The other night, I made an herbed braised chicken for dinner for Kullervo and me. I stuffed the chicken with apples, covered it with garlic, fresh thyme, green onions, and leeks, and braised it in white wine with cabbage. Kullervo said that it might have been the best roasted chicken I’d ever made. (I didn’t try it—I generally find poultry to be kind of gross.) However, even with the best of intentions, he wasn’t able to eat an entire chicken for dinner, so we had plenty of leftovers.
So the next day, the kids and I decided we wanted to spend a bunch of time cooking. I really enjoy cooking with my kids. I have the patience for the messes and the spills and the fact that it takes at least three times as long. (It’s a point of pride for me, too, because Kullervo doesn’t like cooking with the kids, and I feel like in general, he is much better at doing stuff with them than I am.) There are also the generically educational aspects to it—measurements, fractions, and whatnot. I also spend a decent amount of time talking to the kids about where we get our produce, and living sustainably, etc.
Anyway, I told the kids that we were going to take the chicken from last night, and they were going to choose all the other ingredients, within reason, and we were going to cook their creation. So, I had them choose if they wanted rice or pasta. Then I had them choose what kind of a sauce we wanted to make—a tomato based sauce, a cheese based sauce, or a brown butter sauce. And they chose which vegetables they wanted.
So we measured out the rice and got that cooking in the rice cooker. Then Hazel and I set about making brown butter sauce—which I had never made before, and I think we actually did incorrectly. While Hazel stirred, I chopped up the vegetables they asked for—green onions, garlic scapes, red and green bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, corn, and Swiss chard. We cooked them with the butter and the chicken, and Hazel delighted in getting to add the salt and pepper.
One of the things that I love about cooking with my kids is that they like to try all the individual ingredients. They ate some of the cold chicken. They tried raw garlic scapes and green onions. I didn’t let them try the bell peppers ahead of time because we only had a couple of small ones from our CSA and I wanted them in the dish. They tasted the corn from our garden that we froze last weekend. They also tasted each of the herbs in our herb garden to see which one they wanted to flavor it with—rosemary, thyme, or sage. They tried to convince me that the Stevia plant would be a good idea, but I wouldn’t let them use it, although I did let them munch on some leaves.
While we were working on that, Oliver was busy with our snack recipe. We got a recipe from my sister for no-bake protein balls that is filled with healthy stuff like ground flaxseed and oats and peanut butter (and chocolate chips and coconut too!). He mixed the ingredients together and rolled all of the individual balls.
Altogether, it was a successful meal and they both ate a healthy meal that they prepared themselves, with a fun snack for dessert!