Cooking with kids, Miranda Gardiner gets messy in the kitchen
PUBLISHED: 09:43 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:11 26 February 2013
"Mum, the marshmallows have exploded all over the microwave," my ten-year-old son announced five minutes before I opened the laptop to sit down and write this piece.
Cooking with Kids
Miranda Gardiner knows how best to get messy in the kitchen with your children and shares some tasty, easy recipes
Mum, the marshmallows have exploded all over the microwave, my ten-year-old son, Bear, announced five minutes before I opened the laptop to sit down and write this piece. Ive learnt that, even if the end product is a kitchen with a new crusty patina, all that dough-mixing, lemon-squeezing, nut-shelling, cookie-cutting, pea-snapping and marshmallow-exploding encourages children to feel comfortable in the kitchen and be able to cook healthy food for themselves and others. As a child, I learnt to cook by watching, chopping, stirring and licking the mixing bowl clean. Passing on the culinary torch should be something our children get to take away with them when they leave the pride.
All that dough-mixing, lemon-squeezing, nut-shelling, cookie-cutting, pea-snapping and marshmallow-exploding encourages children to feel comfortable in the kitchen and cook healthy food
Surprisingly, bread is one of the first things I cooked with my children. My youngest son made bread with me as a toddler, helping with the flour, yeast and, in this case, golden linseed. It was only over the next few days that I realised exactly how much he had actually poured into his nappy! These days, bread-making has morphed into weekly DIY pizzas, with each person shaping their base and putting their own toppings on from a range of chopped meats, veg, fresh herbs, fish, cheese, oils, chilli flakes and - their favourite - a fresh egg cracked on top.
Year by year, my children have become more involved in the whole process of collecting, preparing, cooking and serving food. My oldest son, Erasmus, has caught brown and rainbow trout, snapper and baby shark over the last year. Hes also very handy at slicing mushrooms in the fields above Bigbury with his pocket knife, but he really wouldnt want to eat them! Magi, 8, and Bear, 10, collect wild garlic from the hedgerows near our house, autumn raspberries, herbs and leaves from the garden and make their own salads and dressings. This Christmas, in Tom and Barbara Good-style, we were involved for the first time in the whole process of bringing duck to the Boxing Day table.
My one-size fits all-type recipe, for children and adults, is a basic Victoria sponge cake: the 250g or 4oz recipe in old money. I love it that my children can cook any flavoured cake they fancy using this one basic recipe that they know off by heart. The recipe can be tweaked with chocolate, lemon, caramel, elderflower, coffee and walnut, fudge pieces or made into cupcakes or mini loaf cakes. My children have also made it into a pineapple upside-down cake using some fresh pineapple placed on the bottom of the cake tin. We glazed it with some apricot jam and ate it for pudding with whipped cream. If you teach your children one recipe, it should be this one: the genetic mother of all cakes.
Smores (from some more) are an American and Canadian camp fire treat that we seriously overindulged in last year whilst travelling! They can be made on a summer bbq but are as good in the winter using a toasting fork over the wood burner.
Milk chocolate (a thin bar)
1 Toast the marshmallow.
2 Take a piece of chocolate and then quickly sandwich together with the marshmallow between two digestive biscuits.
For more of Miranda's recipes click here