Parents – Teach Your Kids to Cook

November 17, 2017 at 07:38PMNot long ago our usually excellent (by that I mean distinctly average) meal planning plunged to a new depths. You know those days when all plans unravel and change. Well, on one such day I came home from work, just after 5pm, and was greeted with having to whip up a meal for the 6 of us. You know, just like that. I don’t mind, I love to cook.

But, throw into the mix it was a Thursday and the cupboard and fridge we low on stocks what would I cook? Easy, every dads best friend – pasta. I produced a beautiful, Michelin Star restaurant standard spaghetti carbonara in about 20 minutes. Onion, bacon, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese (or cheddar if like us you like your carbonara distinctly English), salkt, pepper and of course spaghetti. Simple.

This week the eldest (14) girl got to make us all a meal. It was chicken Kievs and chips. The Kievs were frozen but she did make her own oven chips (let’s call them Italian potatoes to give them an edge). It was a perfectly enjoyable and tasty meal. The following night it was the turn of the 13 year old. Now, I thought the plan was cottage pie (i.e. shepherds pie but made with beef mince instead). However, on getting home it was to be carbonara and I was making it. “Oh no I’m not,” I insisted in pantomime fashion. I set about instructing the 13 y/o how to make this simple, yet delightful meal. First, chop the bacon into small pieces…..this is where it went wrong.

After 10 or so minutes the bacon was still being chopped and the meal was still as far in the distance as England winning a world cup. I had to step in. So I helped (read took over). I diced the onions, chopped the garlic and got it all going in the pan. Put the spaghetti on and then showed her how to seperate the egg yolks. She grated the cheese and then when it was all ready I put it together. Kind of a team effort in the end I guess.

My point is I have failed as a parent here. I should have been teaching them these simple cooking skills for a while not and haven’t – probably because they show zero interest in learning them and you can teach somebody who doesn’t want to be taught. But I still have failed.

So, in a not-so-new-years-resolution style I am determined to show them how to cook simple, hearty, healthy, balanced, delicious meals from scratch and not simply removing a pizza from a box and putting it in the oven.

Nutty, seedy, fruit flapjack

For me flapjack is the ultimate energy food. Granted, if you look at the ingredients individually you could possibly cry at the calorific value. But, let’s face it, you’re never going to sit down to eat a 250g block of butter (although our dog once did) are you? Or eat 200g of soft brown sugar while watching Coronation Street? The fact is that it’s all about balance, and a slab of this flapjack would be great as a quick breakfast in a rush, or before a training run or ride (even great to take on a ride).

I tend to make it with whatever dried fruits we have to hand but my preferred mix is figs, dates and apricots but you can throw in any dried fruits that you fancy.

So here is what you’re going to need to make it:

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft, dark brown sugar
  • 4tbsp honey
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 50g mixed nuts (crushed to your own preferred texture)
  • 100g mixed dried fruits (if using large fruits such as figs then cut to you preferred size)
  • 300g rolled oats

And here is the method to make it:

  • Line a 30cm x 20cm baking tin with baking paper (tip: lightly grease the tin with butter first and the paper will stick nicely and save frustration later).
  • Pre-heat the oven at 150oC
  • Melt the butter, sugar and honey together in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Once melted take off the heat and stir.
  • Add the seeds, nuts, fruit and oats and mix well until the mixture is combined and consistent (make sure to get right to the bottom of the pan).
  • Put the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and press it down with the back of a metal spoon. Make sure you press is firmly into the corners of the tin and get it as level as you can.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes (bake for 45-50 if you like it really crunchy).
  • Remove it from the oven after baking and leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into slabs sizes of your choice.

And there you have it, my deliciously yummy nutty, seedy fruity flapjack. Enjoy!

Honey & Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars

I post a lot of photos (via Instagram) on here showing my home baking exploits. I don’t profess to be an expert but I thought it was time I started sharing some of these recipes. So here’s the first one.

These bars are great for kids lunch boxes or a quick snack. Yes, they contains sugar, and as with most foods you eat them as part of a balanced diet.


100g cups Rice Krispies
170g honey
125 g peanut butter (ideally crunchy with no added sugar)
100g milk chocolate (optional)

50g sultana or raisins (optional)

½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)


1) Line a 8×8 inch backing tin with grease-proof paper (*tip: grease the tin first then the paper stick in nicely)
2) Heat the honey and peanut butter in a pan over a moderate heat until they have combined and slightly bubbling
3) Stir in the Rice Krispies. Be gentle and you really don’t want to pound them into a dust! If using the dried fruit add that now and continue to mix.
4) Once the Rice Krispies (and dried fruit if using) have combined with the honey and peanut butter mixture transfer them to the pre-prepared baking tin. Using a spatula, gently press the mixture into the corners and firm it down.
5) If topping with chocolate melt this in a microwave proof bowl for 90 seconds and spread over the top of the firms down mixture in the tin.
6) Allow the tine to cool for 15 minutes then transfer to the fridge for around an hour before removing from the tray and slicing. This method produces 12 good sized bars.

Organic cooking of a different kind

So we’ve just eaten a fish stew I hastily put together using various frozen vegetables, frozen fish, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some herbs.

It was absolutely delicious, amazing and beautiful. Helen could eat it again and loved it. That’s the problem. My cooking method is one that avoids recipes and you could say I make it up as I go along – in a sense is an organic process.

I somehow have to repeat this…