The following post by contributor Christen Babb and originally appeared in March of 2010.
Every parent intuitively knows that the more your child is personally invested in a project, the more likely he is to learn and apply the knowledge gained. One of our many jobs as parents is to foster fun learning experiences that will encourage critical thinking and creative expression. If you are anything like me, sometimes it is hard enough to get through the day without adding another “to-do” to my list. However, when I decide to make an otherwise humble, everyday task a learning opportunity for my child, both of us are deeply enriched by the experience, creating a wonderful memory together.
Today, the featured recipes are in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. These recipes create an opportunity to teach your child a little bit about St. Patrick’s Day along with some hands-on-cooking techniques. Cooking can be an exciting and powerful teaching tool for your child. You can be creative with any of your favorite recipes, applying information about family heritage or religious faith, for example. As a bonus, your child will be more apt to eat the healthy foods he’s helped prepare!
Recipe: Irish Flag Stew
Encourage your child to help you prepare this recipe, even if it is as simple as pouring the cut vegetables in the pot. Make sure that you point out the orange carrots, the white potatoes, and the green peas in the recipe – symbolizing the colors of the Irish flag. Your child’s involvement will help encourage healthy eating. Paired with the following kid-friendly recipe, Whole Wheat Soda Bread, your entire family will delight in this wholesome and delicious meal.
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. lean stew beef
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
1 large onion, peeled and diced into 1″ pieces
5-6 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
5 small red potatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pearled barley
6 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium boxed variety
1 cup frozen green peas
1 tsp. dried thyme
Kosher salt + pepper to taste, if desired
Heat oil in large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dredge beef chunks in flour and place in hot pot. Sear beef for about 3-4 minutes or just until just browned , remove from heat, and drain on a plate covered in a paper towel. (Beef does not have to be cooked through as it will return to the pot at a later time.)
Add onion and carrots to pot; you may need to add a little more olive oil to the pot, depending upon how “dry” it looks. Cook on medium heat until onions are translucent and carrots are “crisp-tender”. Add barley, potatoes, seared beef, chicken stock, green peas and dried thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, allowing the stew to simmer until vegetables are fork tender (about 25 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Recipe: Whole Wheat Soda Bread
This recipe is based off the traditional Irish Soda Bread, but incorporates whole wheat flour for a healthier alternative. Unlike most bread recipes, this one is super simple so be sure your kids roll up their sleeves and get their hands in the dough! (I let my three year old “paint” the egg-wash on the dough.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
2-1/2 cups of buttermilk*
1 egg + tsp. water (whisked together for egg wash)
*You cannot substitute regular milk for buttermilk. Buttermilk has a greater acidity level than regular milk and therefore reacts with the baking soda to give the bread it’s “rise”.
Mix first 5 dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and honey/agave nectar and mix with a wooden spoon just until combined. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half and mound oval-shaped loaves onto a cooking stone or metal sheet pan covered with parchment paper. “Paint ” egg wash onto bread. Bake for 45-50 minutes until outside crust is a crunchy, dark brown. Serve warm with Irish Flag Stew.
While eating your Irish inspired meal, encourage your child to recall what he learned about St. Patrick’s Day. You might be surprised at how much he remembers!
What about you? What ways do you encourage your children to help in the kitchen?