Ok, so my produce drawers are overflowing this time of year! And so is my dishwasher after all this cooking! I love summer produce and cooking has soooo many benefits for young children. In addition to the things you might glean from photos – children grasping, pouring and chopping, which aid fine motor development; comparing how things change into different states of matter from mixing wet/dry, freezing, baking; math in measuring and adding; and developing positive self-esteem from taking part in ‘adult’ activities like cooking, there is another important aspect of the food education itself. I love that the children get to investigate so many new foods and hope that it contributes, even if just a tiny bit, to their adult eating habits and understanding of where their food comes from. I was floored a few months back reading that 43 million children UNDER 5 are obese on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution site. It reaffirmed my belief that cooking with young children is beneficial on so many levels! Anyhow…
Here is what we made together with our little chefs at school:
To kick off July, we made these for Fourth of July – watermelon stars with fresh cream and blueberries.
AP, now two, whips up the fresh cream.
LO very proud of his watermelon shape cut outs. (We used metal cookie cutters to do these.)
For peaches, we started with picking these delicious donut peaches at a local farm. I thought they would be easy for the children to pit since they are soft and small and the pit doesn’t cling.
We still had to slice them, as BH does patiently below, but some were easy enough to just pull apart for pit removal.
I observed the group passing the ingredients and helping explain the recipe, like LO does with the oats and AP below.
I was a bit surprised to find MO passing so effortlessly to HR, expecting him to eat all the raisins and nuts in that bowl below, first. I guess cooking frequently with MO finally payed off!
The recipe we used for baking in these small, personal oval dishes was simple: cover the bottom with peaches. In a small bowl, mix 1 T flour, 1 T oats, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T nuts/raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Then everyone cut a few cubes of butter and we talked about how to work or “cut” the butter in. Pour the topping over and bake until bubbly. I remember my mom making this from memory and I now I feel like I have the recipe down, too!
And here is the recipe for peach ice cream.
Onto to veggies … summer squash!
Zucchini fries were a hit with house guests and children alike. We breaded these with panko and parm. and baked as fries – yummy! We made a small race between LO and BH to see who could bread them the quickest in an assembly line.
We also made Zucchini Bread. BM stirs the thick mix around with lots of muscle, and MO below, carefully filled the entire muffin tin without oversight. I love HR, investigating how the scoop lever works, too.
Next up was corn. Oh lovely corn. We talked about how it grows all around us here and I had a few students, including LO, who reported back they saw some growing in fields that week. We shucked corn and talked about its origins. We made corn-tomato bread, which was yummy. The recipe is from this book, 365 Foods Kids Love to Eat.
Below, JS tries to slice fresh kernels off the cob and MO beats an egg he cracked.
HB works on adding kernels to the mix.
AP and LO add dry ingredients, like cornmeal. I liked that we could see corn in different formats – fresh corn, cornmeal, etc.
Here is our finished corn-tomato bread. Moist and crumbly, served with a squirt of agave. Delicious!