Mystery Ingredients Cooking Challenge
We found this fab cooking activity on the wonderful My Kids Adventures website.
If your kids would love to have free range to make up their own recipes in the kitchen, but you're nervous that they will either hurt themselves or make something so inedible that it will knock their confidence, then this is the activity for you.
The idea is based on the Black Box challenge from the US Iron Chef competition or the Mystery Ingredient challenge for finalists on Masterchef.
Basically your child is given a bunch of mystery ingredients and then allowed a totally free hand to create something with them.
This works really well because:
- you as an adult can select ingredients which will work together no matter what they do with them, thus guaranteeing them a degree of success and confidence for next time;
- you can put whatever prep in beforehand which is necessary for you to be able to genuinely step back and let them work by themselves. For example you can pre-chop anything which requires a more advanced knife than they are able to cope with;
- you can decide whether it is a cooked recipe (if they are old enough or skilled enough) or a no-cook assembly only recipe if they are younger or less experienced. Therefore you won't need to help much.
Obviously as your children become older and more experienced you can make the challenge harder and introduce a degree of jeopardy by including ingredients which might not work together. That way they can make the same mistakes (or indeed the same delicious chance discoveries) that Masterchef contestants make, and perhaps learn by tasting something gross, what doesn't go together. But for wee ones you can let them discover that they really can make food from scratch by themselves, which will set them up for believing in their ability to make tasty things and not relying on processed foods all the time later on.
For details of the challenge, great photos and lots or practical suggestions check out the blog post here.
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