Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cooking with the kiddos

I found a really fun experimental kids cookbook tucked away in a forgotten box in the basement. I'm so glad I went rifling through the old "stuff" this morning. Three junk boxes in (and finding nothing worthwhile) I was ready to give up, throw it all away and call it a day. When I opened up that forth box and saw that blue cookbook with the red binding...those memories came flooding back. I could envision myself as a kid aspiring to be the little cartoon chefs on the cover with huge oversize hats and aprons. Memories of my dad and I standing at the counter, flipping through the book figuring out what recipe we would make that day. I can recall trying my hand at rock candy and watching a skinny string through the mason jar (which was tied to a pencil and laid across the top) amazed and delighted. My rock candy crystals were beginning to slowly "grow" on the string! Such fond memories. If you've never heard of Barron's Cooking Wizardry for Kids and you have young ones in the house (even a 5 yr old can help out with most of the recipes) I highly suggest you purchase this book! Below are some of my favorite experiments/recipes from the book-what is simplistic to adults can be fascinating to a child!

**A Pickles Project** (P.265)
Down on the farm, people used to make their own pickles. You can, too, just as easily.

Here's what you need:
1 medium onion
1 large cucumber

1/2 cup vinegar
5 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 or 3 shakes of pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, if you wish

Here's how to make pickles:
1. Cut the onion into thin slices.
2. Wash the cucumber.
3. Using a fork or a vegetable peeler, scrape the length of the unpeeled cucumber up and down. Make stripes all the way around.
4. Then cut the cucumber into thin slices.
5. In a one-quart glass jar or bowl, toss the onion and cucumber slices together.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper.
7. Pour over the onion-cucumber mixture.
8. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.
9. After that, keep the pickles in the refrigerator.
Hint: When the pickles are finished, save the brine to make more pickles. (The brine is the liquid the pickles have been sitting in)
Help yourself to your own fresh homemade pickles!


**A Rock Candy Experiment**(P.39)

Here's what you need:
A clean one-quart large mouth canning jar
A piece of clean white string
A metal weight, such as a paper clip or a metal washer
A pencil
A knife or fork
Boiling water
::Caution::-an adult needs to handle the boiling water for this experiment.

How to start:
1. Fill the jar with sugar.
2. Slowly pour boiling water into the jar. Push a kitchen knife down into the water so that the sugar gets wet all the way down to the bottom of the jar. Add more water slowly and then stir to make sure that all of the sugar dissolves.
3. Tie the paper clip weight to one end of the string.
4. Tie the other end of the string to the pencil.
5. Place the pencil across the mouth of the jar.
6. Roll the string around the pencil until the weight is almost touching the bottom of the jar.
7. Set the uncovered jar aside undisturbed in a warm place for several days.
-Crystals will grow on the string, on the jar, and on the surface of the sugar solution.
8. Break up the crust from time to time so that the water can evaporate. As the water evaporates, more crystals grow.

Now you have rock candy you can eat!


**A Cheese Eyeballs Project**(P.159)

Can you stand these eyeballs looking up at your? Can you pop one in your mouth?

Here's what you need:
1/2 pound of grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup all purpose unbleached flower
1 6-ounce bottle of small stuffed olives

Here's what you do:
1. Prehead the oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C).
2. In a small bowl, combine the cheese with the butter or margarine. Blend thoroughly with a large wooden spoon.
3. In a separate dish, combine the flower, paprika and salt.
4. Blend the flour mixture into the cheese mixture until they are throughly combined.
5. Measure one teaspoon of the mixture and form an "eyeball" around an olive. Turn the olive so that it is "staring" outward. You can form about two dozen "eyeballs" from this recipe.
6. Line up the "eyeballs" on ungreased baking sheets.
7. Bake for 15 minutes.

Hint: If you want to make them ahead of time, freeze them on baking sheets, UNBAKED. As soon as they are frozen, put them in plastic bags, and keep them frozen. Just thaw and bake them when you're ready.

Now you have about 24 cheese eyeballs, ready to serve at your next party!


  1. Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

  2. Thanks for the follow. I'm now following your lovely blog.


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