May 25, 2009

Working with Preschoolers

If you have been reading my blogs for a while you will know I really do NOT feel comfortable when it comes to cooking with kids. It is not that I am mean and horrible, it simply means I like control and I also like to know that my end result will turn out, instead of being a big blob in the middle of the oven tray.
That is correct- CONTROL FREAK!
It is really quite surprising to me how ridged I am when it comes to cooking and kids because normally I like to think of myself as 'happy go lucky' or 'relaxed and calm'. I can see my husband now, rolling around on the floor with laughter and shaking his head. I mean seriously, he still tells people how 'scary' I was when we worked together in restaurants (before dating) and how I was a force to be reckoned with if anyone dared bring an order back into the kitchen that wasn't correct (I mean come on that was pre-kids, I am so much more relaxed now......).

I was given the assignment from kidspot to do a week on food that kids could cook. I had to breathe into a brown paper bag and wipe the sweat from my brow before even thinking of 8 recipes!
 Once I pulled myself together I started thinking of ideas to keep stress to a minimum just in case there were other parents out there like me- come on I know I am not alone?
I also decided the only way to overcome my fear of kids cooking was to throw myself right in the deep end and see if I sink or swim, after all that is what we do with kitchen staff if we really want to see what they are made of.
I put it to Alex's Preschool teacher to see if I could come and cook with the kids- all 18 of them!! She thought it was a wonderful idea and was all over it. I was organized into a stupor (seriously teachers are so good at moving procrastinators along!) and before I knew it the morning had come when I was faced with 18 kids and a kitchen.
My first choice was Strawberry Pops,  a sweet treat I made up- toothpicks, strawberries, chocolate, marshmallows and sprinkles. I thought the kids could thread, dip and sprinkle all by themselves. How right I was, they were so excited to see the bright colours and soft warm melted chocolate! Once I explained what they needed to do all 18 of them started threading, dipping and sprinkling, it was like magic. I couldn't get over how neat and well behaved they all were. As we were nearing to the end I could see a few of them wanted to start eating so I quickly introduced our second project- Fruit turnovers.
 Puff pastry filled with homemade custard and tinned fruit- folded, and sprinkled with sugar. I figured I'd make the custard at home then they can put it all together. I did a 'show and tell', my expectations were very low so I was pleasantly surprised when I watch all the kids build their own turnovers. We has some triangle shapes, others were rectangles and there were a couple of others I couldn't tell what shape they formed! The most important part was seeing how much fun the kids were having and the stories they were telling of all the cooking things they do with their mums and dads.
Before I popped them in the oven I had to put them in the fridge so the pastry could be revived again (those little kids have hot little hands). I was so happy with the end result I could of dived in there and eaten a couple myself, however I also saw little johnny shove a finger or two up his nose and I wasn't going to risk it!
Alex was delighted to show everyone what his mum does while he is playing with them all at Preschool and I have to say I was so impressed with all 18 of the kids. They were cool, calm and collected, so maybe I am being a little to uptight when it comes to cooking with kids......this could be the case but I am not about to invite 18 kids over to cook in my kitchen anytime soon.
Thanks to all the kids in Alex's class, you did a fabulous job!

1 comment:

Barbara said...

So glad you enjoyed cooking with the pre-schoolers. Adams teacher decided they would have a bake sale last week and she spent thursday cooking with them - not too adventerous they only had a microwave. But they were so pleased with themselves. Then I had to let him help me make "millionare shortbread" - he couldn't have had something simple like muffins!! But the pride on the kids faces on Friday when they were the "shopkeepers" behind the desks selling the little cakes was great.