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edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

PRESERVATIONIST HOMEMADE POPTARTS Empowering children to cook—even their own “junk food” —is good for everyone BY JORDAN CHAMPAGNE PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARGAUX GIBBONS AND MICHELLE MAGDALENA 44 edible MONTEREY BAY WINTER 2016 “Eat all the junk food that you want as long as you make it yourself.” is is food rule number 39 from Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules, and it is a favorite with the kids I know. I use the book as a guide and conversation starter with the youngsters in the cooking workshops I teach as the author has simple and practical advice on what kind of food is healthy to eat. Because eating is essential, engaging children in cooking comes naturally and can be rewarding for everyone involved. Cooking can seem burdensome as lots of us are busy, but many children—whether our own kids or our nieces, nephews, grandchildren or friends’ kids—would love to share in this task if we would only let them. In my experience, kids are eager to work with “dangerous” knives and interesting kitchen appliances. We simply need to teach them the skills to do so safely. After working with hundreds of kids of all ages, the biggest injury I have seen has been a small cut from a knife or grater. Taking a cue from Food Rules, one of my favorite culinary projects at the kids’ culinary camps we hold at Happy Girl Kitchen is making Pop-Tarts from scratch. We start by travelling to Lonely Mountain Farm in Corralitos to harvest strawberries and macerate them in sugar and lemon juice right there before we leave. is may seem like an involved process for making a simple pastry, but you can always use jam you’ve made previously with your children. (One of the wonderful benefits of making preserves is having them at your fingertips to turn into other wonderful treats.) We let the strawberries sit overnight to take a break. e next morning we start the jam cooking while we make our crust. e children have great fun rolling out the dough. We encourage them to stray from the classic rectangular shape and, instead, cut out hearts, circles, ovals and creative shapes. But the real highlight is making the frosting. Once, my young students started to ask about making different colored frostings, and I said, “Yes, let’s try to make it pink with Photo at top by Michelle Magdalena, photos at bottom by Margaux Gibbons Kid cooks in action: clockwise from lower right, Champagne’s daughter Jaya Sri picking out her vegetables, small hands preparing pasta and another group tasting what they’ve baked—homemade Pop-Tarts.


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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