The Telegraph article - Make it fun and easy – the 5 best recipes to get children into cooking during the lockdown
Publication: The Telegrah
The coronavirus lockdown is the perfect time to teach children how to cook, and fun, messy recipes are the ideal place to start
By Tomé Morrissy-Swan 30 March 2020 • 2:01pm
With the coronavirus lockdown shutting schools, children are spending the majority of the day cooped up indoors. Often, parents will be working alongside, scratching their heads for ideas to keep the kids entertained.
There’s school, of course, via online classes and parents frantically trying to remember long division. Will parents take the unprecedented measure of making kids work through the Easter holiday? Unlikely. Exercise is also vital. Easy enough: stick Joe Wicks on the laptop every morning. And chores – youngsters will love having more of those.
Another way to keep children off Xbox is cooking. Starting them early can entrench positive habits for life, while cooking is an excellent way of promoting confidence and independence. Yes, it might cause a mess, but it keeps them occupied and, as a bonus, you may just get a nice lunch.
Angie Johnson, also known as Mrs Bun the Baker, has taught cooking to children for over 25 years, in primary and secondary schools and now at her own cookery school in Oxfordshire. She teachers children as young as two and up to their teens. Of course, the techniques used vary based on age and skill.
For toddlers, the emphasis is on making it fun and easy, with quick bursts to match their short attention spans. “We do two minutes on something, then move on to something else,” Johnson explains. “Some are ready to follow instructions, to listen, to do things for a bit longer.” Safety at this age is paramount. As hobs are dangerous (they are brought in around 12), food is often oven-friendly, such as breads, chicken pies, lasagnes and biscuits. Toddler-friendly knives are used.
Anything with a quick result is good for children, explains Elizabeth Fawcett, founder of Humble Pie Cookery Kitchen in Yorkshire. Fawcett has pivoted towards online classes since the lockdown, with children the main focus. “Ideally, you want something that looks impressive and tastes nice,” she explains. “It needs to be quick, otherwise they can lose interest.”
Fawcett likes simple, easy lunches, such as cheese scone pizzas, and says bread is a fantastic project. “They make a right mess,” she admits, but you can make all sorts of fun things simply with plain flour: Chelsea buns, cottage buns, plaited buns, hedgehogs. Soups, burgers, koftas, muffins and Swiss are all excellent options, too.
“For me, it has to be very interactive,” says Fawcett, who advises against pushy parenting. “You have to let them do it, not saying ‘don’t do it this way’. It has to be their result.” This is particularly pertinent the older they get, according to Johnson.
Ultimately, cooking should be fun. Flavour is important, too, but emphasising the enjoyment aspect is crucial to entrenching a lifelong love for cooking.
Mrs Bun the Baker is running live YouTube cook-alongs for kids every Friday at 2pm during the lockdown. Elizabeth Fawcett is running online cookery classes for kids daily, at 5pm, on Facebook.
Read more and check out the five recipes, from bread and gnocchi to a delicious brownie by clicking the Telegraph Link.