Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cooking with Kids

This is not the first post I have written about cooking with kids, but this is a topic I feel very strongly about, for many reasons. Firstly food and preparing food is an integral part of life, without food we can't live. Teaching children about food is one of the life skills that is often missed in our busy schedules. So many children, teenagers and even adults have a limited knowledge about the production, storage and preparation of food, because they have not been exposed to real food. They have only shopped in supermarkets where all of the food is presented pre-packaged, most meals are presented to them without them having any input or knowledge about the cooking.

I believe that to counteract the obesity epidemic and the junk food lifestyle we need to talk about food and cook with kids. Parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, sports coaches, grandparents and other carers can all help to raise this generation of children with an awareness of the basics of nutrition, healthy eating and teach them the basics of how to cook.

Let your children shop with you, let them help to make decisions on what they will have in their lunchboxes or on their dinner plates, but do this in a controlled manner. Offer 2 choices, for example; "You can have an apple or some strawberries for fruit break tomorrow, which would you prefer?" or "We're having roast chicken for dinner tonight, which vegetables would you like to help me prepare?" Talk about the healthy food pyramid, how we should eat more vegetables and fruits than meats and carbohydrates and less fats and sugars. Soon these children will be helping to make healthy choices for the whole family.
When I ask my children "Who wants pie for dinner?" I am always greeted with cheers & the question "Can I help?" Music to my ears!

This pie recipe has become a family favourite, and like so many of our family recipes it is adapted to suit what is in the fridge. My children love to cut up the mushrooms for this pie, they also enjoy turning on the oven and stirring the pie filling. My daughter, now 6 years old, likes the responsibility of weighing and measuring ingredients, so I let her weigh out the flour and use the measuring  cups and spoons to measure out the butter, herbs and liquids. I like to think the flavour of these pies has the kids asking for more, but I think the fact that they help to make them also has something to do with the success!

Chicken and Mushroom Pie - adapted from a recipe by The Stock Merchant
4 rashers bacon (we use Sellers Meats at Merewether), cut into 2.5cm strips
1 teaspoon oil or butter
1 brown onion peeled and diced
150g brown mushrooms, sliced into 5mm pieces
300g free range chicken thigh fillets with fat removed, cut into 2.5cm pieces
40g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme - Herbies brand of course!
1 x 20ml tablespoon butter
500ml hot The Stock Merchant Free Range Chicken Stock
1 x 15ml tablespoon Marsala or sherry
4-5 medium to large dutch cream or sebago potatoes, peeled and quartered
butter, salt and pepper to mash the potatoes to your liking

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
2. Place peeled and chopped potatoes into a saucepan of water and bring to the boil.
3. Whilst potatoes are boiling fry bacon strips in oil or butter to make them crisp, add the diced onion and cook stirring until the onion is translucent, then add mushrooms.
4. Coat the chicken in the flour and thyme and add to pan with oil or butter – fry until chicken begins to colour.
5. While stirring the mixture, pour in hot stock and Marsala or sherry and create a sauce. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Whilst the chicken mixture is simmering, drain the cooked potatoes and mash using milk or cream or butter and a good grind of salt and pepper.
7. Take four 250ml pie-pots or ramekins and divide the chicken mixture between the four pots and cover with the mashed potato. Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes.
8. Once the tops are lightly golden brown they are ready. Serve immediately. These can be served with steamed carrot and broccoli for a colourful, fun and nutritious dinner.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree.

    This recipe sounds delicious - perfect for the cooler weather :-)