Thursday, February 12, 2009

Creative Children in the Kitchen

When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.  ~Laiko Bahrs

I like to think of myself as a creative, experimental cook: inspired by recipes but not bound by them.  I am pretty slap-dash and rustic when baking meals and like to quickly whip together something sweet to treat my family every now and then.  I am always on the lookout for new things to try, both sweet and savoury.   Whether I am baking or cooking I really do go by my own nouse (somewhat disproving the above quote).  Having food sensitivities in my family has certainly encouraged this as I am constantly substituting ingredients in a recipe.  As my family requires to be fed (very regularly!!) and I am not willing to buy takeaway, eat pre-prepared, packaged or processed food etc., cooking is certainly one of my greatest creative outlets at the moment.

It is my intention to raise a creative family.  We make things together, bake, make music, draw together, build lego and find solutions to various fixit problems around the house and garden.

My Vintage Mixmaster, handed down to me from Mum.

I am delighted when my five year old Ess hears the mixmaster going and says, "What are you cooking Mum?" as she runs into the kitchen and climbs up onto the bench to join me.  She has told me on more than one occasion that she wants to be a chef.  So we break eggs and measure ingredients in our measuring cup, scales and spoons together.  We mix together (although she prefers that I do more of that) and lick the beaters together (I prefer that she does most of that).  How often however, have I asked her just what she wants to bake, from scratch, asked her what the ingredients might be.  Hmmm!  Not often enough and now I am inspired to do so more.

Ess's best friend came to school with a biscuit for her teacher.  It was made from her own recipe and she wanted to share.  She had sat down with her Nanna and wrote down ingredients together:
oil or butter 
(the latter was added after a little prompting from her Mam)

She and her Mam then set to creaming together 2oz sugar and 4oz butter.  Her Mam decided to add 4oz toffuti (soy cream cheese).  Handfuls of chocolate, sultanas and apricots were added (about 2oz each).  Then 4 oz flour was mixed in.  They were set to bake in a 180degC oven for 15 minutes.  All reports are that they are delicious.   You should have seen the teacher's face as she tucked in after her day's work.  She appreciated the chocolate - who wouldn't!

Photo courtesy Ess' best friend and her Mam

As I am part of Our Creative Community who have committed to creating and being accountable, and am committed to raising my family to be creative people, I will add this style of baking to my list of things to do with my girls alongside reading together, playing with playdough and singing songs with our own made-up words.  Ess is enjoying writing also so I think I'll ask her to write her own list of ingredients and we'll see what we can come up with.

In the meantime, on with my own personal goal of collecting and creating healthy recipes which are low in gluten, sugar and dairy.  You can see the beginnings of a list in my side bar.  This week I am working on some biscuits and some muffins.  We'll see which is perfected first!

If you have any kitchen creations that were ideas of your own children's, I'd love to hear about them.  Please share them here.  And let us know what you think of the bikkies.

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