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Cooking + child = riotous fun!
Shilpa Bharatan-Iyer |
October 29, 2004
here was a time when many hands would pitch in to prepare a family's meal.
But with the nuclear families and hurried schedules of today -- and the fact that we barely manage to grab a bite to eat -- cooking may no longer be your favourite chore.
Not to worry, help is at hand.
And it just might revive your passion for cooking.
All you need to do is turn to the little members of your family.
It will prove a readymade recipe for fun and unforgettable memories. At least until the novelty wears off!
Do enjoy the going while it is good. Besides, you may just tap your little one's potential. Who knows, s/he might just decide to become a cordon bleu chef!
Here's a simple plan to make cooking fun:
1. Sort and store vegetables
Let your child help with the sorting and storing of vegetables. This helps in two ways:
~S/he learns to differentiate the bhindi (lady's finger) from the beans.
~S/he learns to count each vegetable as they are sorted.
What you need to do
Teach your child to wash each vegetable carefully before use.
Caution: Be prepared for the splashy time ahead!
2. Sandwich time!
Making sandwiches is be a great way to embark on this DIY plan.
What you need to do
~Cut the crusts of the bread ahead of time (if your child does not like the crust on his/her sandwich).
~Store chopped cucumber and tomatoes in separate containers.
~ Keep small amounts of chutney and butter in separate containers.
~Assemble all of the ingredients at the dining table or wherever you eat your meals.
~Place all ingredients within access.
~Set rules early. If your child must include a certain ingredient, make sure s/he knows the non-negotiables early! For example, if s/he absolutely insists on tomato sauce, only you will handle the bottle.
~If you have two children, assign cheese slices to each to avoid unnecessary strife like "She ate mine", "No! He cut mine!"
You are trying to make this an enjoyable experience, remember?
Butter knives at the ready.
And off you go!
3. Pizza fun
Making pizzas with your child is another great favourite.
What you need to do
~Get pizza bread; it is easily available in the market.
~Assemble the ingredients you want to use as toppings.
~Better yet, let your child choose the toppings s/he wants.
~Allow your child the honour of making your pizza too. It makes him/her feel important. It doesn't matter if half the cheese reaches his/her tummy instead of landing on the pizza.
4. Roll out the fun!
Chapatti making can be a great pleasure with your child.
~Get your child to feel textures.
~Introduce him/her to the art of kneading dough.
~This teaches him/her to add just the right amount of water to get the right consistency.
~As a reward, give your child a little extra bit of dough to mould and roll into shapes. See your child's creativity flower.
Next: Rolling out the chapattis or puris
Who cares if the chapatti or puri resembles the map of Australia one day and India the next?
You can do some quick fixing to make sure it is even and cooks uniformly.
But the joy on your child's face when he shows off to his/her friends will be worth the clearing up!
Tip: Teach your child to use the cookie cutter to make shapes of chapattis, puris, cutlets or even bread. It will add a new shape to the routine.
Caution: While making the dough, you will land up with extra atta [dough] initially.
But it's great fun to feel the dough slipping through your fingers and making those squishy sounds!
5. Whisk up a storm!
Making buttermilk from curd is by far the easiest task in any kitchen.
~Teach your little one to add water to the curd.
~Let her/him whisk up a storm.
~Omelettes are another great way to test your child's whisking abilities.
~Let your child decide which ingredients go in and put them together.
Caution: That done, take over. You don't want your child to handle the hot saucepan.
6. Baking is a different pleasure!
Can anyone who has baked a cake at home forget the joy of licking the bowl clean?
So go traditional. Bake the cake at home.
Let your child help with the mixing on condition that s/he licks the bowl clean.
Superstition has it that the cake will come out perfect only if this ritual is followed!
And, oh, forget your weight and join in the bowl cleaning process.
~Let your child grease the tin.
~Let your child set the oven's temperature and read out instructions to you.
~Help her/him crack the egg and separate the yolk (if required by the recipe).
It would be best to make sure you set rules in the beginning.
Last words in the kitchen
~Keep knives out of bounds to your youngster/s.
~Make sure the hot stuff is out of his/her reach.
~Make sure there is adult supervision at all times. If you have to step out, make sure someone else is with the child/children or the child/children is/are with you!
~Keep the oven/microwave STRICTLY out of bounds.
~While taking things out of the oven/microwave, watch for the hot stuff, especially liquids which may boil even after the microwave has been turned off.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
Do you know of recipes that are fun, yet simple to prepare? Recipes you have prepared with your kids? Do let us know.