I remember when I used to give my little ones stacks of pots and pans with cooking utensils to bang on them with. Nothing like a 15 month-old toying around with an improvised set of drums. At around 2 they got their first can of Play Doh. My kids still love Play Doh. Hell, I still love Play Doh. It’s wondrous how children love to imitate us and how we as grown-ups love to imitate them. I mean, who doesn’t like to make mud pies of either the earthly or culinary kind?
Cooking to me is an experience of bringing to life individuality, concentration, ingenuity, patience, and resourcefulness, just to name a few. Young or old, creative or meticulous, adventurous or cautious, cooking has it all, and sometimes all at once. The all at once thing is probably one of the reasons children love to cook and why I want to let them. However, I have yet to master the patience of allowing my kids to take over in the kitchen and it may be a long time before I leave the sidelines. Cooking takes preparation, it’s time consuming, mess making, and most times a big ordeal.
My lack of patience combined with fear for my children’s safety makes it mandatory for this Witch to take a big breath of Zen before handing over an apron; both the apron and deep breath are imperative before teaching a little one how to crack an egg. Of course it took me some time to learn this.
My youngest daughter is the child who has always loved to help me in the kitchen. I’ll admit I’m still freakishly afraid of letting her handle raw chicken but I’ve gotten much better about most things….well, except sharp knives, cheese graters, can openers, and even those dumb little tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls. I’m telling you, I’ve cut myself on everyone one of those things (yes, even the crescent roll tube) and I, like those who regularly cook, have plenty of scars to prove it. Of course every time I can think of, those slices and nics happened when I was in a mad rush to complete dinner. Someday I suppose I’ll learn my lesson.
One of my parental milestones was accomplished when I finally let her take over the pan on the burner without cringing in fear that she would burn herself or create a disaster of monstrous proportions. Loosening my grip on controlling the kitchen has been hard, especially when I step back and watch those little mistakes happen so that she can learn from them. In the end, her bright smile of pride is all I need to dispel my fears (within reason of course).
Here’s a few of our favorite (easy) Mabon recipes. Enjoy!
Spicy Mabon Punch
4 whole cloves
3 cups apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups pineapple juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Stud the whole oranges with cloves, and bake for 30 minutes.
In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the nutmeg, honey, lemon juice, and pineapple juice. Can be placed in a slow cooker on low heat with clove-studded oranges floating on top.
Autumn Apple Salad
8 tart green apples, cored and chopped
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds,
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
2 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt
In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, almonds, cranberries, cherries and yogurt until evenly coated. Serve Immediately
Yellow Squash Casserole
Be creative and use different types of squash if you wish.
4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
36 buttery round crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Autumn Beef Stew
2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water
In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.
Serve with butter and honey if you wish
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Rustic Fruit Tart
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 apples – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 pear – peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed
Cut the cold butter and cream cheese into the flour with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (This can also be done in a food processor: pulse the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal; add the cream cheese and pulse until it’s the size of small peas.) When you squeeze a handful of the mixture, it should form a ball. Shape the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Toss the sliced apples and pear with the orange juice. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cornstarch. Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture and set aside.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Set out an 8-inch tart pan, or, if you’ll be making a free-form tart (galette), lightly grease a baking sheet.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 10-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the tart pan or baking sheet. Arrange the fruit decoratively in the tart pastry. If you’re baking the tart on a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough and fold it up over the edge of the fruit (the pastry folds will overlap).
Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and brush it with the apricot jam.
Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(