The magic ingredient – fun!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A few health issues, the arrival of a new baby boy (The Bear) and the Bean turning 2 kinda made art and craft a little more difficult. That’s not to say we didn’t do any, it was just that it was the texta and crayon with paper kind of art rather than an art activity. We now have a large collection of drawings and I will post at a later date on what to do with that mountain of artwork. But now that The Bear is sleeping well and in a routine of sorts, we have been able to get back into our art and craft groove and have now extended that to baking and cooking.

I love baking. It’s so sensory – feeling, tasting and smelling and so it is a great activity for little people. Now that The Bean is 2, he has greater fine motor skills and so is able to do tasks such as mixing, pouring and rolling. And who doesn’t love squashing cookie dough in their hands? It’s also great to encourage little ones to explore with food and to have fun making something that they can also eat. The key to a great experience for both you and your child is to be organised. Have all of your ingredients measured and cut up, utensils close by and any tins or trays greased or lined. Make sure anything sharp or hot is well out of reach and of course supervise at all times. You can have a small table set up for them, or set everything up on their high chair table if they are still using one. Or you can have them standing on a stool, but make sure it is stable and that you stand next to them at all times. Here is a great link on cooking with kids: http://www.kidspot.com.au/meal-planning/Cooking-tips-How-to-cook-with-your-kids—and-have-fun!+3504+757+sponsor-article.htm

There are heaps of good websites for kid friendly recipes.

http://www.kidspot.com.au/ is great as it has a tool where you can type in a list of up to 5 ingredients and it will come up with recipes that use them. It is well laid out into sections such as kids cooking, cakes and baking, meal planning, dinner recipes and seasonal and party. I’m looking forward to making these with The Bean once the weather warms up : http://www.kidspot.com.au/best-recipes/Healthy+25/Yoghurt-popsicles-recipe+3294.htm

http://www.taste.com.au/ is a well-known resource for cooking and baking. They have a kid friendly recipe section and have some great tips on getting your kids involved in the kitchen –

 http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/315/kids+in+the+kitchen I also like that you can see the nutritional value of the recipe and also read and add comments. I’ve used this recipe http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/3118/banana+bread many times and The Bean loved it. I substituted the butter with 1/4 cup of  canola oil and it turned out just fine and a little healthier too! We made it as a big loaf and also as some mini loaves which were a big hit with the little hands.

http://www.katebracks.com/ This next one is very new and I’m looking forward to watching it grow. Kate Bracks was the the winner of the 2011 Masterchef series and has just created a lovely website that also has a kid section called kids kitchen clubhouse. I love the look of the coconut bread plus it has fantastic features such as fact sheets and video tips. Fun to even just look at on a rainy day!

The next one has been a favorite since The Bean started solids. http://www.annabelkarmel.com.au/. Annabel Karmel is based in the UK and has written dozens of books on cooking for and with kids. She has a very extensive collection from baby purees to part food, lunch boxes, gluten free and family recipes. Although The Bean doesn’t have wheat intolerance, he does have friends who do so we might be making these soon – http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/gluten-free/blueberry-muffins. The only drawback to this site is a heavy amount of advertising and promotion of her products and books. But otherwise a very helpful and visually friendly website.

Another great resource is your local library. Head to the cooking section and you’re  bound to find at least 5 kids cookbooks.We recently borrowed Annabel Karmel’s You Can Cook and had a lot of fun making our own bread (more on that later). It had great photos, easy to follow instructions and The Bean loved the end result. I also made the swedish meatballs, the vegie fajitas and the sweet and sour chicken for dinner and he enjoyed these too. I’m planning on trying out the orange and cranberry muffins next. Another one we borrowed was Baking with Tiny Tots by Becky Johnson. Lots of great ideas and The Bean really liked just looking at the photos of the children doing different things such as rolling, mixing and spreading.

I still have my first cookbook which II was given when I was about 7. Usbourne First Cookbooks – Hot Things is beautifully illustrated with cute little characters and inspired me to try out more difficult recipes. The Bean loves looking through this one and talking about what they are doing and I have made quite a few of the recipes for his dinner, including lemon chicken.

When I was pregnant with The Bean a dear friend of mine gave me a copy of Women’s Weekly Babies and Toddlers. This is a great book for the whole family and i love that it also has a nutrition guide for each recipe plus a section on allergies. I have made the cheese and vegemite pinwheels and the spinach and cheese monster scones so many times and yet The Bean still gets excited about them.

Last but not least is The Bean’s favourite, Junior Masterchef Australia: The Cookbook. He loves this book so much and calls it “the yum yum book” It has very clear instructions and is a lot of fun to use. We now have the second volume which is based on recipes from around the world and my inner geographer is very excited.

So, are there any recipes, websites or books you would recommend? Or do you have any fond memories of baking as a child?

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