Baking with Your Kids: Honoring and Starting Family Traditions

Baking with Your Kids: Honoring and Starting Family Traditions | Sweet Phenomena

Baking with your kids is one of those things that they’ll remember for the rest of their life.

Trips to fairs, new gaming systems, vacations, sure they’ll remember bits of pieces of this stuff, but being in the kitchen? You can’t beat those memories.

We’ve talked about all sorts of things to do with your kids in the kitchen the past few days, but today is devoted to the most important: remembering to honor and start family traditions.

Honoring Family Traditions

This is such an important thing to do with your kids.

No matter how small the tradition may seem, it’s important to teach your children to honor family traditions in the kitchen.

Sunday dinners, fish on Fridays, seasonal baking, all of it is important.

But you don’t have to stop at just telling them what the traditions are and being in the kitchen with them.

Make it uber-fun by taking pictures, making scrapbooks, adding a new twist on the tradition, and more.

Compiling a cookbook, complete with pictures of you and your kids making the recipes is my favorite idea.

How many times do you want to make a family recipe but it’s not documented anywhere, so you have to try until you nail it.

Document these recipes with your kids, share the stories behind them, and have a keepsake to pass down from generation to generation.

Start New Family Traditions

I’m all for keeping great traditions alive, but it’s also fun to start new ones.

How awesome would it be for your kids to have something that they helped create to pass down to their kids?

You can create new recipes, new techniques, special baking times, anything you want.

The important thing to remember is that traditions don’t have to be something grand, they just have to be something important to you.  Something that tells a story.

What traditions do you and your kids celebrate?

Baking with Your Kids: Math in the Kitchen

Baking with Your Kids: Math in the Kitchen | Sweet Phenomena

Teaching math in the kitchen is one of the most obvious things to do with your kids, which is why I didn’t start with it.  But today, we’re talking about exciting and fun ways to incorporate math in your baking escapades!

Teaching Math in the Kitchen

  • Measuring - Have your kids help you measure out ingredients.  Depending on their age, you can teach them the various cup sizes, conversions, and addition of fractions.  The latter is my favorite.  It really helps make it real for them.
  • Stirring - Need to teach counting? Tell your child they need to stir something for 50 strokes {or whatever other number you’d like to use}, and they really feel purposeful in their stirring!
  • Ingredients - Count the number of ingredients in a recipe.  Count the number of chocolate chips in your cookie dough.  Count the number of eggs.  You get the picture.
  • Temperature - Use oven temperature {or candy temperature if doing candy} to teach about Celsius and Fahrenheit, conversions, and more.

Books for Teaching Math in the Kitchen

Our Favorite Way to do Math in the Kitchen

Menu math!  I introduced this a couple of years ago and Babydoll LOVED it.

There are worksheets and books you can buy, and I believe that’s how we started, but you can easily create your own.  Here’s a Google image search to get you going.

Basically, you get to play restaurant.  And your kid gets to be the waiter/owner/everything.

You get the menu, place your order, and they get to work preparing your food and your bill.

Have play food and kitchen equipment?  That makes it even more epic.

Even More Tips

I was fortunate to be able to contribute to the Teachable Moments chapter of The Little Chefs Project with Chef Boyardee.  Be sure to check it out for TONS of great ideas on teaching your kids in the kitchen!

Baking with Your Kids: Tips for Teaching Food Presentation

Baking with Your Kids: Tips for Teaching Food Presentation | @SweetPhenomena

Welcome to Week Two of Baking with Your Kids!  My collection of posts is part of the Homeschool Hopscotch hosted by iHomeschool Network.

Today’s post is all about food presentation!

I wanted to include this because I think it’s something worth teaching your kids.  Of course this isn’t something that will need to be done all the time, but knowing how to present a dish that is appealing to all the senses is a great skill!

It’s also something that isn’t necessarily easy.  I remember when I first worked in a professional kitchen.  I saw the awesome plating going on, and when I tried emulate with my stuff {I made pastries and cakes}, I got so frustrated.

So here are a few tips you can use to teach your child the art of food presentation!

Teaching the Art of Food Presentation

  • Realize there is no right way.  I’m a perfectionist, so this is a hard one for me.  Really, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  If your child feels very proud about what they’ve done, then it’s a great presentation.
  • Teach the “why” behind it.  Of course there’s the obvious reason:  we like to eat pretty food.  But presenting a dish that has been beautifully arranged shows that you gave some thought to what you were giving that person.  It’s a way to show your love and appreciation for another person.
  • Think about color and size.  This is one of the simplest ways to learn how to plate better food.  Mix colors side-by-side, play around with different portion sizes, experiment until you’ve gotten the hang of it.
  • Baked goods are easier.  I have no real, solid, fact-based information to back me up, but I’ve found this to be the case.  There’s just something about baked goods that makes them so darn easy to make pretty.  A single cupcake with a pillow of icing on top is gorgeous.  A slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream and some caramel sauce drizzled on top is pretty.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  This is a fun one because, well, in order to practice, you need food.  And then who gets to eat it?  Yes, you and your kids.  Or, if there’s just too much, you can share it with others.  They’ll *heart* you for that.
  • Throw a party to celebrate.  When you feel that you guys have really nailed your food presentation, throw a party!  It doesn’t have to be anything major, just a little celebration with a few pretty display pieces to showcase what you’ve learned.

A Recipe to Help You Practice

Since I think baked goods are the easiest to practice on, I’m giving you guys my award-winning lemon cupcake recipe!

Just like the white cake, this recipe has been a favorite of many brides and has gotten me a few ribbons at county and state fairs.

To frost these, use my standard buttercream frosting, but add lots and lots and lots of lemon zest to it.  Well, lots and lots and lots if you love tart lemon taste.

If you don’t, just add lots.

Pin It to Win It

Want to score some great books for your kids?

To help celebrate the Homeschool Hopscotch Prufrock Press and iHomeschool Network are holding a Pin It to Win It contest!

Be sure to stop by and enter!

Baking with Your Kids: Using Food as Gifts

Baking with Your Kids: Using Food as Gifts {with Sugar Cookie & Icing Recipe} | @SweetPhenomena

People love it when you bake for them.

Food as a gift is one of my favorite personalized gift to give.  People get all warm and fuzzy when they know you’ve been thinking about them.

I also know that teaching your kids to think of others is important.

So why not score some sweet bonding time in the kitchen while also doing something for someone else?

Total win.

Tips for Gifting with Food

  • Ask your child for ideas.  Kids love giving gifts to people.  They might come up with ideas that are more creative than “give them some cookies.”
  • Always consider food allergies.  More and more, food allergies are a concern for many people.  If at all possible, try to find out if anyone in the household has a food allergy so you can plan accordingly.  If you’re unsure, add a note to the gift noting any potential allergens.
  • Test your recipe first.  I’ve never *ahem* had this problem, but you should always test your recipe prior to using it as a gift.  There’s nothing worse than a} getting down to the wire because something didn’t work out or b} giving the recipient something totally gag-worthy.
  • Bake with love.  I don’t know about you, but I think stuff tastes better when I’ve really focused on how much I love and appreciate the person I’m baking for.  Plus, it makes it way more fun!
  • Give some thought to your presentation.  Of course it’s the thought that counts, but presentation also counts for something.  You don’t have to get fancy or expensive, but give a little bit of focus to packaging your baked goods so they convey how much you appreciate the recipient!  Here is a great Pinterest board for ideas.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  It is so easy to decide to bake 57 different things because it’s fun.  Again, I don’t speak from experience or anything, but the cost and time involved with that many recipes can quickly add up…
  • Involve your child as much as possible.  It’s very easy to become consumed with doing things your way: you’re quicker, you’re more efficient, you’re less messy.  Kids have that pure innocence and joy that makes giving gifts even more special, though, so don’t dampen that.

Sugar Cookies & Cookie Icing

This is a recipe Babydoll and I use every single year.  They cookies and the icing are delicious, and it’s easy to work with.

The icing can be used to decorate the cookies, or it can be thinned down to flood them instead.

This cookie recipe does not need to be refrigerated before rolling out and using.


Baking with Your Kids: Let Them Create Their Own Recipes

Baking with Your Kids: Let Them Create Their Own Recipes | @SweetPhenomena

I’d like to first apologize for the tardiness of this post.  Sweet Phenomena was suffering from a little SNAFU today…

This is probably one of my favorite things to let Babydoll do in the kitchen.

She enjoys being able to go in there and just make something unique, and usually, I enjoy eating it.

This is something great to do together, but this is also an area where I like to give a gentle nudge, and then step back.  It’s more fun to watch those cogs working in her head than to be in there with my years of experience.

It can be messy though.  And sometimes you might need to rein them in a bit.

So how do you keep things manageable without stifling creativity?

Discuss Guidelines & Safety Beforehand

This isn’t a discussion you’ll need to have every single time they go into the kitchen.

But, you should do it right, the first time, so that everyone is clear on what is and isn’t OK, what is expected, etc.

  • Teach them about kitchen safety.  Even if they’re “too old” to sit and listen to this discussion, have it anyway.  If they’re past the age of wondering whether or not a knife can hurt you, focus on things such as the proper way to put out a grease fire and how to operate the fire extinguisher.
  • Discuss off-limits ingredients, techniques, and supplies.  You probably don’t want your minor in the kitchen messing around with the liquor, or doing anything inside that involves an open flame.  Discuss what they should not touch or do under any circumstances so there’s no question later.
  • Discuss what isn’t off limits.  Don’t be a downer.  Sure, they need to be told what they can’t do, but offer some encouragement too!  Let them know they can use “x,” “y,” and “z.”  Maybe they hadn’t thought of using that!
  • Set clear expectations for the cleanliness of your kitchen when they’re done.  If you expect to get the kitchen back completely cleaned up, tell them.  Don’t assume that they’ll think to put everything away and clean up after themselves.

Get Them Their Own Supplies

Kids love having their “own” stuff.  That’s why places sell little kitchens, pots and pans, cars, etc.

Not only can having their own supplies keep your kids out of your prized pans and utensils, but it can also give them a sense of importance and purpose.  Let’s face it, we all like having our own stuff and we generally appreciate it and take care of it more when it’s our own.

Don’t just stop at pots and pans though.  Get them their own cookbooks {great for inspiration}, recipe cards, aprons, oven mitts, kitchen timers, utensils, etc.

Eat What They Make

Unless it’s going to physically make you severely ill or kill you, suck it up and eat what they’ve made.

Sometimes they might present you with something that is just a little out there, but nothing is worse than seeing that defeated look on their face when you refuse to eat what they’ve lovingly prepared for you.

Just do it folks, it won’t kill you.  Hopefully.

A Recipe from Babydoll

Babydoll decided to go in the kitchen one day to make me chocolate truffles.  She knows how much I love chocolate, and she wanted to make something super-chocolaty.

Below you’ll find her recipe for Nutella truffles {it’s so easy!}.