Friday, 27 December 2013

Cooking for Kids-the sooner they learn the better!

I left my daughter to her own devices cooking flapjack in the kitchen this afternoon. She managed beautifully.I meanwhile, experimented with goats cheese and red onion quiches as we are having a buffet for New Years day next week.

Cooking is a skill that all children should have- if it is second nature to pop on the pasta and make cheese sauce to pour over it when you get home then, hopefully, they will be less inclined to use convenience foods and take-aways when they fly the nest.

So many people only really learn to cook 'real food' when they give up work or move to the sticks, well away from shops and supermarkets. Cooking is something people did in the 'olden days' before the invention of supermarkets and convenience times when mothers didn't have to juggle work, child care and after school activities. In the best seller I don't know how she does it the main character , a successful stock broker and mother. is frantically baking at midnight so that the non working mothers won't look down their noses at her when she turns up to nursery with her shop bought cakes. It made me smile- we've all done it. Only the other day my friend posted photos of TWO birthday cakes she had made for her daughter and iced at MIDNIGHT. One was for school, the other for home. How stressful!

For me the opportunity to learn to bake came when I gave up work and found myself with more time.Having our own hens encouraged me to make use of our new supply of eggs. I suddenly discovered that home made sponge cakes were so much yellow-er and wholesome than those you could buy in shops. I experimented with quiches and home made bread and discovered how delicious they were and made home made French onion  and spicy carrot soup.They were yummy.

I've graduated since to apple and blackberry crumble, jam. lemon curd and this year .for the first time. I made Limoncello for Christmas presents.

I still have a long way to go on the baking front. I don't do multi tasking when I cook and I certainly don't want a  kitchen /diner.Talking and cooking just don't mix unless you like charcoaled meat for tea. I can however do a mean Chicken fajita, or a Chilli con carne or curry which is  a great improvement on twenty years ago. Also Eton mess,flap jack and refrigerator cake no longer cause the mental anguish of former years!

I have learned shortcuts or cheats for emergencies too. Shop made muffins covered in home made icing or melted chocolate can be a life saver when the children have an unexpected cake stall or fund raiser and my daughter has made a beautiful rich chocolate cake from a box mixture then decorated it herself for birthday parties.

Looking back I wish I'd learned how to cook years ago. That's why I'm encouraging my children to cook whilst they are still at home. Hopefully they will learn to eat healthily and save money at the same time.

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