Archive for the ‘Chef’ Category

Your little one asks for a cup of water, and just as you hand it to her, she screams “NO!” and swats it away. Why did she freak out? When she asked for water, she wanted it with her Dora cup and the straw you gave to her yesterday, not the little purple sippy cup. What is wrong with you?

For toddlers, language issues are often the cause of emotional upsets. For the cup scenario is just a classic example. Your daughter expected exactly what she got last time, but she simply did not have the vocabulary to ask for that particular cup. And even though she did not react politely, it actually makes sense, in this case, to give it to her. Look at it this way: You are meeting your child’s need, now that you have figured it out, and you might even be preventing an even bigger meltdown.

Toddlers do read faces very well, so use both your voice and your language to convey your message to them. And pay attention to your child’s nonverbal cues, such as tilting her head when she does not quite understand something you have said. At least, as much as her words, the results just may surprise you.

One last piece of advice: Instead of spending your energy cleaning up every last mess and worrying about discipline, embrace the toddler perspective more often. You may actually discover a more creative side to yourself and a more cooperative side to your toddler. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Sticky Fingers

 

One in five cases of food borne illnesses happen in the home. Do not let germs crash your Thanksgiving table!

  • Soap up. You have heard it a million times before, but washing your hands with soap is key, because it binds to germs, allowing them to be rinsed off with water. Choose liquid soap with a pump; bar soap left on a dish can harbor bacteria.
  • Wait to stuff. If you fill your turkey with stuffing, do so just before putting the bird in the oven. Leaving uncooked food out for an extended period of time while prepping can increase the chances of germs multiplying.
  • Take its temperature. Cook the turkey thoroughly, until the meat is no longer pink, to avoid the possibility of salmonella. (You can see recommended cooking times at usda.gov.) To be totally safe, use a meat thermometer and check the temperature in the breast of the bird, not the fat or bone, which could be higher. It should be at least 165 degrees when you take it out.
  • Double rinse. Even if you are using a pre-washed salad, wash produce again for 10-20 seconds, because germs and pesticides can linger on the leaves. The same goes for fruits and veggies. If you buy a head of lettuce or cabbage, remove the outer leaves and then wash.
  • Trace your steps. After handling raw meat, clean all surfaces, such as the kitchen faucet, sink, counter tops and cutting boards. Use warm water and soap, followed by a bleach solution. (One tablespoon of bleach to one quart of water.) Make a note of the routes that germs travel. For example, if you touch the raw turkey and then open the fridge, clean the fridge handle as well.

Following these steps will give you the best chance of having a germ free holiday and allow you to enjoy spending the time with your family and friends. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Reward your little trainee with dessert. Making cupcakes builds on the measuring and mixing skills that she has already practiced and introduces her to new skills. Like cracking eggs and creaming. Kids that are ready for more can try their hand at some simple decorating tricks that will turn each cupcake into their own masterpiece. So lets get down to the basics of baking.

Prep the butter and eggs: Show your child how to soften butter and crack eggs. Crack each egg into a tea cup before adding it to the batter so that you can fish out any shells much easier.

Measure and mix up:
Measuring your ingredients accurately is the key to a tasty result. Show her how to use the scoop and sweep method for dry ingredients to help her get it right. Then, explain that creaming/vigorously blending the butter and sugar is a key baking technique. When you beat the air until the mixture is pale and fluffy, the cake will be light and tender. This also applies to frosting, adding air makes it light and creamy.

Teach perfect portioning: Let her know that when the batter rises in the oven, it needs somewhere to go.That is why you don’t fill the cups all the way. Pouring with a spouted mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup will make it much easier.

Try out the toothpick test: This little trick will hone her powers of observation. Stick a toothpick in the center of a cupcake. If it comes out with very few or no crumbs the batch is ready. If not you may need a few more minutes.

Finish with frosting: A little trick for frosting is to put the frosting into a freezer weight ziplock bag. Just a tiny snip of one of the corners and presto, you have your very own pastry bag. This will make it easy to get the frosting right where you want it. Hint: The melting point for chocolate is very low, like 90 degrees. This is why you can whisk it into a warm cream in just a matter of seconds. It is also why chocolate melts in your hands.

Not quite ready for all of this just yet, try your hand at the apprentice chef. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Cooking

Now that she has graduated from the basics, your cook in training is ready to make a real meal. Besides having tons of fun, making quesadillas will teach her how to grate cheese, assemble ingredients, work at the stove and take the first step at developing spatula skills. For kids ready to take it a bit further, carefully teach them how to use a sharp knife to whip up a batch of guacamole.

Set Up For Success: What is mise en place? It refers to the practice of preparing and arranging everything you will need for a recipe. It is a great starting point for assembly line dishes, such as this one. Help your chef line up the ingredients. Open the can of beans, grate the cheese and put them in bowls. A rotary grater is a good place to start, but more experienced kids should learn how to use a regular grater. Keep your cheese cold, remove it from the refrigerator right before you grate it. Grip it at the top, leaving enough room between your fingers and the grater. Pretend your are petting a kitten, soft easy strokes.

Warm Things Up: Make sure you go over the rules first. Then show her how when the pan is hot enough, a drop of water flicked onto it will dance and evaporate. Tell your child to always keep a close eye on anything that is over heat. Sometimes a recipe will call for medium-high heat, but don’t be afraid to turn the heat to low or even remove the pan from the stove.

Flip and Serve: A long, skinny spatula makes for flipping much easier for your trainee. Show your child how first, then give her a try. Give her the kitchen shears for cutting the quesadillas into serving portions. If she can use scissors, she should be able to cut the pieces easily.

If your child is not quite ready for this yet, then check out our post on the novice chef. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Cooking

Here is your step by step guide for teaching your children how to measure, chop, slice, flip, bake and much more. Let the fun begin.

First you will want to introduce your child to washing, slicing, simple chopping, measuring, tasting and even improvising. Salad prepared with a homemade salad dressing is the perfect dish for new chefs. It is not hard to do, but it does have a number of tasks to do and it is an important part of the meal. For kids that are ready to go a bit further, making croutons from scratch will not only add a delicious crunch, but it will also introduce your little chef to working with heat.

How do you teach salad making?

Set up your work space. As you explain the importance of rinsing fruits and vegetables, set up your child at a clean sink or a large bowl filled half with cold water. If it is needed, have him stand on a sturdy chair or even a step stool. After swishing the herbs and lettuce for a bit, your child can put them in a salad spinner and whirl everything dry. Then tear everything into bit sized pieces. Have him rinse grapes and cucumbers in a small colander and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Introduce peeling and slicing.

Show him how to peel the cuke by dragging the peeler lengthwise from end to end. Always peel away from the body. Make sure you put the vegetable on a stable surface. Do not be tempted to hold it in the air. Peel away from your hands and always work directly in front of you. For cuke slicing, a wavy knife is the best bet. Let your child decide how thick or thin he wants the slices to be. Also, have him use a skid proof cutting board for a little extra added safety.

Mixing the dressing and tossing the salad.

Set up a little science lab where your child can learn to make salad dressing, first by using your recipe. Then he can move on to creating his own in future lessons. After he has added the dressing to the salad, he can practice his tossing skills with a pair of tongs. Be sure to explain that tossing means pulling the bottom leaves up to the top and not throwing the salad out of the bowl! Let him be the first to taste a leaf to test whether the salad has enough dressing.

Cooking with your kids can be fun. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Cooking