How to Cook Like a Chef!
When I grew up it was rare to have any friends who belonged to a blended family. Our parents toughed it out (maybe partially due to the laws around divorce). I am sure there were a few but if there was they would have just blended in not making any big deal about it. Today, it is so much more common and at the forefront of being quite complicated. It is not like when I grew up, we left the house and came back when the street lights came on (oh boy I am dating myself now). Today the co-curricular, after-school activities, birthday parties, team parties, class parties, homework clubs, cooking classes (you get the point) is exhausting just writing and reading this, and that's just for one kid. Then multiply this by six more children - it is like running for cover and hiding. We are like personal assistants for each and every one of them. Keeping track is a full-time job on top of our full-time jobs. I love every second of it but with seven kids it is a pretty big workload. It is not equally divided at all times, it actually changes on the children's situation and their needs, but it still exists. I am writing this at 10:13 pm on Sunday night because that is when I finished my day. We are fortunate enough to have help given it is impossible to drive all of our children to different places at the exact same start time, and even still, we are all running like a chicken with its head cut off. Luckily I like to be hands-on, and not just with the rewarding moments but the times it really matters - the chores if you want to call them that. If you can make those moments fun, I find this is the best way to bond with our children. One of my favourite things to get the kids to do is help me in the kitchen. I can usually get them to join in relatively easily when I pull out one of my machines (that makes look like a chef and I don't mean just wearing the apron and the hat).
Kids are proud of what they do and they often want to show you for you to recognize this. We are often busy and could pay a little more time to each of them in these moments but when your house is bustling and getting pulled in different directions due to different age ranges it is easier said than done. There is nothing like cooking a meal from scratch. It is a proud moment for all. Kids like to eat what they love and if they had a hand (no pun intended) in it they might very well want to sit down for dinner with more excitement. If you put some love into it then it makes it a fun mealtime. I have invested, and yes these are small investments, in some machines (I like to call them) to help bond our family and to keep us healthy. Trust me they are absolutely worth it! These tools are like magic (to me anyway) so I am going to share a few of my favs!
Here are our favourite mini appliances!
Breville 'The Citrus Press Pro' - Easily juice any type of citrus like a pro! I love this machine because you can get freshly squeezed orange juice in minutes, and our family loves it. All you do is cut the oranges in half and away you go! Our kids love to pull the handle down over the orange and instantly your OJ is pouring out. If you make more than you can drink it lasts a few days! Store and Serve. The nice thing about this machine it is dishwasher safe so it is very easy to clean up afterwards. It is that simple!
Phillips Pasta Maker - Enjoy fresh and homemade pasta in fifteen minutes! This is one of my favourites and when you have guests it makes you really look like a professional. All you do is add Semolina Flour with the cups provided into the canister and put the lid on, and have your little one hit the start button. Then you add the egg and water (according to the other cup given) and mix. My kids love doing this part. You pour the water and egg in through the top and watch the pasta swirl until it starts coming out. This is where my kids love to cut the pasta into the length you wish. You can keep for five days or boil and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add sauce (or not if you are like one of my kids) and enjoy! The nice thing about this machine it is dishwasher safe so it is very easy to clean up afterwards.
Crock Pot - There are many things you can do with a crock pot. The nice thing is that you can prepare way in advance so when it is mayhem and the kids are home you can be hanging with them instead of having to focus on cooking. One of our favourite breakfast meals is to make apple oatmeal for the morning, but preparing it at night before you go to bed for an easy morning. All you do is add the oatmeal (real oatmeal that takes a while to cook). Add water and spices or brown sugar/cane sugar for flavour. Cut a few apples into pieces and throw it in. Set the timer to start an hour before you wake up and voila - enjoy! Also very easy to clean so this is a win! You can do many dinners as well. There are tons of great recipes and books that can guide you on easy meals!
Cuisinart Bread Maker - Have you ever walked into a bakery and smelled fresh bread? I feel like it seems to bring smiles on peoples faces. That and cookies! This one is a bit more difficult but once you master it, it is very easy. The best way to attack this is to buy bread packages where it helps you with the ingredients. You just pour the packets in and the flours, the liquids (it will tell you exactly how much and of what ingredient), and you turn it on! In hours you are slicing your fresh bread. If you have allergies you have the advantage to knowing what is in your ingredients. I also love doing raisin bread for the kids for breakfast! They do too!
We hope you loved these tips as much as I love cooking with pride for my family!