This whole cooking with the kids experiment is turning out to be a good learning experience for me, too. Pita and hummus I can practically make in my sleep, but when it comes to instructing someone else how to do it, especially humans under the age of 10, I had to stop and think about every single measurement, every step. It's a lot like teaching piano to a beginner, come to think of it. What follows is a list of what I've learned so far about teaching my kids to cook:
- Sequencing is everything; you can't leave anything out or the student/kid will be totally lost and get discouraged and want to give up. If you just say, "Here, open this can of chickpeas," you'll end up doing it yourself, whereas if you hand the kid the can and the can opener, show him how to use it, and give him a strainer to dump the chickpeas in (with a reminder about holding the strainer over the sink before he dumps them in...ahem...) he'll do it himself. Sure, it takes three times as long, but it's worth it. Which brings me to #2...
- When we do Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! we start making dinner at 4:30 if there is a prayer of eating before bedtime.
- Kids love gadgets. Even if it feels gimmicky, using fun gadgets can be the hook that gets kids willingly into the kitchen. Tonight's featured gadgets were: the food processor, the lemon squeezer, the can opener, and even knives. This evening we used the lemon squeezer and food processor several times so they got plenty of turns and didn't have to fight over them, either.
- Kids are more likely to enjoy what they're eating if they made it themselves. It's an opportunity for them to take pride in their work. Also, they will surprise you with what they are capable of.
Now for a few photos! If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen these already:
|Squeezing lemons is hard work.|
|Making dressing in the food processor is a group effort.|
|Who says 7 years old is too young to use a knife?|
|Pita fresh out of the oven. The pita, alas, I did myself without the kids' help because of time considerations. Next time they will learn.|
|Fattoush! Which of course the kids call "fat tush"!!|
*I didn't use specific recipes, but below is an approximation of what I did:
- Mix together 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, 1.5 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp yeast, 2T olive oil, 1 cup warm water into a dough, adding a little more flour if necessary.
- Cover the dough in a bowl and let it sit for an hour until it become puffy. It won't necessarily double in size.
- Divide into 6-8 pieces (depending on how big you like your pitas! I made six) and roll into rounds about 1/4" thick and 6" in diameter.
- Let the rounds rest for 15 while your oven heats up to 500.
- Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes. The pitas should have puffed up by this time. Then move up to the upper third of the oven for another 2 minutes or until the pitas are just browned.
Fattoush Salad (this is best in late summer when you can get all the vegetables locally or from your own garden! but it's still pretty good in late January)
- Cut up about 2 cups of pita or other bread into large bite-size pieces and toast in a generous amount of olive oil on the stovetop (I use a cast iron skillet), then sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Or you can throw a clove of fresh garlic in the olive oil before you add the bread to infuse the oil with that flavor
- Mix together a bunch of fresh vegetables that have been washed and chopped; we used romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper
- I'm really approximating here for the dressing, but I used roughly 3T lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, a clove of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup fresh herbs (mint and parsley), 1 tsp ground sumac, 2 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp salt - all mixed in the food processor.
- Just before you eat, mix the bread with the chopped vegetables and toss with the dressing. We also added some chopped goat cheese. Whether that's authentic or not, I don't care! It was good.
- In a food processor combine: 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed, 1 large clove garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 2T lemon juice, 2T tahini (sesame paste), 2-4T plain yogurt.
- As the processor is running, drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix until the hummus is a pleasant creamy texture and taste for salt.
- If I were making it for me and not my spice-sensitive kids I'd sprinkle it with cayenne or chili powder before serving!