Cooking Magic for Kids

Kid Chef Canned Tomato Salsa

Kids can make a zesty salsa to last through the winter with 12 fresh tomatoes from their organic garden to fill 6 (8 ounce) jars. Kids can fill a a large stainless steel pot with 5 cups of chopped tomatoes (12 tomatoes), 2 ½ cups organic green pepper (2 peppers), 2 ½ cups organic onion (2 onions), 1 ¼ cups chopped and seeded jalapeño peppers (7 peppers), ¾ cup organic apple cider vinegar, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, 1 ½ tsp sea salt. Bring the veggies to a boil over medium high heat and cook 10 minutes. 

Fill the water canner pot half full with water and bring to a boil. Or kids can skip the canner pot and store their jars in the refrigerator. Wash 6 (8 ounce) canning jars with lids and screw bands in a large bowl of hot soapy water and rinse well. Return them to the bowl and submerge them in hot water. Drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel 1 minute. Ladle the hot relish into the jars, leaving ½ inch at the top. Wipe off rims of filled jars, top with lids, and screw on bands. Boil in the water canner, covering the jars with 1 inch of water for 20 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Label and date the jars. This salsa makes a delicious topping for tacos, sandwiches, chips, or toast.

Teens fight Climate Change with Diet Change

Teens can make a difference to improve air, water, and soil pollution by choosing local organic products. Individual choices can make a concrete difference in climate change. Many teens, who are not vegans, are choosing plant based veggie burgers, and burritos at many chain restaurants which now have vegan options, like Veggie Grill’s Luxe Burger in the picture above.  Because 75% of all agricultural land around the world is used for livestock production, cutting global meat consumption in half would free the farmland to grow fruits and veggies for people and end world hunger.

Meat production is the leading cause of deforestation, habitat destruction, and wildlife extinction. Farm animals are fed on corn and soy that has been genetically modified with pesticides and herbicides, poisoning 10,000 farm workers a year. Manure runoff from factory farms is a leading cause of water pollution in the U.S. This manure runoff has caused algae blooms and dead zones in the ocean. In California 45% of the available water is used in meat and dairy production. Also meat production makes more greenhouse gases than all the planes, trains, and cars in the world, because cows and sheep burp methane and poop nitrous oxide.

Teens are rising to the challenge, choosing one day a week to not eat meat. By choosing organic products, teens can reduce the poisoning of the air, land, and water. By growing their own organic garden, teens can improve their health and happiness as well as the environment.

Kids Home Garden

Home gardens are the most productive way of growing organic food that humans have ever devised. Because of suburban sprawl covering vast amounts of farmland, many families in the United States are living on prime fertile land in the perfect spot for a backyard organic fruit and veggie garden. The garden is a pleasant way to relax and one of the best ways to exercise, giving kids a satisfying and rewarding activity. 

Because of industrialization, for the last hundred years food has become another just another commercial product. Food is made cheaply by using as much as 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to create 1 calorie of food energy. Chemical farming has burned the topsoil, wasted our supply of underground water, and released huge quantities of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Processed food uses these conventionally grown crops with pesticides and herbicides, plus adds extra fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, and other chemicals. This has created an alarming rise in diabetes, cancer, obesity, food allergies, and other life threatening diseases. 

Kids can grow local organic food that is of exceptional flavor and quality that can improve their family’s health within weeks, as the nutrients in organic fruits, herbs, and veggies are the best medicine. Kids can harvest and eat the food within minutes of picking, before any of the nutrients have started to break down. A home garden is a vital link between humans and the earth. Kids are amazed to discover that the molecules in a tomato from their garden become the molecules in their bodies when they eat it. Kids learn that a small area of soil can feed their entire family. Nurturing their organic garden teaches kids to be more aware of their impact on the environment and their place in the universe.

Kid Chef Strawberry Hand Pie

Strawberry Hand Pies are tangy sweet with a nice crunchy bite on top and sing of summer days. Kids can make 4 hand pies with fresh organic strawberries. Sift 1 ⅛ cups of organic whole wheat pastry flour into a large mixing bowl with 1 ½ tbsp organic cane sugar, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp baking powder. Kids can cut into the flour ¼ cup cold organic vegan butter and mix with  their fingers. Mix in slowly ¼ cup cold organic plain soy yogurt and ⅛ cup organic plain almond milk and knead the mixture a few times with the heal of their hands. Form a log about 6 inches long and wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400°and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice 8 ounces of fresh organic strawberries into ¼ inch slices and put into a mixing bowl with ⅛ cup organic cane sugar, 1 tbsp organic cornstarch, 1½ tsp fresh lemon juice, ½ tsp pure vanilla extract and put in the freezer while rolling out the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough log into a 14 x 7 inch rectangle.  Slice the rectangle in half to make 2 squares. Slice in squares in half to make four small rectangles. Put a cup of water nearby. Remove the filling from the freezer. Kids can dip their fingers in the water to wet the edges of a pastry rectangle. Pour ¼ cup of filling into one half of the pastry and fold it over. Kids can press their fingers along the edges of the pastry to press it closed and press a fork into the edges to create a crimped pattern that seals it. Place the hand pie on the baking sheet and continue with the other three. Brush water on top of each pastry and sprinkle with a little sugar. Make three slits in the dough to let steam escape. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through so they bake evenly. The pies are ready when the edges are lightly browned and the filling is bubbly. Let them cool completely before eating by lifting the parchment paper and moving the pies to a different surface.

Kids Convection Oven

Home kitchens have different kinds of ovens: gas, microwave, electric, and convection ovens. Which kind of oven is the best for baking a cake, like the lemon olive oil cake in the picture above? Gas ovens create a humid heat and its elements heat and cool quickly, but oven temperatures are hotter at the top of the gas oven. Which means that kids have to place their cupcakes farther from the heat source and rotate them during baking. A microwave oven is mainly for reheating prepared foods as it heats the molecules in the outer 1.5 inches of the food with electromagnetic radiation. The boiling-range temperatures of a microwave will not brown or caramelize food or produce the flavorful chemical reactions that other ovens will when frying, browning, or baking at a higher temperature. An electric oven heats up faster than a gas oven and the heat is drier and more evenly distributed, which makes it better for baking and roasting.

A convection oven is a type of electric oven and is the best kind of oven for baking. It has three heating elements and a fan that circulates the air around the food to bake it. The extra heating element and fan is what distinguishes a convection oven and creates the more even baking. The exhaust system pulls the moisture out of the oven, so food becomes more crisp and brown. The fan circulating the air transfers heat more quickly than still air of the same temperature and the food bakes more evenly and 30% faster.

Kids plant Food on Balconies

Kids can plant food in containers especially made to grow organic fruit and veggies on a balcony railing. Depending on where the sunlight hits the area, kids can add an adjustable awning to provide shade for a hot spot or reflectors to bring in more sun. To protect against high winds, kids can provide a a trellis for beans in a planter box or a woven bamboo screen for shelter and privacy. Kids can plant herbs and veggies in pots, grow bags, hanging baskets, and window boxes and fill the area with fresh produce for the dinner table. Berry bushes and dwarf fruit trees can be grown in large containers and make a delightful feature for a small space. Kids can hang a window box outside a sunny window that opens so they can water and fertilize the herbs and veggies. Most window boxes are 3 feet long and 8 inches deep, although there are many sizes to choose from that can be hung on brackets, straps, or chains. Many window boxes have reservoirs for self watering. Kids can find many options to make a small space into a mini food producing garden. Kids can grow what they can, where they are, with what they have available.

Kid Chef Grape Jam

Kids that grow an organic grape vine can make this sweet treat that is not only perfect on a peanut butter sandwich, but is tasty on yogurt, biscuits, cupcakes, and toast. Shelley (like those in the picture) or Concord Grapes make a sweet purple jam with lovely floral notes. Kids can pick 4 pounds of grapes, wash, sort, remove from the stems, and weigh on the scale. Put them in a 6 – 8 quart pot and add 3 cups of organic cane sugar and 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Over a medium heat, stir the mixture frequently, skimming and removing foam from the top, and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool. Ladle a little of the mixture at a time into a blender, puree the skins and pulp, and pour into a large bowl. Repeat until all the mixture is blended. Pour the mixture through a strainer into the large pot, press down on the mixture in the strainer with a spoon, and discard remaining solids. Bring the grape mixture to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 35 minutes, skimming foam and stirring occasionally.

Wash 4 or 5 (8 ounce) canning jars with lids and screw bands in a large bowl of hot soapy water and rinse well. Return them to the bowl and submerge them in hot water. Drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel 1 minute. Ladle jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch of space on top. Wipe off rims of filled jars, top with lids, and screw on bands. Label and date the jars. Put the jars in the refrigerator, eat any that haven’t sealed properly first. The preserves will thicken as they cool. Allow the jars to cool and the flavor to develop 24 hours before tasting.