weather icon Partly Cloudy

Cooking with kids helps keep them busy, makes family memories

Updated March 23, 2020 - 11:55 am

If you’re looking for a way to occupy your kids — and yourselves — during this unexpected stay-at-home period, consider cooking with them.

“There’s only so much time you can spend trying to teach your kids math,” said Jack Bishop, chief creative officer for America’s Test Kitchen. “You’re going to need some other activities, and cooking is a great way for kids and parents to stay engaged — and make something that you can then eat.”

And you can start first thing in the morning, with breakfast.

“We’re not rushing out to catch the bus to get to school, so let’s maybe slow down a little bit in the morning before we get going,” he said. (You can find) “great overnight waffle recipes, egg recipes, muffin recipes. Yogurt and berry parfaits. Just start the day out making something together. If you’re working from home and your kids have got some school assignments, do something like that to get the day going.”

Emily Brubaker, chef and sales representative for MGP Specialty Foods/Cured & Whey at 6265 S. Valley View Blvd. frequently cooks with her children, who are 6 and 4½.

“We find a recipe that they might enjoy, like a pasta dish,” she said. “I have them measure everything out.” She explains how certain ingredients interact, like leavening in baked goods.

“They help a lot,” she said. “They do knife work.”

Brian Howard, chef/owner of Sparrow & Wolf at 4480 Spring Mountain Road, cooks with his son, Brix, who will be 5 in June, and said Brix knows his way around a knife, too.

“I try to teach him basic knife skills, to respect the knife,” Howard said. “I do give him a real knife.”

Brubaker said she wants her kids to really understand their food.

“What I find with all ages of kids is to taste as you go every ingredient, as long as it’s safe,” an exception being raw poultry, for example. “Even flour — how it feels, what it tastes like. And baking powder and salt. When it’s done, they kind of have an idea of how it’s evolved. And the flavor changes so much.”

Bishop heartily recommends baking with them.

“Kids love to see the transformation of flour and water and yeast into bread,” he said. “It’s also mostly hands-on work; not a lot of knife work.”

“Bread is fun to bake with kids because of the action of kneading,” Brubaker said. “My kids love to bake bread because it’s almost like Play-Doh to them. It’s fun for them. And they sit in front of the oven when they’re baking things, watching them rise, watching them brown. I’ve got many pictures of them.”

Bryce Krausman, co-owner of DW Bistro at The Gramercy, said he started cooking with kids when he was a young babysitter.

“I kind of played restaurant with them,” he said. “You’d say it was veal Parmesan, but it was mac and cheese.

“Make it fun for them. Make a soup using all the canned vegetables you bought. Get them interacting; make some dough. Get them used to what it’s like to cook. Let them get their hands in it.”

Brubaker wants kids to know the source of their food. Instead of buying frozen chicken nuggets, she’ll show them a chicken, then how it’s cut up, how it’s prepared.

“This way they know what they’re eating,” she said. “That, I think, is lost. Kids don’t know where food comes from; they don’t even know what it is.”

She and Krausman suggest letting them tend plants so they can better understand the origins of food.

“We grew tomatoes and my daughter was blown away by what they were,” Brubaker said of her younger child. “She ate every tomato before they even ripened because she thought it was so cool.”

Krausman suggested getting their hands dirty.

“This is the time to plant; it’s the first of the season,” he said. “Plant some rosemary. If you want to get more aggressive, plant some tomatoes and peppers.”

For parents who don’t know how to cook and even those who do, Brubaker highly recommends the Raddish service for kids 4 to 14, which is available monthly or in subscriptions of six to 12 months, ranging from $20 to $24 per month. Each month they get three laminated recipe guides, three culinary skill cards, a kitchen project, kid-friendly tool and an apron, with six- and 12-month subscriptions. (Go to raddishkids.com.)

“My mom bought those for my kids and they think it’s super-duper fun,” she said.

Another source is americastestkitchen.com/kids, which has temporarily taken down its paywall.

Remember they — and you — don’t have to be limited to mac and cheese. Howard said his son recently cut up a lamb rack, learned how to make a yogurt marinade and marinated the lamb.

“Tonight he’ll get to grill over the wood fire and make beans,” he said. “He learned how to soak the beans; tonight he’ll learn how to process those beans.”

“I was so surprised, last night he ate fresh horseradish for the first time,” said Howard, who frequently makes Instagram cooking videos with Brix. “He really liked it.”

The point is to do it together.

“It’s one of those things that I think is lost,” Brubaker said. “It’s important to show kids, when we’re at home with them.”

“They’ll grow from this and they’ll learn from it,” Krausman said. “Kids will look back at this time in their lives and say, ‘I watched my parents do this when things were kind of tough.’ Talk about your fears and things together. And then make that time when you’re together just meal time.”

Easy whole-wheat sandwich bread

Vegetable oil spray

1½ cups (8¼ ounces) whole-wheat flour

1 cup (5½ ounces) bread flour

2¼ teasoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (11 ounces) warm water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon honey

1 large egg, cracked into bowl and lightly beaten with fork

Spray inside bottom and sides of 8½-­by-­4½-­inch metal loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together whole-­wheat flour, bread flour, yeast and salt. Lock bowl in place and attach paddle to stand mixer. In 4-­cup liquid measuring cup, whisk warm water, melted butter and honey until honey has dissolved.

Start mixer on low speed. Slowly pour water mixture into flour mixture and mix until batter comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and knead dough for 5 minutes. (Dough will look smooth and wet, almost like cake batter.) Stop mixer.

Spray rubber spatula with vegetable oil spray. Use greased spatula to transfer batter to greased loaf pan. Use spatula to push dough into corners of loaf pan and spread into even layer. Spray top of dough lightly with vegetable oil spray. Let dough rise, uncovered, until dough is about ½ inch above top edge of loaf pan, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

While dough rises, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, use pastry brush to gently paint top of dough with beaten egg.

Place loaf pan in oven. Bake until bread is deep golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Use oven mitts to remove loaf pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place loaf pan on cooling rack and let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Carefully run butter knife around edges of bread to loosen from loaf pan (ask an adult for help — ­pan will be hot). Use oven mitts to carefully turn loaf pan on its side and remove bread from pan. Let bread cool completely on cooling rack, about 3 hours. Transfer bread to cutting board, slice (ask an adult for help), and serve.

Makes 1 loaf.

— Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Caesars furloughing about 90% of US workers
The furloughs come amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted all U.S. commercial casinos to temporarily shut their doors.
Bill Withers, soul legend and 'Lean on Me' singer, dead at 81 - VIDEO
Bill Withers' family said he died of heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles. Withers was a three-time Grammy winner. His other major hits include “Ain’t No Sunshine" and “Lovely Day.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas KatsWalk: From the Mandalay Bay to Excalibur - VIDEO
Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes walks and talks along the Las Vegas Strip, from Mandalay Bay to Excalibur. (John Katsilometes and Kevin Cannon / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Make Ivan Grant's Quarantini - VIDEO
Ivan Grant, a flair bartender at Long Bar at The D Las Vegas, makes his Quarantini. (Ivan Grant)
Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus - VIDEO
According to Variety, 52-year-old frontman and songwriter Adam Schlesinger has died, following a short battle with the respiratory illness, coronavirus. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
KATS WALK: A walking tour on south Las Vegas Strip – VIDEO
RJ columnist John Katsiometes takes a walking tour of the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. (John Katsiometes and Kevin Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiger King character has Las Vegas connection - VIDEO
Entertainment reporter John Katsilometes talks about the popular "Tiger King" and Jeff Lowe, a central figure in the Netflix documentary phenomenon who wanted to do business with the last Las Vegas Strip entertainer to use wild tigers in his act. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coranavirus victim Howard Berman playing the harmonica in April 2014 - VIDEO
Howard Berman, 66, playing the harmonica at a jam session in April 2014. Berman, who was active in the Las Vegas music community, died on March 24, 2020, from COVID-19. (Diana Andriola)
Boarded-up businesses in the Arts District add some color - VIDEO
Businesses in the Arts District have commissioned local artists to paint murals on the boards covering their doors and windows. When the boards are removed, they will be auctioned off to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sold-out Electric Daisy Carnival still scheduled for May - VIDEO
In a post on his social media platforms, festival founder Pasquale Rotella confirmed that EDC remains scheduled for May 15-17 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway despite coronavirus concerns that have sideline scads of other live music events. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
City of Las Vegas responds to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup
Alcohol is now allowed in curbside meal pickups in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas has responded to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup service to include alcohol in those meals. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga delays new album release - VIDEO
The pop star was planning to drop her sixth LP, "Chromatica," on April 10, but she's made the "tough decision" to push back the launch following the coronavirus outbreak. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ways to keep yourself from going crazy at home during coronavirus - VIDEO
Take art classes with your kids. Install a bidet. Practice yoga. Buy houseplants. Catch up your streaming queue. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas nightclub giant Hakkasan Group lays off 1,600 - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Strip’s leading nightlife company has let go of nearly its entire workforce, leaving about 1,600 staffers suddenly unemployed, due to the shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Disneyland closes in response to coronavirus - VIDEO
Walt Disney Company announced the closure of its Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, on Thursday afternoon. Known as the "happiest place on earth," Disneyland has closed its doors only three other times in 65 years. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to temporarily close buffets amid coronavirus fears - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International will temporarily close its Las Vegas buffets, effective Sunday amid growing coronavirus fears. (Al Mancini and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto tackles Italian cooking at Eataly Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto showed off his skills in a slightly different context Thursday night, when he dropped by Manzo in Eataly to launch the Italian restaurant’s new Guest Chef series. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator leaving Mirage on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The 11-year Las Vegas Strip headliner is on a venue hunt, confirming Wednesday he is leaving his eponymous theater at The Mirage this summer for parts uncharted. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garth Brooks to play first concert at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Country megastar Garth Brooks is the first non-football event announced for the $2 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Post Malone reveals his face tattoos are due to being 'ugly' - VIDEO
In a new interview with 'GQ,' the 24-year-old admitted his body art is linked to insecurity issues. [The face tattoos do] maybe come from a place of insecurity, to where I don’t like how I look .., Post Malone, via 'GQ'. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 Las Vegas chefs to watch - VIDEO
If you want to know what’s next for dining in Las Vegas, we suggest paying close attention to these five accomplished chefs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri reflects on the Las Vegas dining scene
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri talks about the Las Vegas food scene while in town celebrating his 52nd birthday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol

The City of Las Vegas has announced a new temporary permit program that will allow businesses with existing alcohol licenses and food service licenses to deliver meals with alcohol.