February 20, 2019 7:08 am Leave your thoughts
February half-term: one of the harder school holidays to battle through (potentially). The weather’s not looking too bad right now, but even so, we’re some way off lazy days paddling in streams and picnicking in the park. Cinema? Soft play? Den-building under the table? They all have their place – but it’s almost inevitable, if you’re on parent-duty this week, that you’ll also find yourself doing a spot of half-term cooking. We’ve got five great ideas….(not all unhealthy)!
Watching a film together? Don’t turn it on until you’ve made some popcorn. Immensely entertaining to make, popcorn is – at least until you add the toppings – also perfectly healthy. It’s a science lesson, too. Here’s the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis:
‘Inside each kernel of popcorn is a tiny droplet of water surrounded by a hard shell called a hull. As the popcorn is heated, the water turns into steam, which builds pressure inside the kernel. When the hull can no longer contain the pressure —POP! — the kernel explodes, and a fluffy new piece of popcorn is born.’
Here’s how to do it:
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan (with a see-through lid). Tip half a cup of popcorn kernels into the pan and put the lid on. Continue to heat: the kernels will start to explode. Once the popping has slowed right down, remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully take off the lid. You’ll always get one or two kernels that haven’t popped, but you’ll have a mass of soft, freshly popped corn.
And here’s what to mix in with it:
I’ve yet to meet a child I liked who didn’t like pitta breads. Another fun thing to make, these can then be stuffed with whatever you desire, making them ideal for fussy eaters. Here’s our recipe (makes six pitta breads).
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
175ml warm water
Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Stir in enough water to make a soft dough (add more if required). Knead the dough for five minutes on a floured surface, then return to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea-towel or clingfilm. Leave the dough in a warm place for about an hour –almost enough time to clear up the mess – until it is well-risen.
Now knock back the dough and divide into 6 equal portions. Knead again to make each shape as flat as possible, then cook in an oiled frying pan, over a medium heat, for around 1 minute on each side. The pittas are done when faint patches of brown appear on their bases and the insides have swollen with steam.
Handle with care (and a tea-towel) until slightly cooler!
Get in some early practice for Pancake Day – this recipe makes either fat or thin pancakes, depending on taste (and skill). Toppings need some consideration in advance, of course: go savoury with ham and cheese or a nut butter; go traditional with sugar and lemon juice; or go wild with chocolate sauce, ice-cream and confectionery.
Makes 4 child-sized pancakes: adjust quantities (of mix – or children) as necessary
110g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan, then ladle a spoonful of the mixture into the pan and fry until golden on the bottom.
Flip! Repeat on the other side.
Feed the ravening hordes.
Cheese straws make a great alternative to endless cheese-and-crackers or sandwiches. They’re amusingly messy to make and can be cut out into straws, rounds, circles, unicorns – you name it.
100g self-raising flour
75g cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a baking tray.
Mix the flour, salt and mustard powder together.
Rub in the margarine.
Stir in the cheese.
Add most of the egg (reserving some for a glaze for the top)
Roll out the dough and cut into shapes.
Brush with the remaining egg for a glaze.
Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness).
Many people will tell you that the best way to encourage children to eat a healthy or more varied diet is to get them cooking with you in the kitchen. Mix their own tomato-and-veg sauce, say the professionals, and children will gobble it down. Hand on heart, after a decade or so of such efforts, I can honestly say that this is not true.
But: if you genuinely want to be your kids’ friend, stop an endless sibling argument, or show off to visiting playmates, then this is the perfect recipe. It’s got just the right amount of cooking to make you feel there’s some point to it, but then just ‘sets’ in the fridge. Worth leaving to a particularly low point in the half-term.
Here it is: Chocolate crunch: food the kids will love
Tags: baking with kids, bicarbonate of soda, cheese straws, chocolate, chocolate crunch, cinnamon, coconut butter, cooking with kids, Dairy free chocolate, dark sugar, dried yeast, February half-term, ground mustard, honey, kernels, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard powder, non-dairy chocolate, nut butter, pancakes, pitta bread, popcorn, salt, sea salt, self raising flour, strong bread flour, sugar, syrup
This post was written by Yzanne