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04/10/2010 21:44:00

Successful Cooking With Children
An Interview With Times Children's Food Expert Beverley Glock

So maybe you really want to start cooking with your children. But you're a bit anxious. Do I need to have special equipment, or get myself all prepped up first?

What's the best kind of recipe for children, and what is likely to go wrong?

Beverley Glock is a food writer and presenter who specialises in children's and family food. She contributes to The Times on children's cookery, and runs a cookery school and online store
Splat Cookery.

Two mums and a childminder from my village asked me to ask Beverley the following questions:

Why do you think it is important for children to learn to cook?

Children are more likely to eat food that they have helped prepare themselves, they may not like peppers but if they already like a dish and see peppers being prepared to be included in that dish, eg spaghetti bolognaise, then they may be tempted to try the pepper raw. If children are introduced to helping to prepare meals and to cooking with help themselves they'll grow up understanding this is a part of life, that it's not difficult and that way it will become natural to keep cooking when they grow up too. I also hope that in turn the children will encourage their parents to cook more and explore different ingredients and recipes together.

What are the main things to prepare before getting kids in the kitchen?
I'm not sure that you should 'prepare' anything before getting children in the kitchen.
Adults should use sharps and do the heat work but you still need to tell children not to touch the oven, stove top, knives and explain why, they'll see you wearing oven gloves to protect your hands from the heat and even if you chop the root vegetables your children can help wash or peel them. Share the preparation of food including wiping down work surfaces before and after and the washing and drying up too, it's all part of cooking.

How do you cope with cooking with more than one child or different ages?
What about teachers or childcarers with larger groups of kids? If you are cooking with children of different ages then split the tasks between the two children, the younger gets to do the simpler tasks and the older one does the more complicated ones, providing that the older child is capable of this, there are some 6 year olds who are much more responsible and capable than some 11 year olds I've worked with.

What, in your experience, are the kitchen jobs which children enjoy the most?

Ooh, definitely peeling, grating and preparing fruit and vegetables. Children seem to enjoy this much more than mixing and traditional 'baking' methods, maybe because it makes them feel like they are cooking properly

What are the most common mistakes people make cooking with children?
Underestimating what they are capable of, children are more capable than we give them credit for. It may not look as good as your version and they may make more mess but as long as it tastes good, it's ok - both kitchens and children come washable. Also a lot of adults tell their children that 'they won't like this food or that ingredient' without allowing them to try and experiment.

What other advice would you like to give budding young chefs and their parents or teachers?

Experiment with flavours and food, go into the local market and just see what you fancy and what smells good and ripe, take it home and try different ways of cooking with it and mixing different flavours with it. Some will work, some won't, some will be amazing but if you don't try you won't find out and the worst that will happen is you'll throw it away and start again.




















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