First off, I challenged myself to try the new eggplant recipe we tried last week. The challenge was that I am not a fan of eggplant and I tried it again anyway. Instead of “back up” Saltines for bread crumbs, I broke up flavored croutons for the bread crumbs. It was delicious!
This leads me to a new challenge. Remember, your child doesn’t have homework but is supposed to be doing work of the home as outlined in the packet I sent home in the first week of school. Here you go! Parents often ask me what they can do at home to support their child’s learning. Forget the math facts and the review of math concepts. Start cooking! Over this last week I was pretty surprised at the skill level of the majority of children in regards to cooking. Some of the skills that I observed could use some improvement including: opening a can using a can opener, grating, hand squeezing a lemon/lime, using a sharp knife to cut fresh herbs or vegetables, scraping out of a blender, holding something (bowl, blender, scraping vegetables off a cookie sheet) in one hand while scraping it out with the other, and various other skills that are required for cooking.
My guess that many of them have better baking skills but cooking skills are a whole different animal.
Be assured that I have no need for every child to be able to cook, although that is the main place to start for a healthy adult lifestyle, but all the skills brought about by cooking are related and support more academic work such as holding a pencil (the strength to squeeze a lemon), prioritizing, time management, safety with sharp tools etc.
If you accept this challenge, it will take time. You are capable of chopping vegetables far faster than them. You will be far more efficient at chopping same-sized pieces of zucchini. Their eyes will water a lot when they cut onions. You can cut a carrot more safely than they can. That’s okay. Give them a bit of a start and be there with them as they work on it to become more efficient, safe, and as they persist through the tougher parts.
This week? Start with how to cut herbs with a sharp knife using the Black Bean and Corn Salsa.
Here are the recipes we tried this week; they are a great place to start with the above skills as the vast majority of children enjoyed the making and tasting of them.
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Idea: Use small sweet peppers as a “spoon” rather than tortilla chips.
1 can low sodium black beans, drained
1 can super sweet corn, drained (check for no added sugar)
1/2-1 fresh jalapeno, minced (a child can do this. Use gloves.)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
Garlic powder to taste
Cumin (I like a lot of it….maybe 2-3 tsp?)
Salt to taste
There are usually peppers in this but we omitted them and used them as spoons instead.
Combine beans, corn, juice of limes, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeño. Drizzle with olive oil. Add avocado at the end so it doesn’t get smashed. Salt and garlic powder to taste. Super easy. Good for lunches or snack.
Comments from the children: It’s so fresh! I’d prefer the tortilla chips. I don’t usually like peppers but this is good. Can we have seconds? It’s not as spicy as I thought it would be.
This dip may have had too many spices as a common response was that it was spicy. I think they were tasting the garlic. I’d try it again with less garlic and pepper. I think we’re going to give it another try with a slightly different recipe before I send it home. We’re really looking for things that can and will be replicated and sought out at home!
I really liked it as did many children but I think we can improve this one.
Cottage Cheese Ranch Dip
This was also well received. We cut up a bunch of veggies for dipping (carrots, zucchini, cucumber)
Cottage cheese, as much dip as you’d like
3 Tbl. Dried parsley
1 Tbl. Dried dill weed
1 Tbl. Garlic powder
1 Tbl. Onion powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
*You could also use a packet of Ranch mix in a pinch.
Using 1 Tbl of the spice blend per cup of cottage cheese. Blend it all in a blender. Adjust seasonings as desired.