating fun salad bowls
  • Planning a meal
  • Planning the week's menu
  • Following a recipe and cleaning up as they go
  • Using heat - boiling water for pasta and hard boiled eggs, cooking an egg in a fry pan, making pancakes, and making grilled cheeses in a pan.
  • Precision knife skills - julienne, dicing, cutting on the bias, etc.
  • Food storage and safety- freezing foods, storing leftovers, knowing when food is past its prime, safe meat handling, etc.
  • Experimenting with additions and substitutions in a recipe.

High School and Up

  • Making staples from scratch - ideas include pancakes, cookies, bread, mac 'n cheese, pasta sauces, stocks, and broths.
  • Learn how to cook in a slow cooker or pressure cooker - stew is an easy recipe and can use up almost any leftover veggies and meat.
  • Learn how to grill, roast, and marinade various cuts of meat and fish
  • Grocery shopping and sticking to a budget
  • Learn how to prepare and cook shellfish
  • Brew your own coffees at home (try this or this) and learn the differences between and how to make lattes and other coffee drinks.
  • Preparing offal, marrow, and soup bones

Credits:

Created with images by Bruna Branco - "Oranges" • Xavier crook - "untitled image" • Louis Reed - "Purple Liquid" • Davies Designs Studio - "Kid Picked Fresh Cherry Tomatoes"