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Old 03-09-2007, 09:45 AM   #1
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Question Cooking with kids (from scratch!)

Twice a week, my boyfriend and I go and sit with the son of a family friend and help him with his homework etc as his mum works late. I have started cooking dinner with him (to save his mum the trouble when she comes home at eight-thirty) but I'm running out of ideas for easy, cheap and healthy meals, especially as he will not eat soup in any way, shape or form.

So... any ideas for meals that eleven-year-old boys will enjoy preparing as well as eating?

Since we live in Russia, it means that it is not cheap or easy to use the common pre-prepared sauces (if you can find them, they cost a fortune!) unless they are pre-prepared by me so i tend to have to cook entirely from scratch.

Thanks a bunch!


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Old 03-09-2007, 09:59 AM   #2
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I'm just going to toss some ideas out - not knowing what you have tried already:
  • club sandwich
  • spaghetti carbonara or alfredo
  • tube pasta, like penne, with some roasted vegetables mixed in, kosher salt, olive oil
    buttered noodles with some cut up sauteed chicken, garlic, and maybe peas
    basic baked chicken and mashed potatoes and some vegetable

I'll try to think of more ideas.


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Old 03-09-2007, 10:02 AM   #3
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You'll probably get a lot of ideas so I'll send along the first one that comes to my mind.

Roasted potatoes are easy and cheap. I like to use the yukon gold potatoes but you can use whatever you have available. Peel them or not according to your preference, toss in some EVOO, S&P, some rosemary and/or thyme (or whatever herbs you like). I bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 - 45 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so.
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Old 03-09-2007, 10:07 AM   #4
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I used to nanny in university holidays so I have done this a lot, both to keep them busy and to get them to experiment in eating ;)

My suggestion is to ask him. Find out what he would love to do and find a recipe for it. The other thing that I found useful in helping kids come up with ideas are really appetising pictures of food -that helps you direct the choice to something YOU want to cook :) or themes: food from around the world (all cooked from scratch), so one day Italy, the next, france, then America...
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Old 03-09-2007, 10:12 AM   #5
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How about pancakes and macedonia (fresh fruit salad)? I mean, traditional blini maybe a little complicated, but the English version with self rising flour, egg(s), milk and sugar is very quick and simple!! (You can also use some lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon etc. for varied flavour), then maybe you can create an unique topping with smetana, or sour cream!!
It is getting warmer, probably even in Russia, so chances are the selection of fresh fruits may be expanding, too. Have fun!
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Old 03-09-2007, 10:17 AM   #6
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I really can't help you out with ideas, clueless of what is offered in Russia. Have you tried - Goggle, just put in" Easy russian recipes," many will show up. Good Luck, you and your BF are doing a great thing.
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:09 PM   #7
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In my experience, kids love risottos. They're easy to eat, nourishing, relatively cheap and you can often get kids to eat vegetables that they otherwise wouldn't try. Spinach risotto is a hit with my nine-year-old nephew, who spurns anything green on his plate! Kids might find risottos a bit tedious to cook, though. You'd have to try it and see.

Sausage and saffron risotto is another good one (break up quality sausages or use good sausage meat or pork mince). Sweat an onion, add the sausage and fry for a few minutes, add the rice to coat with the fat and then continue as per usual for a risotto. For the saffron, you can either just add threads towards the end or soak them in water while you're cooking and then add the threads and the liquid towards the end. I'd season towards the end if you've used sausage meat - it can sometimes be quite salty and peppery.

Use whatever hard, strong-flavoured cheese you can get hold of if Parmesan is impossible to find or too expensive. Ideally, you'd use a proper risotto rice, but I often use round-grain Spanish rice (arroz bomba) if that's all I have and my purse won't run to a bag of the real thing. Proper Italian rice costs around 5 euros a kilo here, arroz bomba 37 cents. So long as it's a starchy rice, you'll be OK.

Apologies to all the proper chefs and Italians here. I once read an interview with a Polish woman long before Poland joined the EU. Her advice applies to me here in Spain, where lots of things are difficult to get hold of or ridiculously expensive. The upshot of her views was: if you haven't got something but it's on your list of ingredients, cook without it if you must, substitute if you can.
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:05 PM   #8
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My kids have always hated soups, stews, and anything with broth. It is as they feel like they are "fishing" for their food. Children like food that can be consumed quickly and without being "messy".
When I make a soup or stew, we either use a slotted spoon to dish it into a bowl or just strain. I cut the stew meat & veggies in large pieces. With the soup, I cut everything in equal sizes and use a little liquid as needed. With bean based soups, I cook the beans separately and add them fully cooked.
Children are not the biggest fans of bread but they like toasted garlic bread. Making a tomato base dip is not too difficult. Just quarter fresh tomatoes and add enough water to cover. The skins will float to the top and can be skimmed off. (or you can learn to dip in boiling water and peel). Add some dried basil & oregano...etc and enough oil to give it some body. You can also melt some cheese over the toasted bread.
Kids like shrimp. Adding shrimp to fried rice is very good. Children do not like bland foods but they do like baked potatoes fully loaded with toppings.
They like to eat stroganoff. Kids are not too big on salads but they might try a wedge of lettuce on the side. Anything green is voodoo but served in small portions as a garnish and they will try it.
Making flat pasta is easy and can be used immediately. It is only dried for storage. Pizza is also very economical to make and the dough can be yeast based or biscuit quick. Topped with just about anything imaginable.
Breakfast for dinner is always a favorite. Scramble eggs with a side of quick bread (date, cinnamon ...etc) and fruit.
A combination of healthy snacks makes a fun meal too.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." --- Thomas Edison
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Old 03-09-2007, 03:22 PM   #9
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Cooking With Kids From Scratch is the name of the cookbook authored by the witch in the Hansel & Gretel story.
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Old 03-10-2007, 06:28 PM   #10
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Just a couple of questions to help narrow down the suggestions:

1) What foods does he like?

2) What foods do you have available that are within your budget? Canned tuna, ground beef, canned Pork-and-Beans, boxed macaroni and cheese, dried pasta, canned peas, rice, cheese, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc.?

One thing that you are definately doing right is getting him involved in preparing the meal ... kids will sometimes eat things that they helped perpare that they would not otherwise even consider eating.

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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