Recipes and food ideas from kids all over the world
March 8th, 2013 § 0
January 27th, 2013 § 0
Practice Some Tomfoolery- Have Fun
A child is the first person to remind us of how popsicles are also a winter food source and when I gave me nieces and nephews a project for this month’s blog, they proved my point tenfold on how creativity and the evolution of ideas about food and recipes and in general, in the hands of children sees few boundaries and thus causes a true evolution of ideas on food, pairing partner, flavors and tastes that are not bound by society, history or anyone else’s opinion. I am as I believe I have mentioned embarking on a similar journey with the evolution of my own ideas for flavor and pairing in a juice project, where I will make 300 different juices in the course of this year all with different pairings and all seasonal-ish. This personal project of mine still only on its 15th juice has taught me that I know nothing about the opportunities that exist in flavor. In the book that inspired this month’s blog, “Ferran, Inside Story of El Bulli and The Man Who Reinvented Food”, Ferran was often quoted saying “have fun in the kitchen, practice tomfoolery” and it got me to thinking about precisely how my kitchen creativity was born and how I keep it evolving, through the practice of tomfoolery and even more so with my practice of tomfoolery with children. Now many people probably automatically think “there is no room for fooling around, work needs to get done” but the importance of playing around or practicing a little tom foolery is essential to creativity and as we age we should be finding ways to keep this practice in our lives in order for our creativity to flourish.
Leif, Svea and Ivin have long been both my little muses and my inspiration and although the subject of this post is really about the art of tomfoolery and the evolutional process of creativity seen in examples of children, I would be remiss not to point out that this very act of allowing kids to practice tomfoolery and play in the kitchen is what excites them about eating and learning about food. The practice of tomfoolery with kids has long been part of the curriculum I developed for Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center’s Kids in the Kitchen Programs and in my own teaching of children, it has proven results in getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables and to truly enjoy the process, not to mention when parents get involved in or support this act of tomfoolery in the kitchen, parental boding occurs and our society is often lacking in that these days.
So now back to the project I gave my niece and nephews. I called up my sister in law, who is always game for tomfoolery of any kind which can be visible in her art and in her newly acquired passion and skill for tattooing her art. I asked her is she would mind getting the juicer out and telling the kids have at making juices from whatever they had or wanted to buy etc and just document and photograph the experience. The kids of course were elated with the project, they first of all truly enjoy cooking and kitchen creativity and secondly love any time they can appear in picture on my blog, it makes them feel “special” and I take every opportunity I can to showcase these amazing kids and use them as the poster children for kids having a healthy and educated relationship to food.
What happened next surprised even me. I was just finishing teaching a class and my sister in law called to tell me she sent the pictures of the popsicle making and I said, “ popsicles” ? And then it dawned on me, of course these kids saw popsicles as the outcomes of this juice project and not just sweet popsicles, they made popsicles with tomatoes and cabbage and other vegetables. In the end the experience for them meant, eating and drinking lots of fruits and vegetables, making popsicles to eat more fruits and vegetables later and practicing tomfoolery together as a family in order to deepen their creativity when it comes to food.
November 17th, 2012 § 0
Visionary Thinking in Old School Environments
A Kid in the Kitchen Schools Them All
It’s fitting that as I write this I take a break and call my 11 year old niece Kianna to catch up a bit and see how she is. She is currently making a clutch purse out of candy wrappers for her friend for Christmas. Yes that is correct, and I will tell you that I can guarantee that it will be cool and amazing, like most the things she has done; the duck tape mens wallet, the dryer sheet dolls, the chain lofted bed, it really doesn’t matter, there is something brilliantly visionary in children. I talk about this often on my blog in that to celebrate this vision with our children is our duty as adults. How we lose this genius ability to see the world and all it entails without preconceived notions I don’t know but if we can pin point that, we can certainly make great changes in the world. But until then its important that we celebrate the visionary children even more so than the adults. These are the true genius’ of our times.
Flynn McGarry, is an artist, a visionary and one fucking cool kid! He started training to become a professional chef at age 11. He has apprenticed at some of the best restaurants in the country and creates his own 9-12 course tasting menu at his parents’ home for his supper club in Los Angles called Eureka. Not only is his food seasonal, local and all the norm for high end chefs, but it is exquisitely artistic and beyond what an 14 year old boy should understand in terms of the norm. His menus are evolved and intelligent beyond what makes sense. This young man is someone to watch, not only for where he will go and what he will do but as an example of how visionaries come in all ages.
April 19th, 2012 § 0
herbacious as always……
Another Year of Coloring Outside the Lines—Successfully
I Like Holes with Cheese Around It
I feel blessed and lucky that all of the offspring of my brothers are extremely creative in both their thinking and their art. As I said in the welcome section , creativity is something we are not born with but it is produced and nurtured both by the people and places in our lives and the experiences we have. All of us are capable of being creative and children typically have this capability with greater ease, especially if the nourishment for it is there.
When thinking about coloring outside the lines and what I wanted my feature in the Kids in the Kitchen section to be about, I immediately thought of one of the most creative and genius statements I had ever heard coming from anyone. My niece Svea is exceptionally creative, I often see bits of me in her, her anger, her manipulations, her mean streak, but I also see the way her mind wraps around things in the most genius way. I can see how she maneuvers through the world with quick and creative forethought and how she tries to make things happen with that thought process. She is a girl who needs to be moving and active and creative at all times and I love that about her. She is a creative force that I am inspired from and learn from daily. I continue to strive to do good things for myself in life but also as I have said before, being a good example for my nieces and nephews is a duty I take very seriously. I cannot imagine what it is like to have a child of my own, as the amount of responsibility and love I feel for the ones that are not mine is unbelievable. This little Svea one of the many creative children in my life can color outside the lines like it is no bodies business.
One day apparently Svea who was eating a slice of Swiss cheese told her mother: “I love holes with cheese around it” This statement continues to amaze me with the sheer creativity and genius. A way of looking at things that is new and fresh, pure creative thought. This statement inspires me time and time again and I will never forget it or what that says about her amazing viewpoint.
March 5th, 2012 § 0
My Fear of Freedom Suffocation Conquered Through Restraint -Go Figure…
The Girls Scouts Get the Best of Me
I taught one of my best classes the other day, it was for a group of 16 girl scouts all around 4th graders and in celebration of World Thinking Day, which is essentially a day that the girl scouts devout to thinking about their sisters around the world. In light of the fact that I wrote all the cooking badge recipes for the new handbooks as well as my devotedness to young girls and being a positive example, I was excited for the task and decided to teach a version of my World Spice Market class. The World Spice Market class not only teaches about spices but it focuses on the cultures of the areas the spices originate form and are currently produced in. I could feel something powerful with this class that I can only attribute to a new found restraint and self regulation that I have touched upon in this blog. There was a simplicity and organization that just clicked differently with this class, the process for me is becoming clearer and clearer and even my culinary education is becoming more rewarding for both myself and my students.
So big thanks to the Girl Scouts for participating in my growth it a give and take relationship in life and the youth have a way of inducing clearer connections and realizations much more rapidly.
Here are a few pictures of the good time had by all.
World Spice “Kiddy” Cappuccinos
Buckwheat Carrots Spiced Pancakes with Ginger Butter and Spiced Strawberry Maple Syrup
Pear and Apple Spiced Muffins
January 26th, 2012 § 0
Big Game, Hunting, Cowboys & Rugged Stuff…………..
It’s All Child’s Play to Me!
Children have a way of brinign out our inner play and wild side. Think wrestling with your kids, running around the house and how often words like please dont be wild int eh house come out of our mouths. My brother and his family moved to Wyoming for one so thier kids could have room to be wild in a sense. I spent a lot of time pondering this, consiously and subconsiously and relalized that in our world today it must be hard for those who have kids to provide the perfect or best enviroment for thier kids to grow up in. With the amount of television, video games and basic nonsense we are bombareded with it’s important to remember that your kids need to be wild. They need to play, they need space and they need to roam and discover. Now I am not saying that we all need to move to Wyoming and I think the basic message here works for kids and adults; GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY MORE. I also witness often my brothers and thier wives playing with thier chidlren, often wildly and I think this really instills in chicldren as they grow the need to continue to play even into adulthood. I myself am grateful for these little Wyoming cowboy and cowgirl I got to play with over Christmans and New Years. They gave me the opportunity and the free pass to be wild and crazy with them and it was fun and it was rewarding. It doesnt matter where you live, we adapt, that is easy, its all about choice really. Get outside and play with kids or play like a kid, winter time is the best time!
December 17th, 2011 § 0
When Even a Whisk Can’ t Fix It……………..
Even Children Need to Fail-Here, Svea Tells Us Why
I try and teach children in my cooking classes and in life that failure is inevitable and part of the process. This wasn’t something I was comfortable with in the beginning days of me teaching children how to cook. I think like all of our skills in life, including our cooking, they get better as we feed them with sustenance and learn from the failures we experienced while coveting them. This is true for me for teaching kids and I have to admit, I have learned more about myself and who I really am form teaching kids than any other thing I have done. We (adults) ask the question to each other and ourselves often, ” who am I?” the answer for me is much easier to remember and answer, if I have just been around or around children. children have a way of bringing us back to our centers our connected selves and above all the simplicity of life. I am most lucky I think, for a lady with no children (yet) I get to spend a lot of time around them inside and out of the kitchen. As I witness myself and adults fail all the time in classes and their reactions to those failures, I notice the one big difference; the child can learn the lesson but not be hard on them self about it. No self deprecation because they didn’t cut the tomato correctly, no severe anxiety because they threw in salt instead of sugar, just simple I made a mistake attitude, which I think is why adults have such a hard time with the mistakes of children, they are emotional less about them and can clearly understand the mistake, but just not have any emotion to it, unless the adults give them some to put there. I find that fascinating. As adults we are constantly trying, and I certainly am these days, to separate our emotions from our action and our being, yet kids do this naturally. I learn a lot from kids and this latest observation is a strong breakthrough for me in the art of failure.
On my recent trip to Missouri to visit family for Thanksgiving I told Svea the idea I had hovering over me for my blog for December and she as always wanted to help. I love the idea of giving her and my other nieces and nephews a forum for their creative work and work hard to give them creative control as well, as I can learn form them each time, like I did from Svea. So in this series of failure essays by Svea Pierson, she talks about her bouts with failure and what she learned etc etc. Now take in mind she is a bit of an embellisher for the sake of the story, this is one of her strong suits, she was born to write in a way that the truth is on paper, but it is flashy enough to hold the audience!
Essays on Failure, By Svea Pierson
November 15th, 2011 § 0
My New Favorite Tool in the Kitchen & In Life!
This blog as many know for me has been instrumental for me while I learn about key things in life, through food. The food is a catalyst for my evolvement in life. As I have shared before, food is my art. As we speak about patience in this month’s blog, I have shared that I have up to this point in my life, not had much and for those who know me, they most likely concur with this statement. But like anything in life, the more you look at it deeply the more it changes in what it looks like. Upon further investigation and delving deeper into my history, I realized that patience came easy to me as far as kids and specifically kids in the kitchen. I have been working with kids in the kitchen for as long as I can remember, regardless of how old I was, I always allowed younger ones to be in the kitchen with me and to this day, I have no issue sharing a kitchen with kids, I quite enjoy it. I learn a lot about myself while in the kitchen with kids, not only about cooking but about myself. I think this is ultimately because children are not tainted yet by what is “supposed” to be and have these perfect little minds that simply move with excitement, wonder, some fear and generally curiosity. I am a rare breed I think as I not only think children should be in the kitchen with us, but I also think they should play with food. This very idea of getting to touch and play with food is somewhat foreign as it seems so wasteful, however it crucial not only for their development of culinary skills and basic kitchen instincts and having a sense of flavor, but further than that it teaches them skills that we do not have the opportunity to learn much in life anymore, like being fearless, being creative, experimentation, trusting their own judgment, walking the line, discovering and many more ultimately I think, skills. We adults do not readily teach kids these things as today these things seem “risky”. But without these skills, we would not have evolved as the world we are, many discoveries in life and the food world would not have been made. Imagine a world where Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison didn’t get to experiment, operate with fearlessness and essentially be comfortable with their differentness. In today’s world being different is hard, why not allow children to play with food and in the kitchen as means to grow more comfortable with the idea that different is good and can lead to learning and growth. We have to have a bit more patience with children and make the time to be with them in lots of ways but food is a great way to help evolve these little lives we are shaping while not investing nearly the amount of time and energy we should be.
I have a close friend who is also a fellow foodie and he has daughter who is just moving into teenage hood. He describes her as this amazing human being as most fathers do, but he also describes her as really a fellow human being and I think that is extremely important. I am not sure he is really prepared for all that this your girl is about to move through as many of us women know, the teenage years can be quite difficult. He says she has a love of food and all things culinary, which is common for a lot of children her age. She watches all the food tv and likes to cook. I have been thinking about my friend and his daughter and her draw to food and her journey she is about to embark on and as my mind has been on patience lately how that all relates. Well I guess I think that this friend of mine has this beautiful opportunity to remain close to daughter while many teenagers begin to drift apart. He may start to discover that he will have to have a new found patience (perhaps) as she moves through life trying to discover how to become the women she hopes to become, she may not tell him everything anymore, she may not hug him the same way, she may start to wear makeup, she may start to like different things and she may even start to like new people, people he may like or understand. He will probably have to start to exercise this patience while he watches his little girl grow and evolve and he may not understand exactly what is happening to her. But he has this remarkable opportunity in their mutual love for food, to continue bonding and remaining close through other means. This takes time, commitment and this takes a bit of thinking outside of the box. Perhaps he should take a cooking class with he, perhaps they should go to a new restaurant together, perhaps they can visit a farm together, there are so many opportunities and I use this friend as an example because I think that ultimately people miss out on the opportunity food give to teach and grow with our children.
We forget all the important learning and growth that can be done in the kitchen and the learning and growth goes both ways, we teach our children and we learn from them, we all evolve and grow! Let’s all try and have a bit more patience with our children and allow them into the kitchen with us, so many spectacular things will happen if we do this, let’s give them the best tools for life and there is no more enjoyable teacher than food!
July 30th, 2011 § 0
Italian Kids Not In the Kitchen
A Quest for Food Purity Which Lead to the Discovery of Italian Kids
Not in the kitchen but in the sea………..
What I noticed about Italy, the Lingurian coast anyhow was that there is not a lot of fuss when it comes to food and kids. There are not kids menus, no kids complaining about eating and really its just quite simple. I was surprised to see not many kids helping in kitchens but rather out playing, frolicking in the sea and playing in the streets. The way the Italians tend to think when it comes to food and family, which I believe leads to a very family oriented tradition and one of the main reasons they have held on to tradition and food culture this long is that, they encourage the entire family to eat the same way. Its simpler more nutritious and certainly more efficient this way and there isn’t a whole lot of variance in family meals and snacks to this method. Eating habits as we know are made and engrained early one and if the group is doing it just makes sense to the Italians. I guess it also helps that the food in Italy is not overly exotic or spicy in general and therefore can be introduced to children at a young age. Pasta and cream sauces are often seen being eaten by babies and I even saw a few eating spoonfuls of pesto, not a milder version but just simply straight up the same as their families on pasta of course! Babies in Italy are often introduce to grains and legumes at an early age which I find fascinating. I also find it fascinating that the Italians believe children should consume a lot of fresh herbs, they say it bolters their immune systems! You see toddlers eating prosciutto and salami and aged cheeses and that is just incredible. I guess in the end, the Italians way of making family and food one seems to work not only for their children’s pallets, but also in helps their children retain their traditions of food culture long after they grow up!
June 28th, 2011 § 0
Get Me Outta That Box ,Into My Garden ,Get to Know Me
Getting The Kids into the Garden
Ok so now its time for a bit of openness and honesty and a picture of Nissa (me) casting my judgment onto others! Children’s eating habits! This is a sensitive topic for me and I place quite a hefty sack full of judgment onto many people in regards to the way kids eat, and I’m not talking about poor people who cannot afford better, I’m talking about those who can and who are educated accordingly and just simple don’t. Sometimes I feel like feeding a child a healthy meal and being an American kid are two opposing things. No matter how hard you try all forces seem to be pulling in the opposite direction and I am not always sure this is the child pulling first. Now first we start with all the crap that we produce and call food and then specifically market to children. Sugary cereals, processed cookies, crackers and chips and then oh yes the most evil of them all SODA! Children’s pallets are shaped, pure and simple and as parents or adults we are the ones who are shaping these little pallets so, the question really is, and this is where I pass my big fat judgment, are you going to let kellogs shape your child’s pallet and in the process fill up the bank accounts of the executives? Or are you going to shape your child’s pallet by doing whatever it takes to get good healthy food into its mouth, time and time and time again. Seeking out what you need to know to make it flavorful as well as healthy. No it’s not easy but it’s really necessary. So for now all we can really do is encourage adults to take responsibility for what they feed their kids and to also take into account that we cannot simply just give them build vegetables and call it a day, we need to give them flavors and develop their pallets just as we do ours but first they need the chance. Give it to them!
In summer gardens grow everywhere and no matter where you live I am sure there is access to a garden somewhere even in a school or nearby farm. Do whatever it takes to get your kid in the garden and learning about how vegetables grow. Just as children are apt to eat more if they have helped cook, their little pallets open up even wider when they get to nourish in the garden, harvest and eat! It’s a simple process really, start by some container herbs or if you have the space a small garden and by have the space I mean have a 3 X 3 foot patch of dirt! Their little eyes light up to a seed sprout, to watch a head of broccoli come into full bloom from seed to head! So I guess what I am saying is that I am trying not to judge truly, but I am and in this case I feel like it is soooooo important. Get your kids into the garden and let them watch their food grow! Show them what the fresh flavors taste like up close and allow them to have their pallets shaped by something more real than a rice crispy bar or a ding don!
I had the pleasure of traveling to Missouri to visit my brother and his children and went camping with a slew of kids. For a few days I got to cook and play in the garden with the kids and they were amazing the joy they had helping put the recipes together. All the goods that they harvested from the garden came into the house in small bowls even through the picked big ones, because they ended up eating all the peas, strawberries, carrots and lettuces! It never amazes me what kids appreciate, if you give them the opportunity they will always surprise you!