by Faith Kitsunezaki
Warmer weather brings renewed energy and life back to the family. Heavy sweaters are tossed aside in favor of lighter and more colorful wear, bats and balls come out of their dusty winter corner, and the smell of sweaty shoes and socks left abandoned in the doorway is a reminder that summer is just around the corner.
What was once a quick half hour at the park in chilling winds becomes an extension of the morning or afternoon, as a race around the park, another go on the slide, or the mammoth construction of train lines and princess castles in the sandpit continue into what was once nap time. Once returning home the kids are itching to do anything other than watch TV. Raised energy levels also mean increased appetites for growing children. For a springtime activity that both the young and old will enjoy, why not get the little ones in your life to assist in making up the afternoon snack?
For the princesses in your life, cake is a tried and true recipe, but a quicker and easier alternative to a large cake are muffins. Once the aprons are tied, it’s time to mix!
Makes 12 medium sized muffins.
½ cup butter (113g)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg (or 2 small eggs)
¾ cup milk
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and milk. Slowly sift in dry ingredients.
Place one tablespoon of muffin mixture into paper lined muffin tins. In the middle of each put one large teaspoon of strawberry jam, then using the rest of the muffin mixture, fill muffin cups up to three quarters full.
Bake for 15 minutes. Muffins will be ready to eat straight from the oven as a warm dessert, or once cooled, top with a little icing sugar
Easy Strawberry Jam
Making your own jam with in-season fruits is not only economical, it also cuts out artificial preservatives. Makes one medium/large or two small jars.
1 cup fresh, washed strawberries
1 cup sugar (castor sugar works best)
Washed and heated jam jars
Place strawberries in a saucepan and add sugar; stir over a low heat without boiling until mixture becomes jam-like. Pour immediately into heated jam jars. Once cooled, store in fridge.
For kids of all ages, chocolate is an instant pleaser. Homemade chocolates are fun to make and can be ready in less than an hour.
Ingredients and equipment
Small foil cups
2 blocks of snack chocolate (we used Ghana brand in this recipe)
Icing and candy decorations
Put broken chocolate squares into a small stainless bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering hot water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir chocolate slowly until completely melted. Transfer melted chocolate into foil cups using a teaspoon. Ask your little assistants to put their favorite candy decorations on top of each chocolate.
Refrigerate the chocolate cups until they have set (usually 30 minutes is sufficient).
For the young sportsmen in your life, why not try a soccer field snack? Soccer balls made of rice and veggie sticks with a dipping sauce are not only fun, but they get kids to eat their vegetables as well!
Pre-cut soccer ball nori sheets (found in most supermarkets)
Mayonnaise (we used Kewpie brand of mayonnaise)
Place a large tablespoon of rice in the middle of a piece of kitchen cling wrap. After folding over the wrap, ask your assistant to roll the rice into a ball. Once the ball is completed, take the rice out and coverwith the pre-cut soccer ball nori sheet. Leave to rest on a plate.
Cut cucumber and carrot sticks (celery, daikon, and bell pepper can also be used). Your little helper may want to use these to make grass and goal lines.
Mix together equal measures of mayonnaise and ketchup to make a yummy dipping sauce.
Parenting Tip: What about the mess?
Kids are only kids for a short time. Allowing them to have a measure of freedom and choices, even in the kitchen, will improve their self confidence, diminish stress levels, and give free reign to their creative side. Cooking with kids is not only fun, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and forges a stronger bond with parents. Opening their horizons to new and wonderful things while spending time with them is a greater gift to a child than any toy could be, and in the end will be well worth the sacrifice of a spotless kitchen.