The whole idea of “spring break” is rather laughable when it’s too cold to go outside and winter storms batter the house from all angles.
Still, the children had five days off of school last week, so we had the “break” – just without any of the spring. Regrettably, all three of the kids were suffering from coughs and colds, so we laid low, watched movies, built pillow forts and ate a lot of homemade soup.
We also cooked up plenty of fun in the kitchen, with each child taking a turn to prepare various meals and snacks for the family. It was really lovely to have ample time to cook – and teach – instead of the frequent rush that is our daily life with 3 kids and 2 jobs.
Here’s a snapshot of what Noah cooked, Mateo baked and Clara scarfed down with a side of tortilla chips last week. Whether you and the children are bored at home on a snow day or you just want to encourage your kid’s culinary chops, you’re sure to find some inspiration here.
Spring Break Cooking Camp
Mateo started us off in the morning with fluffy Spice Carrot Oatmeal Muffins. The original recipe is in my cookbook, but my best ever One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins are just as delicious. Muffins are a great beginner baking project for kids because they can be mixed up by hand (no appliances) and they bake quickly, as opposed to a sweet bread or any bread with a rising time.
Muffins are also endlessly customizable (I’ve listed our favourite combinations in the past) and relatively nourishing, compared to cookies or cakes. We also love adding grated zucchini to the mix for a little boost of vegetables; take your pick between Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and Zucchini Apple Mini Muffins.
Mateo just turned 9, but he’s been baking for a long time now and is a little pro. His favourite subject in school is math and it is a thrill to see him double a recipe in his head.
Looking for more ideas for this age? Check out Kitchen Tasks for Kids Ages 6 to 8.
We do everything by hand and this newly turned five-year-old gets right into the mix with passion and determination. Our kids’ favourite guacamole “recipe” is simple: 3 avocados, juice of a lemon or lime, and a dash of salt and pepper. Danny and I will jazz ours up with chopped cilantro and minced red or white onion, but the kids are purists.
We use a sturdy, medium-sized bowl paired with a pastry cutter/blender to mash the avocado and mix everything up in the bowl. It works like a charm and is fun hand’s on work for kids. I cut the avocado in half, remove the pits and Clara squeezes them out into the bowl.
She also takes care of the lemon, the seasoning and the taste testing, of course!
Noah, my eldest, likes to cook – and I mean really cook. He wields a chef’s knife with care, stir-fries foods with great enthusiasm and dishes it all up with pride. During our last cooking lesson, I took the opportunity to teach him about substitutions in a recipe while sticking to the basic method.
We wanted to make this Quick Chinese Chicken & Cabbage Spaghetti for dinner, but had none of the main ingredients. Did you catch the part earlier where I mentioned we were snowed in? Also, there was no way I was going to haul 3 coughing kids to a grocery store.
So, we read through the recipe together and planned our substitutions: regular spaghetti pasta instead of rice noodles, thinly sliced grass-fed beef (from our freezer) in place of the ground chicken and sliced white onion to replace the leek. And we were off!
In under half an hour, Noah was dressing plates of his delicious stir-fried cabbage, beef & noodles with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
Soon all three kids were slurping up noodles and there were smiles all around. After that it was time to put our feet up and watch another movie.
Looking for more ideas for this age? Check out Kitchen Tasks for Kids Ages 9 to 11.
Just as I am putting the finishing touches on this post, an email has come through from our school board. They’re calling tomorrow a snow day (it’s currently dumping down snow out there). I guess we have yet another opportunity to get into the kitchen together tomorrow.
Got a question about kids and cooking? Leave it in the comments and I’d be happy to share my thoughts.