My (almost!) three-year-old daughter, Alba really loves doing kitchen projects with me. We do a baking or cooking project a couple times a week and we usually use it as an opportunity to learn something else – like the time we made Fairy Tea Cookies using edible flowers. This time it was all about pretending to be squirrels and storing food for the winter.
Every time I am in the kitchen, she comes in and says: “Mommy, I want to help you”, and more and more I find that there is always something for her to do. She is a total natural at cracking eggs and one of her favorite cooking activities is mixing.
In my last post I discussed some “best practices” for bartering and how I turned diapers into blackberries and maple syrup. So I wanted to follow up that post with one of the things we did with the blackberries and syrup – making homemade jam!
Since I was cooking with a toddler, I made sure there would be several steps she could easily do, making it a good experience for both of us. With a little research you can find some good recipes that make cooking with your toddler fun for both of you.
Here are some Tips for Having a Successful Cooking Project with Your Toddler:
1) Short and Sweet – using a short and with only a few ingredients is a good place to start – toddlers don’t have huge attention spans. Baking recipes are great because there is a lot they can do with their hands.
2) Easy Peasy – toddlers are easily frustrated, so make sure the recipe you choose has lots of easy steps where they can participate.
3) Setting the Stage – measure as much as you can before hand and pour the measured ingredients into containers that are easy for your child to handle and pour- and ones that are big enough to keep mess to a minimum (toddlers can be very exuberant about mixing and stirring).
4) Dress For Success – My daughter has her own apron, so when we are going to do a project together, I always put her apron on (I have one too!) and that gets her excited and lets her know she is going to help.
5) Get Ready to Play! – As I mentioned my daughter loves mixing, so I make sure that each recipe we make has a mixing component, and I let her mix as long as she wants to with her favorite wooden spoon. Having props for the kids, like their own apron, or a favorite spoon for mixing makes them feel special and really helps to get them engaged. It’s like playing dress up and using a favorite toy all at once.
For our jam, we used a wonderful chia jam recipe from The Kitchn , one of my favorite sources for simple recipes. This recipe is simple and delicious and you could use any fruit of your choice. We used our delicious maple syrup instead of honey.
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 medium nectarine or peach, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, from half a lemon
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the blackberries, cubed nectarine, and lemon juice. As the fruit heats up and the juices bubble and boil, smash the fruit using the back of a fork until they break down. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.
- Sweeten the mashed fruit with 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, to your liking. Add the chia seeds and stir once. Remove from the heat and let the jam set for about 5 minutes to thicken. Cool and transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
- This jam will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
So go ahead and have fun with your kids in the kitchen!
UP THE YUM: You can use any fruits you like or flavor it anyway you like. Because the chia seeds “set” the jam, there is no chemistry involved, making this “fool proof”.
FEED YOUR CHAKRAS: Root, 1st – both the color of the jam plus the fact that this is a preserved food recipe and therefore linked to basic survival, makes this recipe a root chakra recipe.