James's pasta butterflies with peas & garlic butter (page 200)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Weigh the butterflies.
  • Peel the onion. Start your child off by cutting off the tops with a knife. Then peel the skin just enough to give them something to grip and then pull off. This is extremely satisfying at any age.
  • Weigh the peas and beans.
  • Cut the garlic butter with a butter knife.

My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

Jake 5 years 5 months, James 2 years 9 months


As brilliant as Jake is, he found eating the cooked watercress too difficult, which is why I suggest leaving it out. You could slice it thinly which I didn’t think of doing at the time, but the cooked leaves are just too hard for kids to chew.


This is a magical time. I am at home almost every day working on this book. Jake's in the kitchen with me every morning except Friday and James has started coming into the kitchen every evening. Today he rushed in as soon as I came through the door and he helped me get the vegetables out of the fridge, he weighed the beans, peas and farfalle again and again. He peeled the onions using my starter method for the first time and he did a lovely job. He bit the onion too, which he didn’t like much, but I’d changed the recipe to chop rather than slice the onions and he ate the cooked dice at dinner. I was so excited I stopped eating.


He ate two French beans raw in the kitchen and he ate up all of his vegetables at the table. When dinner was nearly ready, I asked him to tell Jake and Jess that it was five minutes away, 'Five minutes for dinner,' he shouted, 'it’s five minutes away from here'. I remember Jake shouting the same words at the same age. These times are fleeting, these moments make me smile for much longer than when they are actually happening and they make me more convinced than ever about our practical playtime. If I didn’t make Jake’s school lunch with him, or make dinner with James, we would not have that time together doing something else. The jobs need doing and they need doing together.