How to Boil Water: Bear Cooking School…a cub scout den meeting

Cub Scout Cooking SchoolCooking is part of being a parent. Oddly, teaching kids how to cook rarely is. Sometimes a kid shows innate interest. Sometimes we make it so irresistible (chocolate cake batter, for instance) that the little people start sniffing around the kitchen looking for a beater to lick. But, taking the time to TEACH them to cook is a whole different ball game. First, it is a mess. Second, it has its share of actual peril in the form of burns and cuts. And, it makes a job that you are hoping to knock out in a half an hour take a much longer amount of time. That is the biggest issue, frankly.

Even with my own kids, I pick the tasks that I invite them to do. I let them measure for me and crack eggs, for instance. But I rarely get them over to the stovetop to do the actual cooking. And that is a bit sad, really, for several reasons. First, they love it. And, second, as someone once said to me, “every time you do something FOR your child, you are taking away their opportunity to LEARN something.” I think that was a shoe tying quote, but it stands.

Where to start? I let my kids help with whatever I’m up to if they show interest or if I need an extra set of hands. But what do you do if you actually want to teach your kids to cook? Where do you actually start?

… 

Read More »

Chocolate Cream Popsicles

Chocolate Cream Popsicles GOOD 2I bet you are hot and busy. I’m hot and busy. But, chocolate makes me happy. And, frozen treats make me happy. Therefore, chocolate popsicles make me happy, even when I’m hot and busy. They also, not surprisingly, make my kids very happy, too.

One of my earlier food memories is this…

When I was in kindergarten or first grade, I had a metal lunchbox with a pink and white gingham pattern. This was when my mom still got to pick out the lunchbox. My next was a far superior (in my mind only) Muppets lunchbox with Animal on one side and a very fancy Thermos on the inside. Now I know that the pink gingham lunchbox was the best lunchbox ever. And when I think of metal lunchboxes I think of that one.

We lived in Harker Heights outside of Killeen then. My dad was in the army and that was just one of our stops. It was a happy place and there were still woods behind the nearby houses and kids would rummage through there in the afternoons and capture Horned Toads. I had an early crush on John Denver. I actually remember how much one of my Shawn Cassidy loving neighbors made fun of me for that one.

But, back to my lunchbox. Some days, lucky days, my mom would tape a dime and a nickel to the inside of my lunchbox with clear tape. If I opened my lunchbox to find this unexpected wealth, I got to buy a treat in the cafeteria. The treat that I always chose was a chocolate popsicle. Every time. Without exception. How’s that for a happy food memory? And now, when I make these popsicles I always think of my mom, and the pink gingham metal lunchbox and the fact that while you cannot, perhaps, buy love…you can often buy big smiles for a few coins where kids are concerned.

… 

Read More »

Sweet Mandarin Granita

Tangerine Crush In a Blue DishI love seedless mandarins. They are often sold by trade names like “cuties,” and they are cuties. They are easy to peel and they are incredibly sweet. My kids will eat them by the handful and they are a good sweet treat to keep me from, say, losing it and heading for the ice cream shop. I do that often enough as it is.

We have been drinking a lot of frozen fruit drinks in our home. At least, I have. I’ve had a orange and vitamin C craving that I just can’t quite kick, and why would I want to? This treat grew out of the profusion of oranges and tangerines on the counter. I wanted a frozen orange treat that wasn’t quite as naughty (not quite) as the Orange Julius pops. So, this is what we did. We froze mandarin sections and we whirled them into a slush with orange juice and a little bit of simple syrup. The slush goes directly into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then it is stirred and scraped away from the edges of the bowl. And, finally, it gets another half hour in the freezer. The result is something like a sherbet or a sorbet. I think it is technically a granita because it is stirred up by hand and not frozen in an ice cream maker…but semantics aside, it is a wonderful after dinner treat. If you blend it right before you start your dinner prep, it is ready just in time for dessert.

… 

Read More »

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

mac lead Avert your eyes if you must…I’m busting out the Velveeta for a second or two. I’ve made a lot of macaroni and cheese in my day. I love macaroni and cheese. Obviously, my kids are fans. I have been known to break down and buy the box now and again, too, since it constitutes “memory food” for me. By that I mean that it was survival food in college and law school. Plus, let’s face it, much like Toll House Cookies, it was one of the first things that ever caused me to turn on a stove-top, and look where I am now.

On that note, and I’m a little frightened that I know this, but in a pinch you can substitute beer for milk in boxed mac and cheese. I recommend, from distant memory, also drinking more beer while you eat that.

… 

Read More »

Blackberry Lime Popsicles

I considered alternative names for these popsicles such as Bloody Murder Pops, Don’t Touch Me Pops, Vampire Pops, Get That Out of My House Pops, and Half Naked in the Backyard Pops. I chose the straightforward Blackberry Lime Popsicles…boring, perhaps. But, since sugar and water are the only other ingredients in this creation, it gives you some indication of how wonderful they are.

I’ve been daydreaming about lime related popsicles ever since I first ate lunch at Chicken Scratch in Dallas, a new fried chicken joint opened by Tim Byres, Christopher Jeffers and Chris Zielke (same team as SMOKE). It is a dream spot for anyone who likes chicken (here, chicken tenders are not low brow kid pacifiers…they are a legitimate grown up delicacy). But it is also highly kid friendly. Thank you, people. Thank you. But, the desserts are not fussy stuff…they are popsicles. And, they are awesome. When I go by myself, totally sans small people, I will still be getting a popsicle every time. My favorite, lime.

… 

Read More »

Last updated by at .