Since I’ve been blogging here I’ve loved getting to know so many of you from the comments and email you frequently send. I didn’t realize until last week, though, how far you all come to visit. It was exciting to see from this cool new blog counter I found that Life In A Skillet has visitors from all over the world. Here’s a map; 70 countries and 6 continents are represented, including Columbia, Korea, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Maldives:
I got an email recently from someone much closer to home – Dan Gilbert, communications director for Primrose Schools. He had a great suggestion for a guest blog post, and due to his position has some authority. Dan has written a number of articles on everything from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering and I’m happy to print his article here on “Cooking with Children.” Don’t be shy; grab your kids and dive right in.
Cooking with Children
by Dan Gilbert
Modern day cooking can be fun, addictive and an easy way to teach meaningful lessons. At times the amount of time we spend in the kitchen as parents can take away from the time we spend with our children. This does not have to be the case. Instead, utilize the time you spend in the kitchen cooking or baking by engaging your child. This is not only a great way to spend quality time together, but you can also teach your child valuable skills and life long lessons while having a great time together.
As Dr. Mary Zurn of Primrose Schools puts it, “The kitchen is often the most popular place in the house for families to gather. It’s a place for learning and sharing, where the family can enjoy quality time. Children can also develop a sense of responsibility by participating in daily tasks.”
By following these four simple guidelines, you and your youngster will have the recipe for success:
1. Build up skills step-by-step. Children can develop many essential skills in the kitchen, such as following recipes or counting eggs. For more advanced skills however, start slowly and have your child master easy tasks before attempting harder ones. Older children can gradually be taught to use a knife. Start them off with a dull knife, cutting softer items first such as cheese or fruit. As your child’s coordination develops, they can move on to slicing or sawing vegetables and dough with a plastic knife.
2. Engage your child meaningfully. There are many tasks children can do independently. Simple jobs like mixing batter, rolling dough and measuring water can boost a child’s confidence and give them a sense of accomplishment. Tearing lettuce, adding sprinkles to sweets and sprinkling cheese onto pasta are also safe, satisfying tasks children can easily accomplish. Even very young children can get involved – give them some pots, pans and wooden spoons so they can pretend to cook with you or use them for music-making. Your child may not be a future recording artist, but at least you know your child is close by and banging away happily.
3. Set some ground rules. Establish a list of safety rules with your children before you begin cooking. Little things like, making sure the handles of pots and pans are turned inward on the stovetop so you and older children don’t accidentally bump them and spill hot liquids or food are just as important as teaching children to wash their hands before and after handling food to avoid spreading germs. Children need supervision when they’re in the kitchen, so always keep them within sight.
4. Keep it fun. Most importantly, make sure you have fun with your child. Even if everything else goes wrong, at least you will have had fun doing it, together!
We all know cooking can be messy, even when the children aren’t around! Instead of stressing over the “oops” moments offer guidance and let your child try again. This is a better way for them to learn hands on. Your child will not only feel a sense of pride, but will also be happy to have your approval.
Now that your masterpiece is complete, sit down and offer you little sous chef the first bite of whatever you made. While enjoying your meal discuss what it is you might like to make next! Bon appétit!
Here is a recipe for you to start with:
Oreo Truffles Recipe (Thank you to the Dyjak Family for this yummy recipe!)
What You Need
- 1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups),
- 8oz pkg.. chocolate chips, melted
- MIX cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
- SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet.
- REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
- 1 bag Oreo cookies
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 8 oz.chocolate chips, melted
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- If using a food processor, add the cream cheese in large chunks and pulse a few times to until the candy consistency is that of dough. If you don’t have a food processor, stir together the softened cream cheese and crumbs until the candy is well-mixed.
- Place the candy in the refrigerator to firm up for about 1 hour.
- Using a teaspoon or candy scoop, form 1-inch balls and roll between your hands until they are round. Place the candies on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate them while you prepare the dipping chocolate and cookie topping.
- Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every minute. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, but do not let it harden.
- Dip the candy balls in the melted chocolate and place on the foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles, and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate has hardened.
Variation: This recipe is also delicious using mint-flavored oreos.
For over 25 years, Primrose Schools have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education. Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially.