At the beginning of November, we were lucky enough to go on a trip of a lifetime to Japan! One of our best friends, Naomi, moved there with her family around 18 months ago and we decided to bite the bullet and go and visit her while we had the chance! Even better was it was a girls only trip – no husbands or kids in sight….amazing!! Obviously, one of the things we were most looking forwards to was trying authentic Japanese food. The very first thing we ate in Japan, at our friend’s house, turned out to be our recipe of the month for November – Onigiri! Onigiri is basically triangular shaped sushi. It is made by moulding sushi rice into a triangular shape, placing a filling of your choice inside the rice and wrapping the entire thing in seaweed (Nori Sushi). We absolutely loved the simplicity of this dish and how quick and tasty it is. We bought Onigiri moulds (which we ended up getting off Amazon as the shops we tried in Japan were sold out! onigiri moulds) and the children had to fill these up with rice, stopping halfway to add their filling before topping up the rice. For our filling, we used Tuna Mayonnaise as we thought it would appeal most to children. You could use pretty much any filling you like – meat, fish or vegetables. The really fun and ‘awe and wonder’ part was turning the moulds upside down ‘like a sandcastle’ and pushing out the rice triangles. The children then really enjoyed ‘wrapping them up like a present’ in seaweed.
We were amazed at how many Little Foodies actually tried the seaweed and many really liked it! Onigiri is perfect finger food and it a great alternative to a sandwich for lunch. It went down very well with a lot of our baby siblings too! Alongside making our Onigiri, the children learnt a few facts about Japan and then had a go at making an origami dog! We were so pleased to be able to share a little part of our amazing trip with our Little Foodies!
Maths is such a huge part of cooking. It is the perfect way to get children to learn mathematical skills without even realising. During the course of a recipe, you can count, weigh, estimate, recognise numbers, use spatial awareness, recognise shapes and even use simple division and multiplication, addition and subtraction.
Recognising the opportunities for practice or introduction of mathematical skills is key. Rather than asking a child to tip a bowl of blueberries into a mixing bowl, ask them to count them in. When pouring cake mix into a muffin tray to make cupcakes, ask your child to count how many rows and columns there are. Ask children to estimate how many tomatoes (or whatever!) are in a bowl and then count them to check. Use different shape cookie cutters and introduce or recap each shape name.
We use digital scales a lot with our older foodies in our after school class and these are great to practice recognising 2 and 3 digit numbers. They are also really good for children to understand the concept of estimating and rounding. Sometimes 102 grams is absolutely fine when you are aiming for 100 grams, however, it is funny to see how adamant some children are that they need to get the weight spot on! It is fun to add or take away tiny amounts to get that exact number!
Happy cooking and counting!
September has seen us welcome lots of new little Foodies! In our classes they will learn lots of new cookery skills such as whisking, mixing and chopping. You might be surprised at how capable your 2 year old is!
Our 3 year olds who have been with us for over a year now, can crack eggs, pour and level off quite independently! They can recognise different pieces of equipment and even tell us what baking powder can do!
Our 4 – 8 years olds in our after school class complete the whole recipe by themselves!
So far, everything has tasted great too – which is always a bonus!
Our recipe of the month for July just has to be our Easy Peasy Pasta. We were so excited about the idea of making our own pasta with our Little Foodies and we were completely amazed by how easy it was to make and how well the kids managed!
We have to admit, making pasta from scratch is not something either of us had ever attempted before we decided to do it for Foodies. We had also envisaged it taking ages to make and rest – not to mention that we thought a pasta making machine was essential!
We could not have been more wrong – we did find many recipes which involved resting the dough for a good 30 minutes (not d-oable in our classes) but we soon realised this was not really necessary when we were not going for Michelin Star standard!
The beauty of making pasta with kids is the simplicity of the ingredients (flour, egg and water so you almost always guaranteed to have those at home), the consistency of the dough (non sticky and elastic so not much mess) and the kneading (super fun for the kids as they can really play, mould, squidge, punch – whatever they want!).
Our foodies enjoyed rolling their dough out and comparing it to their head size! It does take quite a bit of rolling but it is great to practice long, slow rolls rather than short, quick rolling. They also really enjoyed using pizza cutters to cut their dough into long strips like train tracks (a good opportunity to introduce the idea of parallel lines too). It takes minutes to cook and a little pesto or passata is just perfect with it!
If you want to have a go at making pasta yourself follow the link below for the recipe we based ours on! Enjoy!
As we are nearing the end of our first year of running Fun Little Foodies classes, we have been looking back at all the things we needed to do to get our classes up and running. When we first thought about running cooking classes, we looked into buying a franchise. We looked at lots of options as well as cooking, but it the end we decided we would challenge ourselves and Start from Scratch. There is a lot to be said for this approach – and a lot of hard work too! As teachers, we had absolutely no idea about how to run a business! We learnt everything from scratch, and are still very much learning! However, we found that we absolutely loved the creativity and freedom it gave us. If we want to do something or change something… we can! Starting from scratch meant that we needed a name, a logo, a business plan, a venue and countless recipes, activities, stories, games and songs! We have been so lucky to have eachother to bounce ideas off and have enjoyed thinking of everything which has built our business, all by ourselves!
In fact, one of the key principles of our cooking classes is the idea of Starting from Scratch. When you cook from scratch, you know exactly what you are putting into your food. Using less sugar and salt is one obvious benefit of this! We try, wherever possible, to teach our Little Foodies how to make simple things from scratch, for example, bread, pastry, scones etc. Again, like anything else, cooking from scratch allows for so much more freedom that ready made food. You can add things that you like, and leave out the bits you don’t like!
Sometimes having the confidence to start from scratch is all you need to start a new adventure!
Our recipe of the month for June is our mouth-watering Mediterranean Vegetable Tarts. The great thing about this recipe is it’s versatility – you can add anything you like as a topping and use up any leftover veg you have in the fridge! Kids also love pesto and Mediterranean vegetables are naturally sweet and juicy making them popular with children!
Puff pastry is a great ingredient to keep in your freezer. We used shop bought pastry in our classes for this recipe due to the time constraints, however we did have a go at making our own puff pastry at home (rough puff pastry anyway…) and it was surprisingly easy! Follow the link below to have a go!
This recipe required the children to really practice their rolling and chopping skills. They tried so hard and their skills are really improving. It also allows a little creativity as many children made a face or pattern from their vegetables too. Our linked activity for this recipe was all about sunshine as we talked about vegetables that grow in sunny countries! We included some number recognition too as the children had to find the numbers 1-10 for the rays of sunshine!