See the slideshow to go on an adventure with burgers / mince steaks (page 111)
Photographs copyright Peter Knab
Burgers / Mince Steaks (page 111)
Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids
My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary
Jake 4 years 11 months, James 2 years 3 months
The burgers were extra special for Jake because he chose the chapter. It was school holiday time so Casey joined us for a lot of it as well. Beyond the usual mix of excitement and frustration that goes with recipe testing it was a memorable chapter for me because Jake, Casey and even James could often pop in to help. They loved the simple act of shaping their own burgers in the kitchen. 'I’ve made my own burger,' they’d say, then rush back to whatever wonderful world they’d created in their make believe. We also rolled little balls with the mince, each about the same size as a cherry tomato then made them into kebabs by alternating the meatballs with cherry tomatoes, cooked carrots, broccoli, potatoes or peppers.
Little and often involvement in the kitchen is much more important than the occasional baking session. If you can do both then all the better. But if not then get them to shape a burger, measure ingredients for a dressing, stir, pick herbs, break eggs, grind pepper, peel veg, smell and taste as much as possible at as many as possible different stages. Every time they get involved it is a great incentive for them to appreciate more what they eat at the table. Both Jake and Casey particularly enjoyed the times when they could make their own burgers. Then, of course, depending on the recipe, they could build their burger combinations at the table. I must try to make more of our food things that they can combine for themselves at the table. Half portions were fine for Jake (nearly 5) and Casey (8).
Remember always to taste the food you give your kids. We all know to steer clear of too much salt for them. I love salt and I’ll often add extra salt to my plate before I take it from the kitchen so as not to put it on the table. If it is on the table, they will always want to add some. Jake caught me out yesterday. I had added extra salt to my food and then gave him a slice of my tomato, 'wow, that’s really salty Daddy, it’s horrible.' I felt I had to put a pound into the swear box for that one.
Wherever I can I leave out the salt completely, but that never means the food isn’t seasoned. The kids I cook for almost always love the small amounts of sweet herbs, spices and citrus I add to our food. This chapter was a great opportunity to explore these seasonings. For example, I don’t know if I’ve ever used allspice in our food before. But I did here and Jake loved it. This is where Adventures with Ingredients is so satisfying because the transformation of each main ingredient tends to teach me something new. I have had my own eyes opened by my own ideas. Before this, I varied my seasonings very little. It is so good for kids because it is a very gentle way of introducing them to new flavours.
Unfortunately, this time around James wasn’t interested. He didn't even try a single burger when 4-5 months ago it was his favourite thing. I’m moving onto green curry and mackerel now and I’m not giving up!