Country Kitchen: Enjoying My Kitchen Helpers

Country Kitchen: Enjoying My Kitchen Helpers
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During winter break from school our home often becomes the hub for youngsters in addition to our grandchildren. Friends and second cousins come for the day, and we become involved in many projects from scrapbooking, writing, sledding, making paper snowflakes to cooking.
This brings back memories of cooking sessions with my daughter, when she and her dog Muffin bounded into the kitchen from playing outside.

"Can we make cookies today?" she'd ask, her cheeks rosy and light brown hair damp from snow.

My memories then go back further still to cooking sessions in the farmhouse kitchen where I grew up. I realize I was fortunate as a child because Mother encouraged my sister and me to cook as soon as we took an interest. I've since discovered that a number of parents discourage their youngsters from cooking and making a clutter.

Patience is Rewarded

It often takes a great deal of patience to let young cooks into your kitchen. Often it would be quicker and easier to do the work yourself. However, the rewards are worthwhile, if you will let your tots become involved.

When your children are old enough to stir a spoon around a bowl or drop cookies on a pan, you can enjoy companionable times together. Also, as they get older, they may even take over much of the meal preparation.

Basics of Nutrition

While our youngsters are learning to cook, we can begin instilling in them some of the basics of good nutrition. We can teach them about balanced meals, high and low calorie foods, nutritious yet tasty snacks, etc.

Also, teach them cooking safety and caution around hot stoves and ovens, electric griddles and slow cookers.

I hadn't realized I was paying much attention to my mother's chatting about nutritious meals, vegetables and meats, fruits for desserts, and various ways to prepare them until I was on my own and found myself remembering her advice.

Recipes for the Young

Some simple recipes my daughter enjoyed preparing when she was learning to cook:

HAMBURGER WITH MUSHROOM SOUP - Cook 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey with one medium size chopped onion. When done, drain the fat, then add 1 can cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper as needed. Add some water if the mixture is too thick for a gravy.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, noodles, toast, or English muffins.

(Today's variation, which my granddaughter often makes, is Hamburger Helper.)

POTATO CAKES WITH CHEESE - We often made this when I was a child, and Beth added the cheese as her variation when learning to cook. Form leftover mashed potatoes into flattened cakes. Brown on both sides on griddle or frying pan sprayed with vegetable spray or margarine.

When done, add a slice of cheese on top and let melt a little before removing cakes from skillet.

CHOCOLATE FONDU is an easy dessert for youngsters to prepare. If they're too young to melt the chocolate over the stove, do this for them.

Melt some chocolate bits, adding a little milk, thinning to desired consistency. Cut some fruit - bananas, oranges, pineapple, apples - into bite-sized pieces.

With a fork or pick, dip fruit into warm chocolate.

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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