How to Make Cooking Safe and Fun

Now that school is over, or almost over, children will be home for longer periods. Make those days productive and fun. Working with them in the kitchen can be a fun, educational and a safe activity, providing certain rules are followed.

Following directions
In all aspects of life, there are certain rules that must be followed. Working in the kitchen requires certain rules and directions as well. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to repeat directions on how to do different jobs.

Tell and then show the child what needs to be done. Show how to “cut-in” butter into a flour-sugar mixture, for example, using two table knives or a pastry blender. Explain what “folding-in” means and use the spatula to show how you gently bring the spatula over and over to “fold-in” the ingredient. This often refers to folding-in beaten egg whites into the remainder of the ingredients.

Some children can remember a list of more than one jobs. For example, for some you can say: please get out the big bowl, the mixing spoon and the measuring cups. For others, asking the child to do one or two jobs at a time may be appropriate.

Read the recipe out loud to help everyone know what you will be doing. Pictures help, too.

Offer praise and thanks

Make sure you praise the child for offering to help and the work  done. You can also offer such statements as: “We really make a good team here in the kitchen.” “You are doing such a good job of following directions”. “Thank you for helping today.” Won’t our family be surprised when they taste what we made today?”

Following safety rules
There are certain safety rules that must be followed when working with children in the kitchen, such as:

Always wash your hands before working in the kitchen.
Young children should not use sharp knives.
Small appliances are not play toys.
Potholders and not towels are for handling hot dishes. Towels could catch fire from the stove.
Handles of pots and pans should be turned inward.
Always use a separate spoon when tasting food.

Do you have stories about working with children in the kitchen?

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Graduation and End of School

Everything comes to an end. For many these last days in May are filled with graduation plans and parties and thinking about what the summer, and indeed, the future, will hold for them. These are very festive times as well as bitter sweet times when the joy of the present can turn into feelings of “What now?”

For those of you in this situation of having your years of study come to an end, I wish you well. May all your hopes and dreams for your future be fulfilled. Though “study”, in some form or another, continues throughout life

My term here on this blog is also coming to an end. I have tried to squeeze in this writing, which I love to do, in between my work with food, which I also love to do. But I am finding that the summer is becoming too crowded with work and too busy. Therefore I must close down one part of what I love, to concentrate on the other.

However, I am delegating my writing blog to my friend and fellow food enthusiast, Lee Jackson. I have known Lee for many years, having worked with her on Amy Houts’  first cookbook, “Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids: Holiday and Regional Food and Fun”.

She is working with Amy on another book and I am sure she will want to tell you all about its progress, from Amy’s initial interest in working with children, to this, her second book in the series.

I know she will take you on an engaging, informative, and fun-filled food journey.

I thank you for reading my posts these past 2 years and for all your input and comments. It’s been fun reading about your experiences, both food and other, and hopefully I may have contributed some to your love of all things food-related.

I may make some guest appearances so, until we meet again, “so long”, and I wish you good health and good food.

Best wishes,
Chef Crombie

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Make Your Own Stuff

Healthy New Year!
Image by flickrich via Flickr

Did you know it really feels good to make your own stuff? Whether the “stuff” is making a drawing or picture, making a model airplane, or getting food ready to eat. When you make your own stuff for meals you can really feel creative and empowered.

And what would be a good dish to make for a meal, you ask? My favorite go-to meal consists of roasted vegetables and a protein food.

Roast Vegetables

You just scrub well and cut up any vegetables you have on hand. This might be foods such as potatoes (white or sweet), carrots, onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, mushrooms, squash, broccoli and others.

Then you dribble a little virgin olive oil over them, stir well to distribute the oil, splash a little balsamic vinegar over them and that’s it. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other large flat pan. Roast in 425 degree oven about 30 minutes.

Using a long handled spatula, periodically stir them to prevent them from sticking to the bottom.

They will come out with a nice dark color, maybe a little too brown in spots, but crispy and oh, so good. You start out with a large amount and end up with a much small smaller portion when they are through roasting. The flavor is delicious.

For your protein, add any cooked chicken, hamburger, or roast beef. Or you can just sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese over the vegetables and have a one dish meal.

To your health,

Chef Crombie

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Cooking at Home – The New Survival Tactic

Image via Wikipedia

Aren’t you glad you know your way around the kitchen and can prepare good food for yourself and others?  Hopefully the recipes in this blog have helped you come up with some tasty dishes to set before the king (I mean, friends or family).

The media tells us we are in a new era of thrift. There is a suggestion we may not be able to eat out as often as we would like. Perhaps the days are gone when everyone can go out for pizza or hamburger after a game.

This is not all bad. Think of the money you are saving. You can still invite your friends over for snacks. These late winter days continue to call for some popcorn popping time or quick and easy snacks like the following:

Bagel Pizzas

2 bagel halves
About 4 tablespoons or more
of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup grated cheese
Toppings of your choice

Place bagel halves on a cookie sheet with cut side up. Spread with tomato sauce and oregano. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Add any toppings such as pepperoni, cooked hamburger or sausage, olives, extra cheese, or what is available. You or an adult helper can put the pan in a hot oven (375 degrees) until cheese melts.

Should be yummy, especially eating with your friends or family.

Here’s to your happy “cooking at home” days,

Chef Crombie

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Get Kids Cooking

Give Kids the chance to create healthy dishes they make themselves.

If you give kids the chance to help prepare their own food they will eat more nutritionally. What better way to get them hooked on working with food than to have them “help” you in the kitchen.

Just like adults, many children when given a cookbook will not put it down. Encourage this. It is an excellent preparation for this life skill.

Here is a cookbook that will get your kids excited about wanting to make something in the kitchen. They will beg you to let them make something for supper. Check it out.

Making Cupcakes Using Your Baking Skills


OK, let’s practice some of your good baking skills by making something sweet today. These cupcakes are so light and fluffy you can see why they are called Fairy cakes in Britain! Cupcakes are great for taking to a friend’s house for tea, taking to your class bake sale, making for birthday parties or just baking for fun on the weekend.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily mix it all up in the food processor, so it is really quick to make. So it’s perfect for those times when you remember a school bake sale only just before bedtime the day before.

You can have fun with the frosting on these too. If there is some food coloring in the pantry, try experimenting with colors … you’ll find you don’t need very many drops of red color to get bright Barbie pink. Make one bowl of white frosting and one of pink and get creative with two tone patterns. If you don’t have any food coloring in the house you can add a tablespoon of cocoa to the powdered sugar to make chocolate frosting.

Light and Fluffy Cupcake Recipe

1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
½ cup / one stick soft butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Collect together these things: the food processor, 12 cup muffin tray, paper muffin cases, measuring cups.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into the food processor and blitz it.

Add 2 tablespoon of the milk and blitz again. It should be smooth and drop easily off a spoon when you tip it. If it is still too thick, add the last spoon of milk.

Put a paper muffin case in each cup of the muffin tin.

Use a dessert spoon to dollop the mixture into each of the cases.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes – they should be a light golden brown when cooked and if you gently touch the top of one it should be springy and not leave a dent in it.

Cool them on a rack.

When they are cool it is time to play with the frosting. The simplest frosting is just powdered sugar mixed with a little water. For this amount of cakes use 2 cups of powdered sugar and add 1 tablespoon of water at a time – you’ll be surprised how little water you need to make it into a thick but smooth paste. Add coloring a few drops at a time and mix well to see what color you’ve got to.

Put about one teaspoon of icing onto each cupcake, let it drizzle down the sides and then add sprinkles or make letters with silver balls.

If your Mom has a piping bag for frosting, ask her to let you experiment with it on your cupcakes. With the smallest nozzle fitted you can try drawing simple shapes and patterns with a contrasting color frosting, for totally cool personalized cupcakes!