8Undoubtedly, a time will come this summer when the sun doesn't shine and swimming pools no longer interest young children out of school. You'll be looking for a new source of entertainment to get them through the long summer days.
That may be the perfect time to turn to the kitchen for a few basic cooking lessons. "Kinder-Krunchies," by Karen Jenkins (Discovery Toys, $7.98) gets children thinking seriously about the kitchen, while still being fun. Jenkins mixes cooking with a little reading, writing, arithmetic and basic nutrition.
Toddlers learn the alphabet and numerals, with dough recipes in which they are asked to make their initials or numbers. Older children practice basic multiplication, division and use of fractions simply by cutting or doubling recipes. The recipes stress using fresh fruits and vegetables and there isn't a teaspoon of sugar to be found, though a few snacks are sweetened with honey or apple juice concentrate.
The spiral-bound, hand-printed book also challenges users to explore the questions of how certain ingredients work in food and how some of our everyday foods are produced. Children make butter, for example, by shaking a tablespoon of whipping cream in a baby food jar (it takes two children a total of 15 minutes, Jenkins said). Once the butter is finished children spread it on crackers and discuss with their parents the differences in taste and color between homemade and commercial butter and margarine, she said.
What's best about using the book for a summertime project is that parents can use it as often or as little as they like. The discussions are not meant to build upon one another and there are 56 recipes and discussion sections. The lessons can be held at set times throughout the summer or as the need arises. Consult the yellow pages for your nearest Discovery Toys agent to obtain a copy of the book.
Just to spark your interest, here is a quick lunch or light dinner of homemade Initial Crackers and Vegetable Soup. The recipes are followed by discussion questions from the book. Parents are expected to know the answers already or they should look them up in their favorite cookbooks. Provided you have butter and flour on hand, all you'll need from the Express Lane is:
EXPRESS LANE LIST: Carrots, potatoes, celery, green peppers, tomato juice, bouillon, garlic salt and sesame seeds. VEGETABLE SOUP (6 servings)
2 carrots, peeled
2 potatoes, peeled
2 stalks celery
2 green peppers, seeded and deveined
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
2 bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons butter
Wash all vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces and put in a big pot. Add water and tomato juice. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Add bouillon and butter and simmer 30 minutes more. What do you think? (choose discussion questions from the following):
Vegetable soup: Can you name the vegetables? What part of the plant is each vegetable? Taste some raw vegetables. How do they change when the soup cooks? What do boil and simmer mean? Which ingredient is a vegetable juice? If you had your own garden, which vegetable would you plant in it? INITIAL CRACKERS (6 to 8 servings)
1/2 cup flour
Pinch garlic salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons cold butter
2 tablespoons ice water
Mix flour, garlic salt and sesame seeds together. Cut in cold butter with fingers until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in ice water and mix to form a moist ball. Roll skinny snakes out of the dough and then shape into initials. Flatten a bit on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
What do you think? (Choose discussion questions from the following):
Initial Crackers: What are your initials? Your Mom's? Dad's? Smell the garlic salt. Taste the sesame seed. Why do we use cold butter and ice water? What would happen with warm water and warm butter? Describe what happens to your initials as they bake.