I love cooking.
It all started when I was a little girl, with me watching my mum cook all our meals from scratch.
My first memory of getting involved (and my mum was great at that, she always had the patience and the enthusiasm to have both my brother and myself “help” her out) was making dough balls on a winter’s day in my mum’s cosy, steamed up kitchen.
My love affair with food grew as the years flew by and I got to travel and see the world.
There is nothing I love more than a hot fondue after a day out and about in the snow, when in Switzerland. Or a fresh salad, full of earthly goodness and some Feta cheese, as a bonus, when dining out in Greece!
I had hoped, once I had children, that they will inherit my love for travelling and adventure.
My wish came true!
Emma is becoming a passionate and astute traveller who can charm the socks off a Turkish palace guard for a smile(and a picture!), who would excitedly exclaim “I want bougatsa!”, as soon as we land in Greece and who can withstand radical change of travelling plans better than any grown-up I know, and see the positives in it too!
But one thing I wish we could do better in is trying new things when it comes to food! There are always “safe” things we rely on when travelling (like chicken and pasta and loads of bread!) but I would love to see Emma tucking into a bowl of whatever is put in front of her, wherever we are in the world!
So, when this week, Riverford Organic Farms approached me about their latest(and very exciting!) #CookTogether campaign, I knew this could be our breakthrough to a new world of exciting tastes and culinary experiences!
I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and told a very keen-to-cook-together-with-mummy Emma that we were going to make a Romanian recipe I used to love as a child!
Here is how we made the whole experience safe and fun for both of us:
1. Although you won’t see it in our pictures, as I forgot to photograph it, we used an IKEA children’s stool for Emma to reach the worktop.
The stools are sturdy, safe and make working in the kitchen with small children a pleasurable as well as very safe experience, as no-one is balancing on high chairs in close proximity of knives and hot stoves! As you can see, perfect height for Emma to work safely!
2. Before we started cooking, we reinforced hygiene rules Emma knows too well from school and from watching “I Can Cook” on CBeebies. We washed hands with plenty of soap and dried them thoroughly. Not worth risking a beautiful, passing down of life skills experience becoming a germ-swapping disaster, especially when cooking in hot climates like we did yesterday!
3. Planning is key, when it comes to cooking with small, enthusiastic children!
The recipe I chose to make with Emma, Romanian stuffed peppers, allowed her plenty of independent actions, which led to a very enjoyable first cooking experience and built her confidence immensely.
Here are some pictures showing Emma working like a pro :-):
– using the blender for the first time ever, to mince carrot and onion for the stuffing:
Enjoy the experience, even in the smallest of details, like allowing the children the last touches to “their” dish.
Emma insisted on creating a pattern with her peppers and although it would have saved me time, saying no and arranging them myself, quickly and randomly, I understood that allowing her to finish was communicating respect and passing her full ownership of the dish!
Oh, before I forget, here are Emma’s peppers, ready to be devoured!
Riverford has this great incentive for all of us wanting to get involved and will pick the best tips for cooking together with our children in a competition draw that could get you a self-catering family holiday in south Devon with the lovely Coast & Country Cottages, lunch or dinner for the whole family at the Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant on our farm, plus a Riverford welcome box and recipe boxes to enjoy during your stay!
Don’t be shy, just share your tips on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook under the hashtag #cooktogether and tagging @riverford.
Good luck and happy cooking times, building memories with your little ones!