It never fails to horrify me, (and it’s a fact I bore people with over and over again), that when Bee went to university, she was the only person in her flat of eight people who knew how to use a washing machine.
It was the same with food. While her flatmates were trying to get their heads around the idea of cooking pasta and heating up a sauce at the same time, Bee was organising her tea drawer and fine tuning recipes for her food blog. I’d like to take full credit for this, and say that it was all part of a long term plan to help her develop basic life skills and a strong sense of independence, but I suspect the reality was just that I got bored of doing her washing and making packed lunches, and so she had to learn how.
Belle isn’t quite as forthcoming in the laundry department. I think there’s a part of me that’s doing that cliched thing of keeping your littlest baby a baby for as long as possible, and although I’ve never felt hugely maternal in a ‘Oh look at her in her school uniform!’ sort of a way, I do, especially as I get older, have a habit of wanting to potter around behind everybody, fetching them things and tidying up after them.
Belle does enjoy cooking though, and I know that I should exploit this. Mainly she likes to make sweet things – she makes a mean chewy cookie – and I tend to let her get on with it, seeing it as something for her to do while I work/water my plant babies, rather than a family activity. I know she likes it when I get involved though, especially when I do the bits she doesn’t like, like spooning batter into cake cases, and I should make more of this, and do more proper* cooking with her.
She did whip up this savoury treat when we were on holiday recently:
*Cue smooth lead into my latest brand partnership*
Uncle Ben’s have cottoned on to the importance of equipping kids with these kind of basic skills, and in the run up to International Cook With Your Kids Day on October 15th, they’ve set up Ben’s Beginners. The mission of Ben’s Beginners is ‘to get kids to cook as well as they can read and write. Why? Because when kids learn to cook, they develop healthier eating habits that last a lifetime.’ Research shows that families that cook together and eat together enjoy significant health benefits as a result. The simple act of involving children in the cooking process teaches them valuable skills, helps them lead a healthier life, and brings families together.
This is so true. We focus on SATS and GCSEs and A-level results, but what’s the point of investing all of this time and energy into academic skills, if they arrive at university unable to make so much as a bowl of carbonara? These are basic skills guys. So pay attention.
Ben’s Beginners Digital Hub
The Ben’s Beginners Digital Hub is a fun way for parents to teach children the basics of cooking, through simple, tasty recipes.
- Each lesson is made up of a combination of interactive learning activities and recipes.
- Earn badges for completing each lesson. (I love a badge.)
- Learn skills like stirring, chopping, pouring, peeling and measuring.
- Cook recipes together like Black Bean and Rice Open-Faced Tacos, Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Getting involved is simple – just get cooking. Belle and I had a go at Black Bean & Rice Open Tacos to get you in the mood.
I chose these to start with as there is so much flexibility in the recipe – you can add in anything you fancy really, on top of the basics. You’ll need a 250g pack of Uncle Ben’s® Mexican Style Express Rice® and six small tortillas, and then add in black beans, sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes, cheese, avocado – the world is your lobster. (The recipe is here if you’re not one for experimentation.) We added some chopped up cucumber and a blob of soft cheese. The whole thing was a bit of a revelation, as we discovered Belle actually quite likes black beans! Who knew?
- Start by using an upside down muffin tray or cake tin to form the six tortillas into bowl shapes, nestling them between the cake indents. (Hint: if you find this tricky, you can use oven proof mugs or cups to shape your tortillas, or just leave them and have wraps!)
- Bake them at 190 degrees for 10-15 minutes until they are crispy and hold their shape.
- Cook up the Uncle Ben’s rice according the instructions and add in the rest of your ingredients.
- Give everything a good stir, and then divide up between the tortilla bowls.
- Sprinkle with cheese and anything else that takes your fancy.
Once you’ve created your recipe, share it for the world to see with the hashtag #LookWhatWeMade. (Because what’s the point of spending all that time being a good parent if you can claim the kudos for it online?)
Before you get started, why not check out some of the tips below? You can also find out more about the full range of Uncle Ben’s products, including nutritional information, here.
Do you find your children are keen to get involved in cooking? Do you have any favourite family recipes that you cook together?
*Baking is proper cooking of course, it’s just that she won’t be able to life off chewy cookies at university. Not every day at least.