AI: Kitchen Chemistry
I love to cook. I cook dinner every night for my husband and myself, and not in the half-assed “I have to make dinner” way. New recipes abound in my kitchen, and I really enjoy experimenting with them.
Now I’m starting to make babyfood from raw ingredients and I find it exciting that Spencer is starting a whole new level of her development. Before long (well, a few years) she’s going to want to help in the kitchen, which is what I’m really looking forward to.
Cooking is like chemistry to me, which was the only science I ever excelled in in high school. Aside from that, it’s awesome to know that I have a skill. Possibly a skill I could turn into a job, or at the very least one that I know I’m better at than someone else. It’s also an ability I get to pass on by teaching my daughter how to do it.
Do you have any self-learned skills you want to pass on to your kids? Do you know of any fun, kid friendly kitchen experiments I should try out in a few years when she’s ready?
BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite dinner recipe?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.
The answer to all three is fried chicken. :-D
I’ve been teaching my 12-year-old some kitchen skills. I recently walked him through making a proper cheesecake. Still need to teach him chocolate chip cookies, lasagna, stroganoff and fried chicken. Kid’s going to be popular in college.
I don’t have kids, but I think some of the most valuable skills I own are the ones my Mom taught me. Basic Cooking, Sewing, embroidery, knitting, slipcovers, upholstering, how to escape the world by reading a book. I don’t really excel in any but the last one. But I have used all of them to varying degrees.
The kinds of skills we tend to teach our children are the basic “how to live”, “how to enjoy” skills. The ones that really are what life is about.
Mushrooms and Cheese (with tomatoes and onions). Done one way, it’s a great spaghetti sauce (cheese = parmesan). Done another way, it’s a great meal on it’s own (cheese = cheddar).
My list of recipes i’ve actually tried is a very short one but here’s my favorite.
Take some chicken breasts and put whatever your favorite seasoning is, i used Tony Chachere. Then I wrap the chicken in bacon and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. While that’s cooking i sautee some mushrooms and onions. Then i put that over the top of the chicken, with cheese on top of that. Put it back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and you’re done. Then with that i’ll just have either a salad or broccoli and maybe some pastaroni.
I’m a serious foodie and put my way through college cooking in a couple Seattle area restaurants. I also do all the grocery shopping and cooking unless it involves baking or deserts which are my wifeâ€™s specialty. I’ve really wanted my two kids to pick up cooking in a similar manner but no such luck. I expect either they figure Iâ€™ll cook something better so why bother or I’m too much of a bother to be in the kitchen with when I’m cooking. However my son makes killer chocolate chip cookies and my daughter makes a scratch chocolate cake that’ll knock you out.
As for a favorite recipe it really depends on my mood and what Anthony Bourdain show I’ve been watching. We have a lot of great seafood around here so anything fresh from the ocean that is cooked in manner that doesnâ€™t fuss with the natural flavor is always good. And Iâ€™ve recently been experimenting with a number of slow food recipes involving pork shoulder or beef short ribs that start with a marinade, proceeds to a smoky hot barbeque for browning, and is finished off with a few hours of slow cooking in the oven. Is it dinner time yet?
My boyfriend and I have recently gotten into making our own cheese, and if/when we have kids, I would absolutely want to pass that skill down.
We typically use “Fankhauser’s Cheese Page” (http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/cheese.html) as a guide. I recommend the neufchatel for beginners!
My tomato sauce:
Sundried or semi-dried tomatoes
Garlic, herbs, balsamic vinegar, sugar
You’re all making me so hungry! I swear, I could look at recipes all day and in a similar state of mind as when other people watch porn.
@DrBunsen: I think I will be making that sauce tomorrow! :)
Steak and Kidney pudding, roast potatoes, steamed carrots and onion gravy. Followed by Jam Rolley Polley. hmmm
For my skill to pass on, chemistry stuff aside, I used to work in a Bakery when I was a student and if I ever have kids I could teach them how to make baked goods and pastries. Might be handy for after the collapse…
Oh and home made lemon and corriander humus. That’s nice too.
Bacon. Just bacon. With a milkshake.
Or what I made the other day, chrispy roasted pepperoni slices.
Or an actual dinner, my spaghetti sort of bolognese.
Oooh, and my wife brought me a big tin of French duck fat back from the UK a month ago. Yellow potatoes cooked in duck fat till crispy with sea salt is amazing!!!
@James Fox: Goose fat is better, it has a higher smoking point than any other fat so you can get it hotter than any other without “burning” it and spoiling the taste. Also being really hot makes better crisper roast spuds.
Butter. So easy to make in a food processor. Just take heavy cream, cooled to refrigerator temperature, and whip it on high for about 10 minutes. Drain off the liquid and you’re done. For a more special treat throw in 1/2 cup of chives or basil near the end.
My mom tells a story about burning spaghetti on her first night cooking after getting married. She improved quickly, but, yeah, I’ve mainly learned how to cook on my own.
I recently discovered Kale Chips and would eat them everyday if I could get my hands on good kale often enough.
No kids but I was just thinking about all of the things I’d like to pass on to my sweet and extremely sassy niece.
1) a love of reading
2) critical thinking skills and
3) a love of craft
As for the second question – shepherd’s pie. It’s an old standard. I’d be happy to pass along the recipe if you’d like.
My favorite thing to make is a cookie cake I grew up with. Basically, you make this cream (powdered sugar, cocoa, butter and a couple of teaspoons of cofee/decaf), then take shortbread-type cookies (Maria’s if you can find them) and soak them in the coffee/decaf just long enough to soften. Set out the cookies, touching each other, on a plate, then spread a layer of the cream over the cookies. Repeat until you run out of cookies or cream. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until the cookies and cream fuse and harden a little bit. It’s very yummy and fun to make. The only thing is it takes forever, because there’s a fine line between a cookie that’s ready and one that’s too soft. You really have to soak one cookie at a time – or at least I do. I place the cookies in a flower pattern, usually, because it’s my favorite, but you could make all kinds of shapes and really have fun with it.
As for kitchen experiments, check this out:
Hmm… I want to say making a rue, but that involves the HOB, so might pay for when they’re old enough to not burn themselves.
But I think making a rue is a big one. Once you make a rue, you can make pretty much any kind of sauce or gravy you want, to any consistency you want. It’s a very cool skill to have in the toolbox.
There’s a sciencey understanding to be had as to why you have to cook a rue for a while before thinning it with milk or water. You have to let the molecules of the flour break down and become smooth and runny – because if you don’t, the rue will be grainy or even lumpy.
There’s also a sciencey lesson to have in mixing a rue regarding state-changes. You have to add the milk/water to the rue very slowly – because the change in transition between ‘thick and creamy’, ‘just right’, and ‘thin and runny’ is very, very narrow. Good staging board for explaining the transitions from solid to liquid to gas (to plasma).
Chicken roasted on a bed of onions and garlic.
And yes, potatoes in goose fat; served with a sprinkle of garlic powder.
My favorite dinner? Cream of roasted tomato soup with sour dough bread. Maybe a nice chardonnay to go with. Chocolate ice cream for dessert. Who said vegetarian had to be healthy? :-)
That’s “roux”, Daniel.
When the Offspring [who is now a chef] was little, I let him sit on the kitchen counter and smell all the herbs and spices. He wrote about that in an essay when he applied to culinary school. I was floored that he remembered – that happened when he was around 3.
I think some of his first cooking experiences involved making spaghetti. Rolling meatballs is not unlike rolling clay; small children excel at it. He also made cookies and bread – again, small kids like pounding on elastic substances [bread dough] and cutting out cookies [especially with dinosaur cutters]. They are usually proudproudproud when what they made is served to the rest of the family, even if it’s only a PB&J sandwich.
This is a great site:
Oh boy. A thread about cooking? I’ll try to control myself.
My mom was a horrible cook. She still is. I don’t know how to explain it, I think she either has no taste buds or just views food as fuel. She can eat the same thing for a month and be perfectly happy. I grew up on a farm, with our own chickens, pigs, beef cows, and a huge garden. My two sisters and I had to care for the animals and work in the garden. We participated in the butchering of critters, the canning of vegetables, the whole bit. The idea of all that fresh produce and lovingly raised and carefully butchered meat at my fingertips makes me hunger for a life I’ll never have again, and mourn all the limp, overcooked vegetables, and gray, overcooked pan fried meat that could have been so much better. I remember when someone asked me (at age 8 or so) what my family was having for dinner. They were having meatloaf, and I was envious beyond belief, because I was just having, (sigh) steak. I started learning how to cook in college, and have tried to pick up whatever I could from friends and girlfriends and whomever else throughout my life.
I love food. I love to cook. I love cookbooks. I really love sites like epicurious, and various food blogs, that I find through stumbleupon.
If I ever reproduce (at this point, very unlikely) I have sworn to teach my offspring how to cook, if for no other reason, to spare them the months of ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches I ate in those first years of college. I would teach that kid what can be done with a sack of potatoes, onions, and a handful of indian spices. Awesome curried potatoes. And so cheap. The science of cooking? Well, I know it’s there, but I mostly think about the autonomy, the good living, the economy, that can be had by just knowing a little about cooking. The great time you can have, no matter how poor, with a few simple ingredients and a cheap bottle of wine.
I am currently working my way through “All about Braising” by Molly Stevens. I’ve made amazing dishes with some pretty inexpensive ingredients from that book. And when I’m feeling flush? Beef wellington with a madeira mushroom sauce and gorgonzola cheese, hasselback potatoes, grilled asparagus marinated in meyer lemon juice and red pepper, and bananas foster for dessert.
@russellsugden: You got me thinking and distractedâ€¦, an all too easy thing to accomplish. Apparently quack and honk smoke/cook at the same temp. I knew you could go really hot with peanut oil but was amazed to see how hot you can cook with safflower oil.
I mostly get taught how to cook by kids, rather than the other way around.
Tomatoes a la Josh:
Cut a pit in the tops of small tomatoes about 1/2″ (1 cm) in diameter and equally deep, removing the base of the stem
Cut cubes of Mozzarella cheese to fit the holes.
Wrap a whole small basil leaf around each cube of Mozz and stuff in hole.
Douse with balsamic vinegar.
— Invented by my 8 year old neighbor.
My niece (then 4) offered to teach me how to make spaghetti bolognese, but that was 4 years ago and she hasn’t come through yet.
I love to cook with my children (except when I need to finish quickly…). Muffins of all types work really well for us for some reason.
We invested in something called a “Learning Tower” which is expensive, but allows even tinies to stand at the counter in relative safety.
Favorite dinner recipe: sweet potato quesadillas from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home book.
@Anthropologist Underground: Yup, muffins are one of the 1st things my Mom taught us to make. I remember once getting a package of Jiffy muffin mix in my Christmas stocking :-)
I enjoy cooking. One of my favorite things is to be in the kitchen chating with people while I make a meal. I learned to cook in college to avoid starving to death. I was so poor that I couldn’t afford McDonalds anymore.
I am a big fan of baked mac and cheese. I like to use smoked chedddar with ham and chipotles.
I really enjoy baking. Bread, bagles, pretzles, biscuits, pie, cake, cookies, pizza dough, love that smell of yeast raised dough and the wonderful smell of the baking.
I am teaching all of the kids to cook. I’ve told the boys that if they can make a tasty meal it will impress the ladies and save them a ton of money on dates.
Cassendra is getting into baking. I taught her how to make a pie one time and she had it down. The next day she made one on her own.
If you haven’t picked up McGee’s On Food and Cooking, then do so. Baking would be the safest with kids, since it doesn’t involve the stove or knives (for the most part). With McGee as a reference, you can introduce the kids to cakes, cookies, and pastries, et al, as well as introducing them to the reasons foods behave the way they do. Knowing why something works (and more importantly, why something goes horribly wrong) makes cooking that much more enjoyable. This would also lay a foundation for skeptically investigating traditional kitchen wisdom (i.e. searing meat seals in the juices).
As far as a favorite meal, braised veal cheeks with cauliflower over polenta, fresh creamy calves liver, pan fried chicken with collards cooked in duck fat, or pear, gorgonzola, and hazelnut risotto.
@James Fox: You know, I’ve noticed you discuss slow-cooked pork enough here that when I eventually get to the other side of the country to visit relatives in Seattle, I’ll be sorely tempted to arrive at your door with a bottle of single malt demanding food. You’ve made me hungry several times. That also reminds me that I’m making a pig’s foot cassoulet tomorrow and need to get some things on the stove tonight.
I can’t believe no one has mentioned this. I would love to pass down my “skill” of thinking critically.. I can’t say it’s “self-learned,” since I think my dad really helped with that one. But, regardless, I think he is on the right course.
And kid safe stuff, would include all the mixing and kneading of doughs and pasta doughs. Of course, the decorating part of cookies and cupcakes. I bet Spencer could even help you do that now!
I think the first thing I ever learned to make was “dirt pudding.” You know, chocolate pudding, with crushed up Oreos at the bottom, and gummy worms stuck in it.
My mom has her own cake making business, but for some reason, I’m terrified of baking, and can’t do much more than bake boxed brownies. However, my favorite food, Thai style curry chicken gets made with Jasmine rice almost weekly!
@junco: could you maybe recommend some good food blogs?
My mother taught me to knit and crochet. I had a hard time knitting until I taught myself to knit UK style. Now I enjoy it very much.
My mother also taught me how to cook, but she didn’t use recipes. She just knew how to make things, and that’s how I learned to cook. In the last 21 years, since I’ve been married, I’ve made plenty of meals from recipes. My husband loves that he can come up with something that he wants for dinner, and I can look up a recipe and make it. We are both vegetarians and I can make most types of meat dishes, using store bought or home made substitutes, and our meat eating friends like them too. I think my favorite dinner, right now, would be Hoho Meatloaf. I found a new meat sub. that makes it so yummy. I know, meatloaf, big deal, but we love it.
1 lb package Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
1 can Progresso Tomato Basil soup
1 small onion, diced
2 cups Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
parchment or waxed paper.
Using a rolling pin, roll the Gimme Lean, between two pieces of parchment paper, in to a rectangle, about 1/4″ thick. This will later be rolled up “jellyroll style”.
Remove the top layer of parchment. Sprinkle onion and cheese over the Gimme Lean, being careful to leave 1″ on both long ends and one short end unsprinkled. You will need them clean for sealing.
Using the bottom piece of parchment fold over the short end that is sprinkled about 1/4 to 1/2″ and continue rolling (trying to keep a tight roll) to the other end. Roll the Hoho in the parchment paper so it’s like a tight tube, and tuck the ends of the Gimme Lean in to seal in all the cheese and onions.
Remove the parchment paper and place, seam side down, in a wide bread pan, or an 8×8. Pour the tomato soup over top and bake in a 350*F oven for 40 minutes.
P.S. My husband suggested that, as a self taught skill, I could write about oral sex. I laughed and said, that’s not really something you teach your daughter in the kitchen. He said, in his best girly voice “Honey, grab a pickle and follow me. Aw Mom, not again!”.
We’ve taught our two girls to cook. An eminently practical, useful skill. If you want to know some of the science behind cooking, watch *Good Eats*
Fudge made with just sugar will crystallize into a gritty mess when cooled. Corn syrup provides sugars with different structures, which don’t fit properly into the crystal lattice and prevent crystallization.
Measure the temperature of the water as it’s heated. It will reach 100 C and stay there; it doesn’t get any hotter.
Contrary to popular belief, salted water used for cooking pasta doesn’t cook it any faster than unsalted water. One tablespoon of salt in a gallon of water boils less than 0.1 deg higher than plain water–insignificant.
When pancakes are made with (acidic) buttermilk, you cut back on the baking powder, but add a bit of (basic) baking soda to take its place.
Easy lasagna: Beat an egg, mix with a 12 oz carton of ricotta. In a 6×10 pan layer a cup of jarred pasta sauce, two *uncooked* lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta, then sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, finish with sauce. Cover tightly with foil, bake at 350 F for about 75 min. Remove foil, top with shredded mozzarella, bake uncovered another 15 min or so. Allow to stand 10 min before cutting.
@Trotter Jelly: Hmmm, never cooked trotters before, sounds like fun! I have plans to master lamb shanks this fall, but summer is more about Tapas types of dishes for us. I have been learning how to cook with different sizes of Dutch Ovens with charcoal briquettes while we camp the last two summers so that’s been my slow cooking summer fun.
Of course, the day I post this AI is the day my husband is surprised by late night overtime, which means I ate cold Chinese food. *Sigh*
But I’m very much looking forward to trying your suggestions! :)
@Curious Chloride: I’m not a devotee of any particular site, I just skim around the internet and save any recipe that sounds good. Sometimes, though, I hit on a site that is featuring a recipe that speaks to me right at that moment and I have to run out and buy the ingredients. Here are a few places to look.
Epicurious is a good website, it’s my go to for any quick research, if I want a quick recipe for Bechamel or Bearnaise, or just if I’m trying to figure out something different to try with whatever is in the cupboards or fridge. You can type in the ingredients you have and it will generate recipes.
foodgawker is something like an aggregator, you click on a picture and it takes you to whatever site that recipe came from. You can quickly find many different sites, particularly their “favorites” page.
Broke Ass Gourmet
Francis Lam’s column at Salon.com has got some good recipes
When I configured stumbleupon I selected cooking as one of my interests, so I get lots of cooking websites and blogs along with all the astronomy and history type stuff. It’s an interesting mix.
Depending how old the children are, they might get a kick out of this experiment.
1) Take a seedless grape and cut it in half lengthwise, being careful to leave a small piece of skin attached.
2) Place spread out, cut side down in the middle of a microwave safe plate.
3) Place in the middle of the microwave and set to 40 seconds on high.
4) Press start and wait for the light show.
Very impressive for a toddler, even more so for a frat boy. :)
@mrmisconception: Forgot to mention, it needs to be a green grape.
I remember trying to cook with a pair of little boys on either side of me (later it was a little boy and little girl as bigger boy got busier). There was always great interest in the making of cookies.
When my oldest boy was in scouts I did a couple of kitchen things with his very little troop. I took cream and turned some into whipped cream, and the other part into butter (which is what happens when you whip warm cream!). Then we made bread with yeast, learning about the yeasty beasties and gluten.
When I make homemade pizza, each child puts the toppings of their choice on the pizza (oldest boy puts lettuce on!). You must get “The Great Chicago Style Pizza” book by Pascuale Bruno. I triple the spinach stuff pizza dough, make one large stuffed pizza and three in cake pans to be frozen, plus have dough leftover for three kid pizzas.
My favorite family dinner is barbecued meatballs because it is made by my husband.
@James Fox: Playing with Dutch ovens and charcoal sounds like a lot of fun. Makes me wish I had someplace to cook outdoors. I tend to be drawn to big, rich dishes year round, but most of the summer is light pasta dishes or the occasional variety meats that pop up at the grocery store.
Lamb shanks are fun. Have you tried doing rabbit leg “lollipops”? Basically, you scrape the meat from the bone except for the end. You can then pull the meat over the end of the bone to form a ball that will hold it’s shape after searing. Then braise them. If you’re feeling adventurous you can break the bone in half with the back of a knife, but if you don’t hit it right, the bone will splinter (I’ve never been that good at it myself). The presentation is better with less of a stick. The dish is whimsical enough that kids might really enjoy it, or they might just be horrified that dinner involves dead bunny.
I have no cooking skills to pass on, which is okay, ’cause I also have no kids (and don’t want ’em).
However, I recently became a landlord and now have a bunch of students as tenants. I pass on bits of wisdom to them, such as to save old toothbrushes, ’cause they’re useful for cleaning in and around cracks. Or, unplug charging stations when they’re no longer needed, ’cause they drain more electricity than you might think. I’m a wealth of middle-age info.
(Non-culinary) skills to teach:
How to fix stuff around the house. How to clean stuff around the house.
How to approach (or why not to approach) various animals. (Also, what not to feed the dog/cat.)
How to recognize and resist scams and pressure tactics.
Budgeting and keeping track of money.
Older kids should learn how to research and look things up. These days, that include how to use Google and recognize bogus hits and fake info.
My cooking style takes after my mother — much more experimental than recipe-based. Still, I’d say that baking bread is a wonderful thing to teach kids. And certainly, you should teach them how to make whatever the staples are for your family cuisine — chicken soup, tomato sauce, dumplings, etc..
I’m with Daniel in that teaching kids to properly make a roux is invaluable; with just a few simple, cheap ingredients, you have the foundation for everything from giblet gravy to mac & cheese to creamed tuna on toast, not to mention an opportunity for the kids to learn to trust their own eyes and noses.
My mom was bigger on the “whys” than the “hows”; this is why you add a pinch of salt to sweet foods, why you use a zig-zag stitch on stretchy fabric, why you draft a pattern and make a linen or cardboard mockup before you cut pieces. When I moved out, she gave me a heavy frying pan, a stock pot, a good sewing kit, and a Gerber multitool. Between the tools and the practical skillset, I’ve often been momentarily uncertain, but never helpless, and I hope to someday lay that same foundation for my children.
Favorite dinner; Vaguely Asian Mustard Greens
Toast about a tablespoon of sesame seeds; set aside. Heat a little sesame oil just to smoking and add a bundle of chopped, rinsed mustard greens, plus about 1/4 cup of water if you did the responsible thing and rinsed the greens ahead of time. Flip and saute until wilted, then add a tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of mirin, a teaspoon each of sugar and sake and at least a teaspoon of minced garlic. Bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes, but preferably at least 45. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice. Good with broiled fish or shrimp, roasted chicken, or just about any kind of pork, but just fine by itself. (And yes, those’re fairly standard teriyaki proportions, but don’t expect this to taste like teriyaki!)
@Tina: Actually, I said it in comment 16 but it could be said twice.
I don’t/won’t have kids myself, but I do have kids in my life.
Allow me to brag about my niece: she’s 12 and loves to learn things. She knows how to change the oil in her father’s car–he just needs to do the wrench work. She can catch and fillet a fish. She can give shots to a cat.
She spent a week with me, and we had a blast. We did a fair amount of cooking. We made baklava (which was on her list of Things to Do with Aunt Cat), mozzarella cheese, granola, and a Norwegian cream cake. We went through a LOT of dairy products that week! We didn’t get a chance to make jam because the weather was not conducive to berry picking.
She’s also learned a lot about Trap-Neuter-Return, and went cat-trapping with Uncle Furniture. She’s expressed an interest in being a vet someday…I hope so! But I know interests can change quickly.
I’ve taught her to knit, but it doesn’t seem to be her thing, which is fine. She already loves to read.
I just love that kid. :)
Here’s a great summertime recipe. Make mozzarella cheese–I use Ricki the Cheese Queen’s 30 minute Mozzarella recipe (http://www.cheesemaking.com/). Slice it. Slice fresh tomatoes. Rip up fresh basil. Arrange on plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt/pepper to taste. Eat with crusty whole grain bread. Moan with pleasure.
Oh, my bad! I missed that. I’m crafty, too. Definitely worthwhile skills!! Yay!
Plantain cake. A dish learned by my lithuanian grandmother from a Venezuelan woman and that seems easy to prepare but has its tricks:
3 or 4 ripped plantains (shall be almost black)
Shredded White Cheese, slightly salty (it has to be of latin american origin, Venezuelan, Colombian or Mexican)
1 or 2 eggs, milk and water.
Brown sugar or molasses
Fry the plantains in oil. The must get soft and brownish
Use the flour and eggs to prepare a mixture similar to the one used for crepes.
The brown sugar or the piece of raw sugar (panela de azucar or papelon in Spanish) shall be liquefied with water at low fire until it forms a slightly thick molasses.
In a recipient like the one used for lasagna, put a layer of plantains, crepe mixture, cheese, molasses, and repeat the layers until you get to the top.
Put in the owen at 350 F. In 30 minutes, or when the upper layer is lightly brown and crusty, it will be ready-
The art is getting the ingredients and temperature in a way that the cheese, sugar and wheat mixture form a layer similar to pasta.
The salty / lightly sweet layer in combination with the sweet plantains has been my favorite dinner since I was a child
(Regarding food to make with children)
My favorite easy-to-make item:
Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches
A loaf of White Bread
1 tsp dill
8oz Cream cheese
(reduce/adjust amounts as needed, this is enough for a small party tray)
Whip dill and cream cheese together, then chill in the fridge the night before. This’ll give the dill some time to seep into the cheese.
The next day, slice the cucumbers into 1/4″ (or 1cm) slices at the most.
Spread the cream cheese (not more than a tablespoon per slice is necessary) on one side of each bread.
On one piece of bread, lay out 4 or 5 cucumber rounds.
Press together gently, trim crusts, cut into attractive isosceles triangles, and enjoy!
I really like this recipe (if you want to even go so far as to call it that) because it’s so incredibly simple, and the cream cheese is heavy enough that it’s a good, thick medium for learning how to do bread spreads without dripping and glooping, and the cucumber slices are large and easy to place for little hands. It also introduces a vegetable in a way that is fresh and cool on the palette.
Instead of trimming crusts, we sometimes use cookie cutter shapes like hearts and stars. This may or may not be an excuse for the grown up to munch on the trimmings, too.
I liked this one with the cousins because it was something they could make at a very young age and bring it themselves to potlucks if they wanted to contribute something like the other adults.
Also, your post reminds me of this apron: Baking is Science For Hungry People
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