For many families cooking with kids equals baking. I've been thinking about this and about the influence it has on developing a taste for cake and biscuits over vegetables.
I announced to Sol and River one afternoon last week "You two are cooking dinner tonight". (Sol is age 3 and River age 6) "Okay" replied River casually, following up with "What are we going to cook?" "Chicken fried rice" I answered.
I have a few reasons for making a point of involving the boys in cooking on a daily basis rather than just for fun baking cakes now and then:
1. Having them contribute to the running of our home from a young age (obviously in ways appropriate for their age) is something Pete and I both believe is a great foundation for them. And for us - we do not want to be running a hotel by the time they are teenagers!
2. They learn about food preparation and cooking and my aim is that by the time they are 8 or 9 they can cook dinner once a week. (What do you think mamas with older children, is 8 or 9 realistic?)
3. I think that involving them in the planning and preparation of dinner they will be enticed to eat what they cook - including trying vegetables they would otherwise say they do not like.
Reason number 3 definitely worked with this dish. They both ate the whole bowl with excitement and pride. Munching their way through carrots and garden herbs, River said between mouthfuls "Everything tastes better when Sol and I cook it". Perfect. Just as I planned!
I kept the recipe very simple and the ingredients to a minimum. We had leftover chicken in the fridge from a roast the night before so the boys cut the chicken up. I cut carrots in half so they would sit flat and be safe for the boys to chop. They enjoyed using kitchen scissors to cut up the fresh herbs from the garden. Cracking and whisking eggs for the omelette to include was another easy task for little learning hands. Peeling and crushing garlic took some focus. I had cooked brown and white rice earlier in the day with this recipe in mind. Leftover rice from the day before makes great fried rice because it has dried out but if you don't have leftovers cook some a few hours before you need it and it will work out fine. Sol cracked and whisked the eggs. I supervised River to do the cooking of the omelette and then the whole rice dish, he was so thrilled to be able to hold the handle of the frypan and use the egg-slide to check the omelette and then take charge of the wok.
River and Sol's chicken fried rice
2-3 cups Cooked rice
2 carrots, cut into 2cm sticks
2 eggs whisked
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
1 cup of cooked chicken, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup fresh herbs (from our garden we had basil and garlic chives)
Heat some butter or oil in a wok or fry pan and cook the omelette by pouring the whisked eggs into the pan and tipping the pan from side to side so the egg covers the pan in a thin layer. Cook for about a minute and then flip over with a spatula and cook for a minute on the other side. Set aside to cool for a moment then cut into bite sized pieces.
In a wok or large fry pan heat some butter or oil of your choice toss in carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Next add garlic and cook for one minute.
Add rice, chicken and omelette turn heat down to medium and cook until rice and chicken are heated through.
Dinner is ready!
Serve with tamari and if you like chopped spring onion scattered over the top.
* of course you can make this dish vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and adding in tofu or tempeh or another vegetable or tossing in a handful of nuts.
Any kids in your kitchen? What are they cooking?