Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen

We are in the middle of Summer. The days are warm, the evenings long, and for many families our meals get simpler. These easy meals are the perfect opportunity to get kids into the kitchen.

I believe that one of the most important things that we can teach our children is a love of food, a respect for food and from those, we teach them how to prepare food. I was brought up with food growing in the backyard; I saw the life-cycle, the seed, the plant, the fruit or vegetable and then the meal on the table. I helped with this process, planted seeds, weeded and watered the garden, harvested crops and watched and helped with the preparation of the food. I respect food; I respect the effort that goes into producing our food.

We are teaching our children this respect. They travel with me when I collect produce from local growers, they see the trees with the fruit laden, and they see the farmers working to harvest the crop. They see the fresh food on the shelf at The Fresh Ingredient, and they see it on the kitchen bench at home. They love to stand on a stool and help to cut up vegetables, stir a cake batter, shake a salad dressing, or assemble a burrito. Our children understand that food comes from nature; it is not a pre-packaged, plastic product that gets heated, or rehydrated. It was a living thing, which helps us, as humans survive. I often hear little Miss 5 telling her brother (4) that “if you don’t eat good food you won’t grow up to be big and strong”.

Child-rearing books and experts tell us that we should model the behaviour that we want our children to exhibit, use good manners, stand-up straight, read books, be kind. We should also model food behaviours, let them observe us as we eat our fruit and vegetables, as we work to avoid wastage, as we prepare meals. Studies have shown that if children are involved in the preparation of a meal, they are more likely to eat that meal; they have a sense of ownership.

Our children love pasta and they love cheese, so this is a winner in our home. They can be involved in the preparation of this meal by helping to grate the carrot and cheese, measuring out the milk, weighing out the pasta and butter, measuring out the vegetables, and helping to assemble the bake. It can be served with a simple tomato and leaf salad, or a spinach and avocado salad, my personal favourite!

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
·       350g shell or penne pasta
·       30g Udder Farm butter
·       2 tablespoons cornflour
·       2 cups Udder Farm milk (full cream or light)
·       2 cups grated cheddar cheese
·       1 medium carrot, grated
·       2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
·       1 cup fresh corn kernels
·       ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

·      Grease a 2L capacity baking dish.
·      Preheat oven to 180°C.
·      Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, following packet directions, until just tender.
·      Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in cornflour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat; slowly pour in milk, whisking all the time to make a smooth white sauce. Return to heat, continue stirring until sauce thickens.
·      Drain pasta, return to pot and stir in white sauce. Add cheese and vegetables, stir well to combine.
·      Spoon mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes until golden and heated through.

1 comment:

  1. So true. My girls love picking lemons from our tree and always want to watch or help when I am cooking. Sometimes it's tricky to find things for them to do but I need to let them in the kitchen more. I'll have try out this recipe!