This morning I had the delightful privilege to work with a group of children in the kitchen who gather every so often in a rich community of home-schooled families. What I witnessed was the coming together of the enthusiasm so often present in young minds. I love to begin cooking classes with a time for sharing favourite memories in the kitchen and it was obvious that this group of youngsters are helping out in their family kitchens a lot. With the wide range of ages present today I also got to see wonderful examples of positive youth engagement as the older students supported the younger ones in the tasks around the island.
We had so much to discuss today: whole grains, sprouting beans and mirepoix. We worked on knife skills with each child taking turns with peelers, paring knives and the great big chef knife. I thought it was funny when Finn asked me if you become a chef when you own a chef’s knife. I said I thought that to be true and explained that I got my chef knife as a Christmas present in high school. I guess I have always wanted to cook.
Since we were using barley in the soup and wheat and oats in the cookies I used this class as an opportunity to talk about whole grains. We smashed some wheat kernels using a mortar and pestle so we could see inside and talk about the bran, endosperm and germ. I let each of the children take a turn bashing and grinding the wheat kernels into a somewhat course whole wheat flour. Since I have been sprouting bean seeds for the March Break camp next week, I placed them out so children could take turns making observations about the stages of germination. Ten children around an island yielding knives is a little nerve racking even for me so the bean sprouts and flour grinding served as good alternate activities for children waiting their turn at the cutting board.
At the end of the two hour class we had pulled together a tomato, barley and chickpea soup along with banana, chia seed, coconut cookies. I asked for some feedback on the soup and was happy to hear the positive responses. It goes to show yet again that when you involve children in the cooking of their meals they are much more likely to try them with an open mind and curious palate.
What did you think of the soup?
- “Best soup ever!”
- “I really loved it.”
- “I really like how the vegetables mixed in well so you didn’t really taste them.”
- 1 cup barley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Soak barley in water – 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.
- In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add bay leaves, paprika, cumin, barley, broth, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or until barley is tender.
- Add tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for 20 minutes or until flavors have blended. Discard bay leaves.
- Left over soup can be frozen for up to 4-6 months. Add more water or stock as soup will thicken.
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups large rolled oats
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup of oat flour or more whole wheat
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, coconut oil or nut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.
- In separate bowl, mash banana and mix in oil and vanilla.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix until just moistened.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
- Spoon heaping spoonful of dough onto cookie sheet leaving 1” between.
- Lightly flatten cookies using moistened fingertips.
- Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Allow to cool on pan for 10 minutes.
- Will stay fresh for 1 week in an airtight container. Cookies can be frozen for 1-2 months.
A happy group of hard working cooks!