cooking (with little people)

We have done a lot of happy mama + toddler cooking lately... I must confess, up until recently I've found cooking with this little person quite challenging. It is just so much easier to cook alongside him while he does something else like run about wildly or race cars or read books... But when he's pulled a chair up to "help mama" there is sure to be cream splatters, washing up water on the floor, raw egg finger-tested... It's also that I find it difficult to change my pace - to slooow down - and be patient for him to stir and grate! This is not always possible, but in the past few weeks I have made a decided effort to prepare a meal everyday with him. Oh, and let messes happen!

So far we've made banana ice-cream, sushi rolls, salad, orange juice jelly, shortbread, green bean salad, omelette and guacamole. Sushi is especially wonderful and tactile - fingers spreading out rice - cutting fillings - rolling up the seaweed (which the little cook would rather eat just plain by itself). I am amazed that these tiny hands are nimble enough to whisk and even, with careful guidance, slice green beans!

My love of cooking started at a young age - when I was about four or five. I am so glad for the encouragement and opportunity my mum gave me so I would feel comfortable in the kitchen preparing edible (and inedible) meals and learning one of life's great skills - making wholesome food for yourself and others.

Let's be brave and encourage the same in our little ones...

~Real banana ice-cream ~

5 free-range egg yolks
1 litre full-cream milk (we use raw)
1/2 cup cane sugar or honey
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Prepare the custard by heating milk in a saucepan on a low heat until just below boiling. Meanwhile whisk egg yolks and sugar in a jug or bowl. Pour in warm milk and whisk vinously - then tip back into saucepan. Continue to heat and stir custard until set (when the back of a wooden spoon stays coated with mixture). Cool. Stir in mashed banana, spice and vanilla. Freeze in a ice-cream machine or (as we do) pour into popsicle moulds. 

~Gluten-free sushi rice ~

Its funny to put the "gluten-free" in the title but most store-bought sushi is not free from gluten - despite being rice based, the vinegar often contains wheat or grain alcohol and the mayonnaise most certainly does. It is so easy to make your own sushi rice though! 

2 cups short grain sushi rice (will make about 6 rolls)
2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar (rice wine vinegar is perfect)
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt

Soak rice for a few hours in tepid water and rinse thoroughly. Combine rice and water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer with the lid off for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile in a small saucepan bring vinegar, sugar and salt to the boil. Stir till dissolved and remove from heat to cool.

Spoon rice out into a long baking dish (I like using a ceramic or glass one) - then sprinkle rice with vinegar mixture, turn it over carefully without squishing the rice, fanning the steam as you go. I use the packet of seaweed nori sheets for this - but a real paper fan would be better. You want the rice to look shiny but not "slimy" with vinegar so just add a little at a time. Cover with a damp tea towel while you get your sushi fillings ready. 

Roll sushi rolls by hand or using a mat and fill with whatever you feel like - we love combinations of slices of avocado, cooked egg omelette, cucumber, lettuce, tamari chicken, smoked salmon, tined fish - all delicious with a delicious smear of wasabi and tamari sauce (gluten free soy sauce).