A few months ago on Facebook, a friend of mine posted about how her son was given an assignment at school to cook an entire meal for his family. I don’t know what his teacher’s objective was in giving this assignment, but as I read this post, I thought it was a great exercise to help kids gain some gratitude for all their parents do for them.
I put it on my list of things to do around here. And the opportunity presented itself a few weekends back.
When the kids woke up on Saturday morning, they found me sitting on the sofa, sipping a cup of coffee, and flipping through a magazine. When they asked what was for breakfast, I said,
“Good question. You tell me!”
And then I explained what we were doing.
My kids (youngest excluded) chose french toast for the meal they would prepare. The recipe they used is one that I had seen on The Kitchen, a TV show on Food Network (I LOVE Food Network. It is my Saturday morning television addiction). I had experimented with this recipe during the prior school week. It was a huge hit, and they wanted to have it again.
So I sat at the kitchen counter, continued sipping my coffee, and read the recipe to them while they did the work.
What a nice change of pace!
They pulled all the ingredients from the cabinets.
They measured the ingredients and prepared the homemade fruit topping.
They blended the ingredients to dredge the bread in.
They dredged the bread and put it in a skillet on the stove.
And this was the finished product.
It was delicious! Made even more so for the fact that I didn’t cook it! They have made this breakfast for our family twice since then. And, having gained some confidence in the kitchen, they’ve also tackled scrambled eggs on several school mornings. What a load off for us!
I loved this exercise for several reasons.
First, they definitely have a better grasp of all it takes to put a yummy meal on the table. This will pay dividends in the gratitude department from now on. And when they forget? They can cook again.
Second, they learned how to follow a recipe, practice their fractions, and use some of our kitchen appliances. I believe this will lead to a love of cooking down the road, something Kory and I truly enjoy doing together and something we can envision doing as a family for many years to come.
Third, we talked about substitutions that can be done to make a recipe healthier. I’m not a fanatic in this department, and I use my share of indulgences when cooking on special occasions or for a crowd, but day-to-day, I substitute lighter and leaner products regularly.
With respect to this third point, I love this recipe for french toast, particularly after I tweaked it (adjustments shown below) because it doesn’t call for bottled syrup. The syrup comes from cooking the fresh or frozen berries or peaches on the stove. As a result, it’s a lighter version of the classic, and I can control the amount of sugar to my satisfaction. This is always a good idea, but now, I feel OK about serving this meal on a school morning.
Ingredients for Toast:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk (we used rice milk)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons salted butter
8 slices basic white bread (we used organic, 100% whole wheat bread)
Strawberry Syrup for serving, recipe follows
Ingredients for Strawberry Syrup:
1 cup sliced strawberries (we doubled this, didn’t slice them, and broke them down with a wooden spoon once warmed through)
1/2 cup sugar (we substituted Blue Agave and cut this in half)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions for Strawberry Syrup:
Place the strawberries, sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water into a wide saucepan or skillet large enough to hold the strawberries in a single layer. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook gently until the strawberries are very soft and ruby red in color throughout., but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes .
Serve warm over French toast or on the side at the table.
Cook Notes: The berries are also good the next day chilled on buttered toast.
You can substitute peaches, blueberries or other ripe fruit; you might want to adjust sugar, based on the sweetness of the ripe fruit itself.
Directions for Toast:
Crack the eggs into a blender and add the milk and cinnamon. Blend until the yolks and whites are incorporated. (This step can be accomplished in a shallow dish with a whisk or fork as well.) Pour the mixture into a shallow dish or wide-bottom bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and swirl it around the pan; when melted, place 1 piece of bread in the egg mixture to soak in for about 10 seconds. Turn over and let soak on other side. This is a quick process don’t let bread soak too long as it will get too soggy. Drain off excess egg and place the bread in the hot pan. Immediately soak 3 more bread slices, taking care not to over-crowd the pan.
Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side.
Repeat with remaining butter and bread slices. Serve with Strawberry Syrup spooned over or on the side at the table.
Do your kids cook? Do you have any recipes that they have learned to make regularly for your family? If so, please share!