The Things My Children Observe and Learn in the Kitchen

s in the kitchen

I love cooking with my children, even though it is something I have been criticized for in the past. In my opinion, cooking is also a great way of teaching your children a variety of new skills. Spending time with them in the kitchen is a great way for them to observe and learn and is also something that they enjoy!

The most obvious skill they learn is how to cook. It astounds me how many people reach adulthood without having learned to cook because nobody taught them when they were growing up. Not everyone is going to become a brilliant cook, but there are basic skills that everyone should learn so they can make themselves a simple, healthy, and nutritious meal.

There are many other skills that children can learn in the kitchen. For example, the whole process of cooking is quite scientific and reading instructions from an ingredient packet or recipe book is an easy way to get them reading without them noticing. There are some great opportunities to teach them math skills, too. Measuring, temperature, and counting all come into preparing food at some stage.

More important than any educational lesson I can teach my children in the kitchen is the value of spending time together as a family. Meal times are family times in my house and this goes from the meal preparation to dining together. It is the only time of the day when we are all in the same room and it is when we share the events of our days. 

boys at tea

 

Written in response to the prompt ‘observe’.

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Are You An Elaborate Chef or a Simple Cook?

foodie frog

Everyone has their own style of cooking and there are several factors that contribute to this. I think one of the main factors is an individual’s thoughts on the process of cooking. Some people see it simply as a means to an end while others consider it as one of their hobbies as it is something they love so much. The former will generally just choose something that is easy to cook while the latter prefers to carefully select their ingredients, spend time using a variety of cooking techniques, and presenting plates of food in a visually appealing manner.

Life experiences can also impact on your style of cooking and the types of food you like to cook. If you cooked with your parents or grandparents as a child, then they are probably a major influence on how you cook today. Similarly, if you have traveled to various locations across the globe and sampled a variety of cuisine, then it is likely that you are more willing to experiment with different flavours in the kitchen to recreate the dishes you have experienced during your travels.

Lifestyle factors can also play an important role. For example, I have worked in the catering industry, grew up cooking, and have international influences, so I am fairly experienced in the kitchen and have the capacity to cook elaborate dishes. However, I am also a working mother of a large family and a house that still needs a lot of work. Therefore, I regularly make simple dishes just to feed everyone in the limited amount of time available.

Overall, I would say I am somewhere in between an elaborate chef and a simple cook, depending on the situation and my mood. I am interested to know, which best describes you?

Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Elaborate’ on The Daily Post.

RECIPE: Wholemeal Flatbreads

hummus

Flatbreads are an accompaniment many cuisines from around the world and are given a variety of names, such as tortillas and chapatis. If you make the soft variety, they are fantastic for wiping up dishes with sauce, such as curries. When made crisp and cut into pieces, they are ideal for serving with dips, such as guacamole, baba ganoush, or houmous. They are also budget-friendly and quick to make. Many people prefer to make the wholemeal varieties of flatbreads for the additional health benefits. Here is how to make flatbreads for six people.

Ingredients for Wholemeal Flatbreads

  • 7 oz/ 200g wholemeal flour
  • 3 1/2 fl oz/ 100 ml warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil (plus additional oil for cooking)

How to Make Wholemeal Flatbreads

  1. Put the flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Slowly add the water while stirring in with your hand to create a dough.
  3. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and put the dough on the flour.
  4. Add the olive oil to the dough and knead for five minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into six balls.
  6. Roll each dough ball into a round, flat shape.
  7. Heat a little oil in a small frying pan and spread around the pan using kitchen paper.
  8. Cook each flatbread for two minutes on each side until it puffs up a little and has some brown patches from contact with the pan.
  9. If you want soft flatbreads, you can now serve.
  10. For crisp flatbreads, brush each flatbread with a little oil before baking for five minutes in the oven.
  11. Cut into pieces and serve.

RECIPE: Flatbreads

middle-east-flat-bread-671234_960_720

Flatbreads are served as part of many cuisines from across the globe and are given a variety of names. While soft, they are fantastic for wiping up dishes with sauce, such as curries. When made crisp and cut into pieces, they are the perfect accompaniment to dips, such as guacamole, baba ganoush, or houmous. They are also budget-friendly and quick to make. Here is how to make flatbreads for six people. 

Ingredients for Flatbreads

  • 7 oz/ 200g plain flour
  • 3 1/2 fl oz/ 100 ml warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil (plus additional oil for cooking)

How to Make Flatbreads

  1. Put the flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Slowly add the water while stirring in with your hand to create a dough.
  3. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and put the dough on the flour.
  4. Add the olive oil to the dough and knead for five minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into six balls.
  6. Roll each dough ball into a round, flat shape.
  7. Heat a little oil in a small frying pan and spread around the pan using kitchen paper. 
  8. Cook each flatbread for two minutes on each side until it puffs up a little and has some brown patches from contact with the pan. 
  9. If you want soft flatbreads, you can now serve.
  10. For crisp flatbreads, brush each flatbread with a little oil before baking for five minutes in the oven. 
  11. Cut into pieces and serve. 

 

 

 

 

 

RECIPE: Traditional Apple Crumble

crumble mix

One of my go-to desserts is an apple crumble. If I need to make a pudding fast that is a crowd pleaser, then this is always my recipe of choice. I make it so often that I do not need to look at the recipe myself now as it is so easy to make. For crumble novices, here is how to make a traditional apple crumble. 

Crumble Mix Recipe

  • 8 oz/ 225 g plain flour
  • 4 oz/ 110 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 60 g caster sugar

Apple Filling Recipe

  • 1 lb / 450g apples
  • 2 oz/ 50 g unrefined brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Pinch of cinnamon 

How to Make a Crumble Mix

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. 
  2. Weigh out the flour and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Weigh the butter and cut into cubes before adding to the flour.
  4. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers to create ‘crumbs’.
  5. Weigh the sugar and add to the mixing bowl.
  6. Continue to rub the mixture together.
  7. Peel core and chop the apples into small pieces.
  8. Put the apple pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir so all the apple pieces are coated. 
  9. Transfer the fruit mix to an ovenproof dish.
  10. Cover the fruit with the crumble mix.
  11.  Put in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the crumble mix is golden.

 

 

Unnecessary Kitchen Gadgets

gadgets

Recently, I realized the number of completely unnecessary kitchen gadget there are available. This realization came to me as I was wandering down the seasonal offers aisle in Aldi and I spotted an omelette maker and genuinely couldn’t think of the benefit of owning one of these gadgets.

I am a big fan of buying things that make your life easier, save you time or improve a particular aspect of cooking. I mean, who can imagine life without a food processor? Even items that only come out of the cupboard once in a while have their advantages. For example, I don’t use my pasta maker often, but when I do, the pasta I make is definitely thinner and evener.

My issue with the omelette maker is that I can see absolutely no advantage to owning one. Omelettes are something that I probably cook about once a month, so the rest of the time it would sit gathering dust on a shelf or take up space in a cupboard.

This is one of the simplest and quickest meals you can make so I cannot imagine why anyone would need this gadget in their lives. You still need to create the omelette mixture, so it is saving no time or effort at all.

I have similar feelings of frustration towards egg slicer. How often do you want to slice a hard-boiled egg and how difficult of a task is this anyway? Another item on my list is electric can openers, although these are fantastic for people who struggle to use their hands, Beyond gadgets, I have equal levels of irritation about pre-sliced mushrooms. Why pay more to save one minute of time? 

Is this just me or do other people not see the use of these things?

RECIPE: How to Make Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Depending on how you serve them, pancakes are perfect for breakfast, savoury family dinners, and desserts. It might surprise you just how easy pancakes are to make. Here is how to make perfect pancakes.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

Cooking Pancakes

  • Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  • Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  • Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  • Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  • Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.