Organise your freezer for back to school meals

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Find out how to organise your freezer to make back to school meals a breeze.

Is your freezer packed full of stuff? Mine was … a lot of it was just frosted up with ice.

Do you even know what is in your freezer? … I didn’t! But I did discover at least 10 meals ready and perfect for school evenings.

Read my account of how I plan to stay on top of organising my freezer from now on. Find out how I’ll be using my freezer to help with a monthly meal planning session.

As a teacher and mum, the build up of first day nerves is doubled. I dread the idea of cooking evening meals when exhausted after a full day at school.

My first idea was to do some batch cooking now whilst I have time and freeze portions for school day evenings.

There was problem with this is though…
I could barely open/ close my freezer drawers because they are so full!

What the heck did I actually have in there?

In my small three drawer freezer I had no less than 10 pre-cooked meals I’d cooked and saved previously. A bonus!

That is at least 10 evenings that I won’t have to cook after a heavy day at work.

I also had numerous packs of frozen fruit that I’ve got out of the habit of using. Oh, and an awful lot of ice clogging everything up.

Are you ready to organise your freezer?

First job: Defrost and clean out!

In the freezer drawers I found the usual frozen peas, sweetcorn and a HUGE amount of ice. I defrosted by turning off my freezer and using a silicone spatula to scrape away excess ice. I have heard of some people using a hairdryer to speed up the defrost.

Second job: Freezer audit

I am a creative problem solver. I ended up designing this freezer audit sheet to pin to the front of my freezer. Now I will know exactly what I have in there.

Third job: Labels

Sharpies are good for writing straight onto the top of each tub. Alternatively I’ve used stickers, or made my own with scraps of paper and sellotape for labelling each tub of pre-cooked meals.
My previous slovenly habit of chucking things into the freezer, meant that I had to guess at what some of my existing meals were! This will not happen in future now that I have a system in place.

Step four: Maintain organised status

I’ve allowed space on the freezer audit for listing the ready meals that I already have. I’ve made notes beside individual ingredients of potential meals that can be easily made using those things already in my freezer – eg- for every quorn and fish item in there I’ve made suggestions of meals to make.
This should take the thinking part out of my cooking – that is the part I find hardest when exhausted at the end of a day at work.

Two suggestions for managing and maintenance of the freezer audit.

1: Laminate the printable sheet and keep it on the front of the freezer.
Use a wipeable marker and cross out or wipe things off as you use them.

2: Commit to a monthly freezer audit and print out a new sheet per month – I kind of like this idea as meal planning could be done a month at a time and the job of auditing / defrosting will become so much quicker and less arduous the more often it is done.

If you’d like to have a go at this, feel free to make use of my Printout which can be downloaded here.

Check out this lovely recipe for Mediterranean baked fish. It’s and excellent one for batch cooking and freezing. Just make up the veg and stock before popping the frozen fish into portioned containers in the freezer.

mediterranean fish baked recipe diabetes cook simple meal plan plan ahead nutritious fish cod haddock fillet olives capers peppers tomatoes

If you like this recipe, check out my recipes pages for loads more.

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Go ahead now, organise your freezer and make family meal prep on long school days a breeze!

Help! My teenager is a vegan

vegan cooking, ingredients, from scratch, recipe,

Recently I had the pleasure of cooking with a teenager who had recently decided to eat a vegan diet. 

Worrying

When teenagers make such decisions it can cause us (parent’s, carers and sometimes even teachers) a bit of worry. 

We worry about their nutrition… How will they get enough or the right mix of proteins, iron, vitamin B12?
Will it cost loads more to buy substitutes?
Am I going to have to cook several different dishes.

Information


I spent some time putting together some reading materials for this young lady which I know she will dip into when she’s alone later. It covers matters such as protein complementation, plant sources of iron and how-to get B12 on a plant based diet. I will share some of the nutritional information with you below.

We chatted informally while we cooked and I managed to drop in some useful nuggets of info.


We looked through s few cookbooks, some vegan, some not and discussed how we might cook certain dishes. 

Why

Many teenagers experiment with their ethical beliefs and dietary preferences. It’s a natural way of finding out who they are. Our job is to support them as best we can.

I’m not a dietitian, but I do have an understanding of nutrition. It was not hard at all to find some reading materials that would suit her. 

Turn it around

Showing an interest in food, ethics and diet in this way is a great way to get our young people into cooking and to start them taking an active role in their own nutrition. 

My advice…

Don’t fight it…. Go with it, support them on their journey!

Romanesco gnocchi vegan dairy free recipe sundried tomato cook from scratch


Pictured is the dish we made. It’s Romamesco sauce with pasta. Adapted from Joe Wicks recipe for Romamesco Gnocchi. Romanesco sauce if often made using peppers, for my recipe I have just used sundreied tomatoes from a jar. We added yeast flakes (excellent sauce of B12) instead of parmesan.

Romanesco gnocchi tasty alternative adapted vegan dairy free recipe sheet free

You can use my adapted recipe here if you’d like to try it. My (non-vegan) children love this sauce either on Gnocchi or stirred through noodles and it freezes really well in an ice cube tray for future use.

For other recipes – vegan and non vegan, check out my recipes page here

Some nutritional information to help

What about protein?

One of the important things to remember when following a vegan diet is that plant sources of protein do not contain a complete set of the Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) needed by the body.

Most plant based proteins are of Low biological value (LBV) proteins – an incomplete set of the EAAs.

A vegan diet can provide all of the essential amino acids necessary for good health by combining a variety of sources of protein across the meals in a day. This is called protein complementation.

Protein complementation

This means that the amino acids in one LBV source of protein may work together with the amino acids in another source of LBV protein to form a complete set.

Some examples are below: Beans on toast, rice and bean salad, lentil soup with toast, nut butter sandwich, cereal with almond milk. There are many more.

Protein complementation does not have to make use of food that is eaten in the same meal, but could be spread across a day or so for example.

There are some exceptions which do contain the full set  of amino acids and are known as high biological protein sources. These are quinoa and soya. Soya comes in many forms to be used in cooking such as tofu, soya beans, soya milk, tvp (textured vegetable protein). 

B12

The other nutrient which you should be mindful of is vitamin B12. 

B12 is not found in plant food sources. For a vegan, this could be found in fortified foods such as cereals which state that they are fortified with vitamin B12. Or they could consider taking a supplement. 
There is a good product called Energevita yeast flakes which contain B12 which can be sprinkled on top of foods such as salads or pasta dishes instead of cheese.

Marmite is also a good source of B12 a spoonful of which can be used in all sorts of cooking to add flavour and nutrition. I have even been know to drink a spoonful in a cup of boiling water!

Iron and Vitamin C

Vegans and vegetarians should also ensure that they eat a variety of foods rich in iron and combine them with a good rich in vitamin c.

Vitamin c helps the body to absorb iron which is more difficult to absorb when taken in plant based sources than animal based sources. 

Try not to worry

I hope this has helped you not to worry. Try to see this as a new adventure, an education and a way of expanding yours and their culinary repertoire. Vegan cooking does not have to be expensive, or include lots of unknown fussy, hard to find ingredients.

Teach your child how to chop an onion

teach teacher chop an onion how to dice claw bridge safety knife hold grip children cook cookery

How to chop an onion for beginners

Chopping an onion is one of those things that everyone has their own way of doing it.

If you have your own established way of chopping an onion, please carry on. My method below is not the only way to chop an onion, however it is an easy way to teach a child to do so.

Before you begin – please do read my previous blog on teaching your child to use a knife safely and effectively. You can find the link here

When doing this with very young children or those with stiffness of joints or difficulty gripping I recommend the use of a vegetable holder. It looks like an extended comb with a handle. 

Bridge hold

bridge hold claw grip onion teach teacher cookery hold safely safety knife lesson cookery kids

For others I start by teaching them two safe grips for the vegetable: Bridge hold – useful for cutting a larger/round vegetable and keeping it stable. Lay the veg flat side down (if possible) and make an arch over the food with your thumb on one side, fingers on the other. The knife goes under the bridge.

Claw grip

chop claw grip onion teach teacher dice safety vegetable knife chopping board fingers hand children cook cookery lesson

Claw grip – useful for fine dicing and slicing and often useful for long thin items such as carrots/celery.

Make your hand into a claw and grip the item like this using your finger nails as buffers for any possible slipping with the knife. 

To start off with…

Talk your child through the anatomy of the onion. Let them hold it and describe the textures, and shape. Identify the root (the hairy bit) and the shoot (the pointy bit). This is a good chance to teach children where their food comes from. Onions do no grow on trees, they are not made in factories, they grow in the ground.

You could also talk about the papery skin and it’s colour. This could lead into a discussion about different types of onion – how many members of the onion family can your child name?

This is a perfect lead into a bit of gardening – if you so wish. Or maybe a tip to the garden centre to identify other members of the onion family.

A note on how to hold the knife…

One more tip … Children often hold a knife or spoon by the very end of the handle. This gives them weaker/more wobbly control. R

emind them to hold the knife firmly, with the hand along most of the knife handle and as close to the blade as possible.

My safety knife and vegetable holder

* I totally recommend my safety knife, but can’t sell them to you as they are out of production.

Anyone know of someone who can help me with this?

I’d love to get them made, they are so useful…. I pretty much use mine all the time at home!

a word about creativity

creativity creative blooms taxonomy learner creative creativity make sew create draw paint build children kids child
Read on for some of my musings on CREATIVITY and it’s role in my classes and clubs…

Did you know that creativity is considered to be the highest of the learning skills on Blooms Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy is a classification system used in education to identify the different thinking and learning skills that may be drawn upon in a task / lesson / activity.

Here’s my own version of Bloom’s taxonomy – I’ve added in  some of the ways how we practice each learner skill in my cookery and craft sessions.

blooms taxonomy bloom's Bloom's creativity evaluation analyse create cook craft art children

Bloom’s taxonomy is organised on a hierarchical system; those at the bottom of the triangle are lower level tasks than those at the top. Sometimes it is necessary to be able to achieve those at the bottom before being able to attempt those at the top.

For example, in order to create something new, a child must solve problems. They will experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t. They will analyse other similar products to decide what works and what does not and they will apply both learned knowledge and new understanding to help make the new thing.

In being creative, we will learn by our mistakes. Mistake are an integral part of being creative.

To be creative, a child must not feel scared of failure, they must be up for a challenge and feel relaxed enough to be able to make mistakes and learn from them without fear of reprimand or feeling stupid.

So, being creative, although fun, and one of the most rewarding things one can be/do, is not an easy thing to achieve. It’s fun, but it’s also a journey. It’s also an elusive state of being that can only happen properly when the conditions are just right.

The environment must be accommodating, inspiring, relaxed, not too tidy (in my opinion – tidiness can kill creativity).

A starting point is useful – some raw materials, some imagery, a problem to be solved…

A creative person needs to be relaxed…. thoughts cannot flow when there is other stuff to worry about, or time is limited. Too many restrictions can stop the creative flow too.

Often the fun is in the process not the outcome.

I try to encourage creativity in my classes.

creativity

I like to think that my holiday clubs are the perfect opportunity to foster creativity.

We have long enough together that we do not need to rush from task to task.

Children can spend longer on tasks that capture their imagination. Although I might start with a suggestion of a possible outcome and certain materials will be provided, I allow children to follow the path that their creative journey takes them.

An example of this was over the summer, at our summer club when a wooden box (intended in my planning to become a mosaic decorated keepsake box) became a fabric embellished handbag.

Here is the handbag in progress….. 

creativity creative blooms taxonomy learner creative creativity make sew create draw paint build children kids child

…Or in cookery lessons when weird and wonderful flavour and ingredient combinations are discovered to be amazing….or not!

One of my greatest joys is being privy to children’s creativity and watching it unfurl before me. I am always so taken by surprise at what the children make, and where their journey takes them. I feel honoured to be part of their journey.

I’m looking forward to see what happens at the Spring Cookery and craft club… I promise I’ll show you some pictures if you don’t manage to sign up to this one.

If you’d like to read more about my classes, or holiday clubs – read on here

Giveaway

competition win healthy children fussy eater safety knife personalised plate win winner cookery eating family food parents children kids

competition win healthy children fussy eater safety knife personalised plate win winner cookery eating family food parents children kids

It’s giveaway time!

I’ve joined up with Jane from Created4U to giveaway the following to one lucky person:

  • Child safety knife
  • Vegetable holder (to keep little hands safe)
  • A hand painted plate personalised with your child’s own drawing

Read on to find out more about these fab products and find out how to enter!

Personalised plate – featuring your child’s drawing £25

Jane from Created4u will giveaway a hand painted plate personalised with your child’s drawing. Customers have told Jane in the past that their fussy eaters have been happy to try new foods when eating from a plate they have designed themselves. Could this work for you? Either way, this giveaway will bring pleasure to any child and is a lovely way to keep your child’s art work forever.

About the plate…

Jane will copy your child’s art work onto a 21cm diameter ceramic plate. The copied drawing and writing of your child’s name will then be hand painted onto the plate using underglaze paints best matched to the colours your child uses. The plate will be dipped in a clear glaze after drying for 24 hours. After another 24 hours the plate will be ready to fired in our kiln, the firing process takes another 24 hours ( 8/9 hours to fire up to 1010 degrees Celsius & 16 hours to cool down). We only fire our kiln with a full load in it to be as economical and eco-friendly as possible with our use of electric. Therefore the finished plate it can take 7-14 days to produce for you. Will then post the plate out to you and let you know when the plate is on its way too you.

personalised plate child drawing win competition fussy eater child family food eating mealtime win winner

Using your plate … Your child will be able to eat off this plate as normal and it can be washed by hand.  If you use a dishwasher please ensure you place it in the dishwasher without any other item touching it as this can cause chipping on the rims otherwise. Please do not put the plate in a microwave oven or a very hot oven as this can cause the plate to crack and break through high thermal shock. The plates are made from earthenware clay and this does not like sudden high intense heat. The plate can be warmed in an oven if desired but please put the plate into a cold oven and allow it to warm up as the oven does to a low heat.

Safety knife £6

Did you know that children who help to prepare food are more likely to taste what they cook. The parents of children who attend my cookery classes report back that their child is much more relaxed around food. They start to taste new foods that they have previously rejected. This knife and veg holder make food preparation safe and easy for children as they learn to handle a knife properly and safely. I’ll giveaway one knife and one vegetable holder to the lucky winner from our draw.

About the knife…

This fabulous knife allows children a feeling of independence and empowerment as they build their food preparation and knife skills safely.

The knife is easy to use in much the same way you would use a sharp knife. You do not need to use a sawing motion to cut through fruit and veg. It can be used on any fruit and veg even harder ones such as onions, small potatoes and apples.

The knife is so easy and efficient to use that I use it myself for most food preparation tasks at home

learn safe knife skills children friendly knife kids girls boys children young cooking preparation food onion vegetables safe learn quality buy

Vegetable holder £6

This looks like an extended comb. It’s a fab little tool which children find helpful to hold fruit and vegetables in place while they cut, keeping their fingers safely out of the way.

The extended prongs are inserted into the fruit or veg and the child holds the handle above to secure the fruit or veg into place and stop slipping. It allows for finer slicing, dicing and chopping as the knife can slide between the prongs. Excellent for teaching children to cut onions, apple, potatoes etc

learn safe knife skills children friendly knife kids girls boys children young cooking preparation food onion vegetables safe learn quality buy

Suitable for use by children aged 6 and upwards. (adults like using them too!)

Blunt slightly serrated stainless steel blade

Chunky blue sparkly plastic handle

Dishwasher safe

Would you like to enter to win?

Last entry for the giveaway will be on 7th February at Midnight. We will announce the lucky winner on 8th February.

All you need to to enter is click below.

cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars

Good luck!

When your child wants to help in the kitchen…

help helping kitchen washing up children toddler preschooler cooking learn to cook mum dad family child children task age appropriate
Mummy … can I help?

Sometimes help in the kitchen from your child feels like the last thing you want or need. Pictures of the mess, and images of dinner just not getting cooked. Or perhaps dinner burning whilst you assist your young children may float through your already busy mind. Meanwhile you’re desperately searching for an excuse for your child not to ‘help’, or for something easy/ non messy / non dangerous that they could do instead.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are so many wonderful benefits that it’s a shame to pass up this opportunity.

 

  • Your child will gain valuable life skills
  • You’ll have a team of helpers for preparing meals
  • You’ll get to spend time together whilst getting a chore done.
My kitchen helper checklist

I’ve put together a guide to age appropriate jobs that children can help with in the kitchen without causing you too much stress or angst at a busy time of day.

It’s free, downloadable and printable – a perfect addition to your fridge door, or maybe inside the larder cupboard door. You can quickly refer to to it and assign a task. 

 

Use it like a checklist

You could also use it a bit like a checklist and cross off tasks that your child can now manage independently. The age guide is really just a suggestion as all children are completely different and will manage things at different ages, however it is helpful to give you a starting point.

cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars <<< Download here

The age bit is just a guide – we can all enjoy the toddler ones!

Don’t think that just because your child is now a tweenager they won’t enjoy playing with an off-cut of pastry – they will LOVE it. I’ve listed that job under toddlers and pre-schoolers because it is something they can do unassisted, but it is also something that everyone can enjoy doing.

It’s never too early to get your child involved with cooking.

In my opinion it is an essential part in having a healthy relationship with food for life.

Feel free to enjoy using the guide however it fits your family best.

As always I’d absolutely LOVE to see and hear from you how your family is getting on. I love to receive and (with your permission) share pictures of children cooking at home.

Here’s a pic of my lovely Mary bunny ‘helping’ with the washing up quite a few years ago now. I wish she’d still want to help me like this now!

help helping kitchen washing up children toddler preschooler cooking learn to cook mum dad family child children task age appropriate

How to make your own small piping bag

kids cook learn ramsgate kent lessons teach home baking icing piping bag royal icing gingerbread men fine motor skills children cook recipe
Our favourite biscuits to make (and eat) are gingerbread and for these we fill our homemade piping bag with royal icing. However once you know how to make your own, you can fill the piping bag with melted chocolate, frosting, whatever you fancy. Read on to find out how to make your own piping bag.

So we’ve been making rather a lot of these biscuits lately. My eldest wanted to make them for a school project and event, I made some for the school cake stall at their Christmas concert and I ran a class making them. Unfortunately we ran out of time to ice them and I’d really like to share that part of the process today so that you can have a go at home.

We made a special effort with the icing and I made up a stiff batch of royal icing (egg white and icing sugar) and some homemade piping bags.

kids cook learn ramsgate kent lessons teach home baking icing piping bag royal icing gingerbread men fine motor skills children cook recipe  

I was blown away by the outcomes, they had really improved their technique from last time (probably about a year ago). I loved seeing the concentration on both girls faces, and listening to the unusual silence that accompanied the painstaking decoration process. This was a real feel good moment.

You can watch my “how to” video here

If you’d like my family friendly gingerbread recipe – you can receive it here by signing up for my newsletter

Why you should bake…

Here’s why I think making and decorating gingerbread men with your children is super good for everyone…

Family time
As well as being a sweet treat, gingerbread men must be praised because the process of making and decorating involves spending valuable time together.

Good quality ingredients
The ingredients that go into the biscuits are completely within your control. There are no added nasties to make the biscuits last longer, look better, hold together better, more crisp etc. You can include wholemeal flour, free range eggs etc according to your personal preferences / needs.

Nutritional education (you didn’t think I’d actually leave this out did you?
When you make treats yourself, your children can appreciate for themselves just how much sugar and fat goes into biscuits and later on they will be able to make informed decisions about how many they want to  / should eat.

Numeracy skills
M practiced weighing out the ingredients independently. There are loads of ways you can include numeracy in your baking time with your children, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Literacy skills
Following instructions. There are many technical words in recipes and these can be a challenge to children. So here’s a good opportunity for you to start to demystify the world of baking.

Scientific understanding
In my class we talked about the jobs that different ingredients do and why we were using them in this recipe. E.g. bicarbonate of soda. The more you cook, and talk and ask questions the more they will pick up, sometimes subconsciously.

Improves handwriting (fine motor) skills
Icing the biscuits is an excellent way of practicing fine motor control skills, especially for children who struggle with handwriting. We made our own mini piping bags from greaseproof paper and cut a tiny nozzle. The girls had to concentrate really hard to get the designs they wanted. Their outcomes were so much improved from last year, it was really exciting to see.   Find out how to make the piping bags here

Teach your child to use a knife safely in the kitchen

Bridge hold, knife skills, cooking lessons, primary school food lessons, safety, knife, kids, learn, children, teach, cutting, preparation, vegetables, fruit
“How do you teach them to use knives when cooking?”

This is one of the things I get asked most often. Along with “Do you use a special knife?”

I hope to answer some of your questions here, but look out for more knife articles and guides coming here soon.

Which knife do you use?

When using sharp knives, I demonstrate first, I teach safe knife handling techniques and I teach safe hold of vegetables.

Each child receives 1:1 attention until they are fully competent using a sharp knife, and even then they are never left alone, but watched closely.

If cutting soft fruit or veg, or with very young children, we sometimes just use normal cutlery knives – the children have to saw a bit, but I feel happier with them doing that a little more independently which builds their confidence.

However the sawing motion with cutlery knives has been irking me somewhat lately, it seems a bit unnatural to progress from that onto a very sharp knife that can slip through the veg so easily when they are used to the applying more pressure and a  sawing motion. I kind of wanted a happy medium to bridge the gap. (scroll down to the bottom to find the results of my search)

Parental nerves

I’ve also noticed that (as a parent) when I allowed my children to use sharp knives at home, my anxiety (even though I teach hundreds of children sometimes on a 1:26 basis at school to use knives safely) went through the roof and I felt like I wanted to grab the knife from my child and just stop the whole thing.

Kids do pick up on this – and it makes them nervous… which in turn can make things more dangerous. So really it is best to remain outwardly calm and confident, but so much easier said than done!

young person safe knife child family friendly cookery skills looked after children's home cookery lessons 1:1 food hygiene food safety independent living

Teach your child the basics first! 

It’s far more important to cover the following basics first regardless of which knife you use.

  • Start by showing your child around the knife. Teach them how to identify which is the sharp edge and which is the blunt edge.
  • Establish your household knife ground rules. Where are they stored? Who is allowed to get them out? Do they need to ask first? When are they allowed to use a knife in the kitchen?
  • Teach your child how to pass the knife safely to someone else.
  • Show your child how to carry a knife (if they are walking around with one)
  • Demonstrate the safe way to hold a knife.
    Children naturally start by holding kitchen implements at the very top end furthest away from the action. This gives them far less control and a clumsy motion – and we certainly do not want that when handling knives!
    So encourage them to hold the knife as close to where the handle meets the blade as possible with a firm grip using the whole hand and not just fingers.

 

Teach by showing
  • The best way to teach is by showing / demonstrating.
  • Show your child how to cut by placing the point of the knife on the board first and then levering the knife downwards from there.
  • Demonstrate how to hold the fruit or veg safely. I’ll show the main grips I use in more detail in another blog – coming soon in video format.
  • Encourage them to work slowly and methodically and to keep their eye on the job at all times. No talking whilst chopping!
Make it age / ability appropriate
  • Use soft fruit and veg for little children such as banana, cucumber, mushroom etc
  • Do not use very small fruit and veg (e.g. grapes) for young children or beginners – there is not enough for them to hold onto
  • Don’t worry about the pieces being too big, too small or uneven. It’s the technique, not the end result that is important to begin with.
  • Make sure that little children are working at the appropriate height so that the work surface is about waist height – I often use the kitchen table as it is lower and kneeling on a chair is often a good way to start at the right height.
  • Make it fun! If it’s tedious, or you are striving for perfection, your little one will tire of it and possibly not want to do it again. Celebrate successes and reward them for their achievements.

Here is a video my nephew Sam and I made together to show off his culinary skills.

cookery children fussy eaters food family shopping cooking healthy balanced meal cook bake learn lessons ramsgate kent thanet East Kent

There is so much more I can talk about on this topic, so watch this space for further articles.

If you’d like to make sure you see new articles as they are published, why not join my mailing list here: cookery craft school summer learn children creative cooking cook recipe healthy activities childcare kent ramsgate margate thanet east kent broadstiars

 

About my favourite Child friendly knife

Although it’s not essential to buy and use a child safety knife, the confidence that owning a good one can bring very quickly is wonderful. ]

If things are a little tense for you when your child ‘helps’ in the kitchen, this could bring you a bit of  reprieve whilst still allowing your child to help and teaching them all the good tips, skills and advice above.

The knife that I recommend is my favourite because it cuts anything and everything that you could possibly wish to cut in the kitchen (but not fingers) easily and effortlessly. Yet it is blunt and cannot easily cut your child’s fingers. In fact, it is so easy to use (even for onions!) I use it more often than not now at home… and my mum (who helps at my cookery classes) has asked to buy one too!

child safety knife knives kitchen cooking learn to teach child children kids kid safe safety

 

Here it is.

If you’d like to see this fab knife in action – take a look at this video of me trying it out. You can watch the video by clicking on the photo.

Whilst I am able to use my own stock of these when teaching, I don’t currently have a supplier and therefore unfortunately these knives are no longer for sale. I’m working on an alternative supply for these, so please do sign up to my newsletter for updates if you are interested and would like to know as soon as they become available.

 

Christmas gift and present ideas for kids and teens

Christmas gift ideas kids

This year I faced a dilemma; for the first time in the history of having children, mine don’t know what they want for Christmas!

…. and Christmas gift ideas for my kids are just not coming readily.

Imagine that! Does anyone else have a similar problem?

 

christmas-1711545_640In terms of ‘things’ there isn’t anything they really want or need! So this year I’ve really had to put my Christmas Elf thinking cap on and get a bit resourceful. So I thought I’d share my ideas with you.

So now we’ve established that it’s not necessarily ‘THINGS’ we want this year, I’ve decided to think a bit out of the box.

Some of the things I’ve mentioned below are local to me, but I’m sure if you’re further afield there will be a range of similar options nearer to where you live.

 

 

Experiences:

For me, as a parent, it’s become more and more important to me to be spending time with my kids before they grow up and decide that I’m not cool enough anymore or I’m too old to do stuff with.

So I’ve come up with a lovely list of experiences that can be shared together.

Last year I bought membership to our new local theme park Dreamland and wanted this to be a stocking surprise, so I bought some gorgeous items from their gift shop and packed the membership cards up in a shoe box with the branded paraphernalia.

Here’s a link to Dreamland

 

Other fab tickets and membership ideas include:

Go ape,     Laser quest, paintball,     Zoo membership

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theatre tickets, a day trip to France, a weekend city break and theme park day tickets. 

The positives of this type of gift are that they are something to look forward to once the Christmas glitter has gone, and they can be bonding experiences for families.

Photos can be taken during the experience and a montage created afterwards and framed as a memory.

Materials / tools to enable or encourage a hobby:

I’m all for encouraging my children away from their tablets and the TV. So any glimmer of an interest or hobby and I’m all over it. What better way to encourage this than by investing in their hobby.

I think Christmas is an excellent opportunity to buy really good quality materials and equipment that you wouldn’t normally consider spending out on during the year such as canvases, quality watercolour paints, a camera, football boots, specialist crafting equipment, roller skates, bike and sewing machine.

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Here are some roller skates that I totally recommend as they are size adjustable and an excellent price.

Thinking even further out of the box, why not put together something or somewhere that makes you child’s hobby even easier to access.

A pop up dark room?

A crafting desk or storage facility?

Personal space:

Ooh, how about creating a secret kid’s cave only to be revealed on Christmas morning? A treasure hunt leading your child to the scene of their new hideout?

post-37284_640It could be a shed in the garden that you secretly decorate inside and kit out with kid’s stuff like beanbags, bunting, battery operated lanterns and a do not enter sign on the door.  

Or maybe you could cosy up the basement or cellar (if it’s in usable condition) with beanbags, TV and a mini fridge.  

For younger children, what about an under the stairs hidey hole, or teepee? Children and teens love to feel independent and they love to have something to call their own.  

 

 

Learn a skill:

Here’s a present that can last well beyond Christmas.

Christmas gift ideas kids Why not book your child onto a slightly more unusual course in something they’ve not tried before.

I attended some wonderful bushcraft courses at Jack Raven Bushcraft in Ashford last year –  here. They do organised group courses, family courses and also private bookings ranging from wood craft to cooking, to survival. 

 

Talking of cooking…. I couldn’t write a post without including my own hobby.

Every child needs to learn to cook at some point, some are desperate to get cooking and sometimes parents just can’t face it happening in their own kitchen, or maybe don’t have the time?

I’m offering a six week cookery course on Saturday mornings Christmas wish list gifts children children's kid kids child present gift presents experience unusual lessons cookery baking learn to ramsgate thanet broadstairs westwood cross kent east kent learn healthy balanced gift box cheap value quality teach learn cook cookery food meals utensils equipment kitchenin Ramsgate. A perfect pressie for grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, and parents to consider.   I’ve thought about this quite a lot and whilst I’d love to receive something like this…

…It just wouldn’t feel the same without something to unwrap. So I’ve prepared a gift box. It’s basically a pizza style box with a personalised letter explaining the gift, and inside are some totally funky, tactile and smaller (for small hands) kitchen utensils along with some recipes to get started with. Find out more here… https://makewithkate.co.uk/gift/

Do you think your child would like to receive this gift at Christmas?

 

 

Other courses you could buy into include climbing, horseriding, and cycling, skateboarding, dressmaking.

We have a lovely sewing shop here in Canterbury near to us that offers a wide range of courses, many for beginners and some especially for children.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for the child that thinks they have it all!

Please let me know of anything I’ve missed but could include.

I’m always on the lookout for a present that’s a bit different.

Pear crisp – autumnal baking

pear crisp crumble apple kids cook children cook cookery lesson autumn autumnal tasty delicious easy aromatic wholesome healthy spiced cinnamon oats pears apples brown sugar lemon juice

It’s that time of year when the leaves turn golden and hasn’t it happened quickly this year! I’ve started getting Hygge (Danish for cosy and snuggly for the winter months with blankets, candles, slippers and comfort food). The apples and pears are hanging off the trees and many have already fallen-  they are begging to be picked right now! I want to share my new pear crisp recipe with you.

Here’s a lovely recipe I made with my Saturday class this week and it’s too easy / good / satisfyingly “hygge” not to share with you.

It’s a warm, spiced crunchy crispy and sticky comforting dish. It can be eaten with fingers or served with ice cream, cream or custard for a dessert. The children in my class were eating it as soon as they walked out of the door. I try to get them to save the food they make so that their parents can at least see what they’ve been doing. I wonder how often the food actually makes it to their homes!

So here’s the recipe

pear crisp crumble apple kids cook children cook cookery lesson autumn autumnal tasty delicious easy aromatic wholesome healthy spiced cinnamon oats pears apples brown sugar lemon juice

 

All you need to do is complete a quick sign up form with your name and email which will allow you to automatically receive free recipes , tips, newsletters and articles in future (no need to sign up again for anything from my website.  If you just want the recipe, but not the newsletter, it’s easy to unsubscribe as soon as you’ve received the recipe.

A bit more about the recipe:

Pear crisp is a baked pear dish with a spiced oaty crumble sprinkled over the pears and then baked. It’s great as a dessert or finger food. It would be a super tasty fireside snack or even camp food. It could be made in a foil parcel – yummy!

In our lesson:
Knife skills

This was a good opportunity for us to learn about using knives safely. My classes are mixed ages and so younger children have more assistance. I only allow usage of knives with 1:1 supervision and children are taught correct knife handling techniques for cooking.  I was so proud to see the progress and confidence of some of the children who had been attending my classes for some time.

Food science

We used lemon juice on the sliced pears while we prepared our oaty topping. The children learned about the use of an acid (lemon juice) to prevent the enzymic browning that happens once fruit has been cut and exposed to the air.

Nutrition

We also discussed fibre and it’s importance in our diet along with the multitude of vitamins that we get from eating fruit.

Working as a team to clear up afterwards!

Most lessons end with a quick washing up session. Roles are divided between the children (and me) and we work as a team to get the job done. Children covet certain roles – Equipment organiser is a popular one! It’s also a great opportunity for a chat and we have fun getting the job done together. I just wish that washing up was as fun at home!

If you’d like to know more about my cookery classes, please have a look here:

cookery school craft learn recipes children kids activities lessons holiday club autumn winter Ramsgate Westgate Broadstairs East Kent Margate Thanet Cook Cookery Food Healthy Beginners Make creative creativity art sewing lunch breakfast dinner