This post is the first in a series I hope will be a long-standing one. I am calling it Cooking with Kids and I hope you will enjoy it. Once a month, I will invite a guest to discuss how he or she includes children in the kitchen. Most kids are a handful and cooking with them isn’t always easy. I hope these posts will inspire you to keep trying new things with your children. They have such nimble hands. We must use them!
Today’s Cooking with Kids post is by Phoebe Carpenter Eells. She is a teacher, blogger, wife, and the mother of two adorable boys. She’s also the genius designer behind these adorable children’s clothes and shop. She is an accomplished home cook to boot. Phoebe shares some great tips and her kid-friendly recipe for Whole Wheat Pita Bread.
I’m the mama of two boys, a sweet and spirited 3 1/2 year old and an eager 9 month old. Since having kids, many changes in daily life have taken place. One big one is the ever-changing continuum of cooking with them, or finding a way to cook without them. Whenever possible, I try to involve them in the cooking or baking process. I’m here to share one of my favorite kid friendly recipes, and a few tips for cooking with kids.
My cooking with kids tips:
- Plan recipes that are kid-friendly. Baking is mostly knife-free and there are many kid-friendly options.
- Set them up with their own “station” for rolling, measuring and stirring. Give them responsibilities with clear instruction.
- If a recipe has to be just right, or is for a special event, rethink having kids help. You don’t want to be frustrated when your pitas aren’t round or your brownies have a finger mark in the center.
- Go into it knowing that there will be a mess, and that’s ok. They are learning from every piece of the kitchen experience.
- For the under two population, I love baby wearing while I cook or bake. Find a carrier (or carriers) that are conducive to the kitchen process.
- Have fun, be silly and enjoy cooking with your little one(s)!
Note: I usually double this recipe and keep some dough in the freezer for later.
1 package (or 1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour (I have used white, whole wheat and half and half, all with great success) plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon olive oil
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let this sit while you wash your kiddo’s hands and set up their measuring station (5 to 10 minutes).
Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. I let my 3 year old dump the flour in after I measure it. Salt too. He loves it and it work on his ability to follow directions. (Remember tip #4 here)
Turn the mixer on low and add your flour little by little (I use a measuring cup as a scoop). You can allow your child to help here, but remember that mixers are machines and their hands are little. Supervise accordingly.
After the flour is incorporated, I lock the mixer and turn up the speed (distract kiddo here and watch your mixer, they scoot around at high speeds). Knead this way until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Pull your dough out and knead on a floured surface until it’s smooth and elastic (if you don’t have the time to knead you can throw it in the oiled bowl right here and it will be just fine. Kneading is a good kid friendly task if you do have time)
Put dough in a bowl coated with the olive oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 500 degrees.
Punch dough down and divide into pieces (kiwi sized for the kids and the size of a small apple for adults). Roll out the dough on a floured surface (This is where my 3 year old loves to help, he’s getting quite good at rolling these out). The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick. Try to make the circle smooth, with no creases or seams in the dough, which can prevent the pitas from puffing up properly.
Bake on a hot pizza stone for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread puffs up like a balloon and is pale golden. Watch closely; they bake fast. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes; they will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket in the center. Wrap the pitas in a large kitchen towel to keep them soft.
Adapted from the Food Network
NOTE: If you would like to be considered as a guest for Cooking with Kids, please email me your ideas. I may not be able to get to every email, but I will do my best!