I always expected that I would cook with my child, but I never imagined that I would start so early, in fact when Mini Mck was really still a baby. For a start I never thought I would turn out to be a pretty relaxed parent, which I have, not caring about a bit of mess. This, along with the wonder of blogging which led me to the brilliant double act of Nick and Archie at My Daddy Cooks gave me the confidence to give it a go, when Mini Mck was about a year old.
By 18 months he could pour ingredients, stir, tickle (rub fat into flour), roll pastry and use a shape cutter. When I say he can ‘do’ them I mean that in the loosest sense of the word. However, he understands the concept and does a pretty good job.
A few ‘real life’ friends have asked me how I cook with him, as they don’t feel confident enough. If you feel the same, here are my tips for cooking with very little people:
* Be prepared. Get your ingredients together before you start. Measure things out and put them in plastic tubs so that your toddler can add the ingredients to your bowl. Pouring and tipping into a bowl is a great thing for them to begin with.
* Know your recipe. Until you get your confidence do something that you have done before, preferably a few times. You need to concentrate on what your little one is doing and they will want to go at a million miles an hour. I’ve been caught out in the past and forgotten to put something in at the right time. It just makes things a bit frantic.
*Expect mess. It goes without saying that toddlers will not be as accurate with their aim and your kitchen will get messy. You will probably use more bowls and utensils than you do when you are cooking alone. The consolation is they seem to like the washing up bit too. (nb: also messy!)
*Keep it simple. We tend to stick to easy snacks for Mini Mck. Oat Biscuits, Cheese Stars, Cheese Scones and Mini Quiches. I’ve written about some of these recipes before, just search for ‘Finger Food Friday’. The other benefit of this is that if you are cooking for your little one your creations don’t need to be very attractive looking.
*Relax and enjoy. This is the most important thing. Just go with it. They will get messy. They will eat the raw ingredients, although I did draw the line at egg shells. Just accept it and enjoy it. It’s not about creating perfect food, it’s about getting them interested and enjoying cooking.
Yesterday was our usual day for singing group, but it was bitterly cold and Mini had flaked out on the sofa shortly before we were due to leave. Instead we got in the kitchen and made quiches and fairy cakes AND a big mess!
and the finished results….
This post is featured in Thinly Spread’s ‘Something for the Weekend’. Follow the link for more ideas about what to get up to this weekend.