Camp Mama: Junior Chef

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


My older boys are aged 9 and 11. They can (and do) prepare some basic foods, but they’re definitely old enough to learn some new skills in the kitchen. When I was 9, I was a little chef as I was independently baking all the cookies I wanted. Suddenly toast doesn’t seem quite so impressive … So this last week for Camp Mama we focused on legitimate cooking skills as well as expanding our horizons and playing around with food.

Monday: Three Course Meal with Raddish

This was the easiest day of the week for me. Armed with a box from Raddish Kids, a subscription service that sends monthly recipes and utensils to your children, we tasked all six of the big kids from our two families with a job. We paired them off with two making the salad and dressing, two making the pasta, and two on dessert. The recipes were brilliantly laid out. Each card is a trifold pamphlet that is laminated for durability, includes an illustration for each minute step along the way, and highlights the science within each food project. SO COOL! chef raddish kids
The children did all the prep and cooking. They were supervised, of course, but they cut and cooked and everything. What did they make?

Chef prep
Six kids cutting, prepping, whisking, folding, creating a fabulous meal thanks to the Raddish kit!

We started with a delicious garden salad and homemade salad dressing. We followed with a one-pot pasta primavera that made one of our young chefs so pleased and proud he couldn’t stop telling his father that night about this amazing thing that HE COOKED and HE WILL COOK FOR THE FAMILY AGAIN. We topped off this feast with a chocolate mouse. Yes, our 8 and 9 year old boys made a chocolate mouse. And I confess, when I read that recipe I immediately thought “there’s no way that will work — the chocolate will seize, this is impossible.” I was wrong! It worked and it was delicious and we inhaled it before anyone thought to snap a photo. So a couple of days later my 9 year old made it at home for Daddy. And whaddaya know? It still worked (and I’m still in awe) and again was inhaled before we got a photo. So you’re just going to have to take my word on this one, it was delicious.
Monday afternoon we also set up for making our own rock candy, again from the Raddish box, which we were to eat within a few days. Our Raddish kit also included some other fun items, including conversation starters to encourage interacting at the table. Our brood didn’t need any help in this regard but I plan to keep these cards handy for those school nights when we’re all zoning out a little.
Read to the end of the post for an exclusive coupon code from Raddish!

Tuesday: Taco (Salad) Tuesday

When planning Camp Mama I thought our cooking week would be independent from our friends, for logistic reasons. My friend said, “Why? I have a big kitchen, and I’ve got it all figured out so even the baby can help.” No kidding. Down to putting tortilla chips in a bag for him to crush up, everyone (except the Mums!) had a hand in preparing our taco salads.

chef solar panels
Cook your own pizza in a pizza box!

Wednesday: Solar Cooking
We upcycled pizza boxes and made them into solar ovens following the instructions over at Scientific American. Then we made personal pizzas and cooked our pizzas in our pizza boxes. Now I will admit that we cheated a tad and pre-cooked the crusts a little, even so I wasn’t convinced it would work. It did! No, of course it wasn’t the same as cooking it in a wood-burning oven at 500+ degrees, but there’s nothing gourmet about kids making their own pizzas anyway. The kids were elated that the project worked. So we celebrated by making s’mores in the solar ovens for dessert. While waiting for our meal to cook we harnessed the power of the sun to do a little wood burning with magnifying glasses which quickly turned into “let’s burn this dry leaf!” (But “don’t worry, Mum, we’ve got a cup of water here for the flames…”)

Thursday: Ham Cups

Ham cups are a pretty easy food for kids to make for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. We didn’t follow a formal recipe here, instead just estimating half an egg per cup. We sauteed onions, tossed in cheese, and filled the rest of the cup with an egg/milk/salt/pepper mixture similar to the one we use for scrambled eggs. Quick, easy, and delicious! Then we used the eggshells for strength tests. We placed four evenly-sized eggshells in a rectangle, mounds up, and carefully one at a time placed heavy hardcover textbooks atop. Because of the brilliant design of eggshells those delicate little things can withstand a lot of pressure!

chef grocery store
Waaaay too much fun in the produce aisle!

Friday: Challenge Day!

Field Trip Friday started at the local Asian market. We assigned each child (and Mum!) to find a fruit or vegetable unfamiliar that we would take home and figure out how to prepare and eat. It was so much fun! We found some new favorites and expanded our horizons! The rule back at the house was that everyone had to try everything but that it was okay if they didn’t love it.

Rambutan, sugar cane, banana blossoms, quince, horned melon, lychee, donut peaches, and more — oh my!

We also picked up some sushi, which everyone loves, to round out the meal in case the challenge foods weren’t a hit.
After lunch we tested out the exploding watermelon trick wherein you place hundreds of rubber bands around the circumference of a watermelon until it explodes. We had misplaced one of the packages of bands so we followed some advice to score the watermelon a little first. In the end we concluded that scoring it deprived us of a more dramatic explosion. It worked but not to the degree we were hoping so we will try it again with more rubber bands and no knives.
We finally got back to our rock candies, where the crystalization process was threatening to take over the jars completely. Some of them came out intact, some did not. Not a single child has complained that their rock candy was or was not on the stick and they are happily chipping away at the hardened sugar on the glass jars.
We had also planned to prep an oatmeal casserole to eat this weekend for breakfast but between looking up tutorials on all our new foods and encasing a watermelon with hundreds of rubber bands, we ran out of time.

Junior Chef was such a fun week! The kids feel more empowered to cook and I feel more comfortable letting them loose. Not all of my recipes are laminated like the Raddish ones, so I have a feeling my kids are going to have those memorized from all the extra use.


Previous Camp Mama themes: Greek Week and France.


Raddish Kids has graciously offered 50% off your first kit, valid on 6 or 12 month subscriptions!

Use Coupon Code BLOSSOMS50 at checkout.

~expires 8/1/2016~

I received this kit free of charge for the purpose of this review.
This has in no way affected my opinion.
The opinions presented in this post are mine and have been written in my own words.

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