Cooking up keiki quality time


POSTED: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When it comes to kids encountering the wooden spoon and frying pan, there seems to be a lot of trepidation on the part of grown-ups. The combination of kitchens and kids can inspire dread. Just think about the sharp tools and heat sources, not to mention the mess.

Yet, cooking together is quality time well spent, says Loretta Yajima, president of the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center.

“;Parents are often put off by the mess, but the kids really love it,”; she says. “;And they end up having fun together. The kids are so proud of what they make.”;

It turns out Yajima knows this because the center is hosting monthly cooking classes, Kids in the Kitchen, in its new 10,000 square-foot facility featuring space not just for classes and parties, but a children's cafe as well. Fare served there is simple, the kind children favor, including Spam musubi, macaroni and cheese, and soup and salad.

While the cafe is already serving visitors, stay tuned for an official grand opening.

Yajima says she's already seen wonderful growth in children through the cooking class. One dish in the lineup is a Penguin Pocket, pita bread filled with tuna.

“;One time, a little boy and girl came to cook with their dad, but they wouldn't eat what they made. It turns out they hated tuna,”; she recalls. “;But in the end, they both tasted it and ended up deciding they like tuna.





        Simple cooking classes at the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center. Download a registration form here.  Call 524-5437.

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» Feb. 13: Almond cookies to celebrate Chinese New Year


» March 13: Shamrock pretzels in commemoration of St. Patrick's Day


“;These classes acquaint children with new things. It gives families time to bond together to build wonderful memories.”;

Timid souls seeking memories outside their own kitchens can also check out city park programs, which often offer children's cooking classes. They often go on for weeks, and cost is usually nominal.

But if you have taken a bold and adventurous approach to raising children, or simply love the kitchen and want to pass that on to your kids, here are a few recipes to try at home, including the center's gingerbread recipe, which Yajima swears by.

Another recipe, Cinnamon Popcorn, comes from Mrs. Claus' Kitchen, an online listing of family recipes featured at the Elf on the Shelf Web site, http://www.elfontheshelf.com. Recipes are rated according to ease or difficulty with a recommendation for the amount of adult supervision required. A popcorn recipe is rated “;somewhat easy,”; but supervision is recommended.

A couple final recipes are pulled from “;Tiana's Cookbook, Recipes for Kids,”; published by Disney Press in coordination with the release of the latest Disney animated film, “;The Princess and the Frog.”;

Disney's marketing, sharp as ever, builds on its entrepreneurial heroine's backstory of a desire to open a restaurant. The tale is set in New Orleans, so some recipes have a Cajun flair. Recipes range from easy to difficult, making the cookbook appealing to a wide range of ages.



Courtesy Children's Discovery Center

5-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
3/4 pound margarine
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
Raisins, sprinkles, small candies or anything to decorate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Set aside.

Cream together margarine and brown sugar. Add molasses and egg and mix well.

Slowly add flour mixture until mixed well.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out dough on board, using a bit of flour to coat board if necessary, and cut with cookie cutters. Decorate.

Bake for 15 minutes. Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie (based on standard cookie size of 30 grams, without decorations): 140 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 2 g protein.



; Courtesy Mrs. Claus' Kitchen

1 bag microwave popcorn
3 tablespoons light butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup peanuts, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pop popcorn in microwave, according to package directions.

Place popcorn in large bowl. Remove all unpopped kernels.

Microwave butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and cinnamon to butter and microwave until sugar dissolves. Stir in vanilla and peanuts.

Pour mixture over popcorn and mix thoroughly, then pour popcorn mixture onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes. Cool and enjoy. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 300 calories,17 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 6 g protein.


Swamp-Water Smoothie

From “;Tiana's Cookbook, Recipes for Kids”;

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup blueberries, washed
1 frozen banana

Measure all of the ingredients into a blender and put the top on. Blend on the puree setting until smooth, about 30 seconds or so. Serves. 1.

Tip: Chopping the banana into pieces before freezing will make it easier to blend.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 230 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 54 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 8 g protein.


Oven-Baked Potato Wedges

; From “;Tiana's Cookbook, Recipes for Kids”;

4 medium Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel potatoes and slice into about 10 wedges. Dry off excess starch with paper towel.

In baking dish, toss potatoes with oil to coat. Bake for 25 minutes, turning at least once. Sprinkle with salt. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving(not including salt to taste): 400 calories, 14 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 8 g protein.