During these Corona times, families are cooped up together in constant contact. Many parents are struggling to supervise, educate and entertain their kids 24/7. You may find yourself spending endless hours in the kitchen preparing meals. Your routines have been upended. There’s disappointment, frustration, anxiety. And everyone is a little stir crazy.
Here’s one way to turn the situation around and make lemonade out of lemons—or bibimbap out of rice and eggs!
Cultivate the chef in your kid! There are many possible benefits:
- Cooking projects are a way to bring fun, education, and camaraderie to the quarantine.
- Cooking can be the perfect outlet for bored kids who need to move, think, create.
- Cooking is one of the only activities available under quarantine.
- Learning kitchen skills will foster independence in your kid.
- Culinary accomplishments will give your kid a sense of pride.
- Kids are more likely to eat the food they cook because they’ve invested themselves.
- Cooking new dishes broadens their horizons—and also their palates. With your encouragement they will discover new foods. You can create challenges and make it into a game.
- After cooking as a family, kids may be motivated to try something simple on their own. Either way, you now have a trained sous-chef…
The recipe below may appear intimidating because of the number of ingredients and steps, but it is actually quite easy to make and just requires lots and lots of chopping. The result is a potpourri of unique flavors that taste incredible when combined. Kids have many choices of veggies so can pick and choose and hopefully taste them all.
- Be sure your kids understand how to use a knife properly (Check out this video!) and to maneuver safely around the stove. For example, check your hand position when handling a knife. Where are your fingers? Are they straight or curled? How about your thumb? What’s the best way to make a round fruit or vegetable steady so you don’t slip when cutting it?
- Check that they have the correct ingredients and have not mistaken something edible for something similar-looking but inedible. It might be fun for them to watch this 1941 Donald Duck cartoon about a recipe gone wrong—look what happens when you accidentally use rubber cement instead of baking powder!!
- I’ve included links to YouTube videos which are a really informative and fun way to learn a variety of skills including how to cut various vegetables. Most kids are more familiar with videos than cookbooks and will probably pick up recipes more quickly with a visual guide. My son has learned almost everything he knows about cooking from YouTube videos. He has become so passionate about making delicious food that I’ve actually caught him in bed after lights out with his iPad under the covers watching cooking shows. He can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try something new. He starts with a found recipe and then it evolves into his own creation.
Korean Tofu Bibimbap
Bibimbap is fun to say, so that’s a great start. The Korean word translates into mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables. This version uses tofu but you can replace with meat or just use vegetables. In fact, there are endless variations of this dish and you can substitute almost any vegetable for another, depending on what ‘s available in the fridge. You can also experiment with more complex sauces. This is a basic version that my son created and is easy to make (although time consuming); it was inspired by a mouth-watering trip to a Korean restaurant in Austin many years ago where we first discovered the dish. I’ve included links to Youtube videos so your kids can learn about different styles of chopping veggies.
- 1 lb carrots
- 2 lbs button mushrooms
- 1 zucchini
- 1 bunch bok choy
- 1 lb bean sprouts
- 1 cucumber
- 5 green onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- Sweet chili sauce
- 2 packs tofu (I like Wildwood organic with sprouted soybeans.)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- Honey to taste
- Siracha (optional)
- 2 cups Long-grain white rice (Jasmine or Basmati)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 lb frozen peas
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- Rinse all. Remove wilted or damaged tops or slimy skin on onions.
- Julienne carrots and zucchini (cut into 2″ matchstick strips).
- Slice mushrooms thinly.
- Slice cucumbers into rounds, then in half (half-moon).
- Dice green onions into small pieces.
- Mince or crush garlic.
- Heat up medium size pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
- Sauté each vegetable one at a time for 3-5 minutes until soft.
- Remove and place in separate piles on oven-safe dish.
- Add a teaspoon oil in between each.
- Place oven-safe plate in toaster oven at 170˚ to keep warm or leave on counter and put back in oven 5 minutes before tofu is ready.
- Chop into 1″ x 2″ rectangles.
- Place in casserole dish.
- Mix in sweet chili sauce.
- Add honey and siracha to taste.
- Bake in oven at 350˚ for 15 minutes.
- Rinse rice in strainer until water comes out clear.
- Boil 2 cups water in pot.
- Add rice and simmer for 20 minutes. Here’s a simple stovetop rice video and here’s one for a pressure cooker like an instapot.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk them, add pinch of salt.
- Put wok (or saucepan) on high heat for 2 minutes.
- Add one tablespoon avocado oil.
- Pour egg into pan, continuously scrambling.
- While still moist add 2 more tablespoons oil.
- Toss in rice and stir into egg.
- Season with 2 tablespoon soy sauce and pinch of salt.
- Turn off heat, add green onion, mix in.
Remove tofu and vegetable dish from oven.
Fill bowls halfway with egg-fried-rice.
Each person can add as much tofu and vegetables as they like.
For a super healthy version, replace rice with quinoa or riced cauliflower.
Bok choy might be new to your child. If so, look it up. What cultures use it most? In what dishes do you typically find it? It’s a good idea to introduce your child gradually to new fruits and vegetables. That will make them more open to unfamiliar foods, and eating a diverse diet is one of the keys to good health. If you nurture a sense of curiosity and excitement about new dishes, traveling to new parts of the world (and even country!) will more fun and rewarding.
What did your kid(s) like best and least? Would they prefer to add or eliminate an ingredient? If they made it again, what would they change? Recipes are flexible and experimenting is fun, so always ask kids if they can improve upon a recipe!
Next up: Crispy tender rosemary lamb chops and buttery shrimp nuggets, made enthusiastically by my 13-year old chef.
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Here are some articles on how to stay safe, sane, and prepared during Corona times:
-your Good Food Fighter
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