Tag Archives: kids in the kitchen

Fa La La Lasagne

lasagne slice with titlesIt was Christmas Potluck time at the martial arts school where my son takes Kung Fu. He really wanted to go, but I was too busy to cook anything for him to take, plus I wasn’t even going to go myself.  I told him he could go if he would make something himself to take. I didn’t think it was fair to send a bottomless pit teenage boy to scarf up everybody else’s food without bringing anything to share! He chose lasagne even after I told him the sauce takes a half hour to simmer and then it still has to bake almost an hour. He loves lasagne.

Being a homeschool mom I grabbed the teaching moment. I handed him the recipe and told him to look and see what we already had and then make a shopping list. Then I took him to Publix and made him shop. He’s 16 and the time when he is out on his own is drawing nearer and nearer no matter how much I don’t want it to come. I want him to be self-sufficient so I’ve taught him how to sort laundry and use the washing machine. I’ve had him with me in the kitchen since he was big enough to pull up a stool and stand next to me at the counter. He’s been cooking independently since he was six. He’s learning to drive, to balance a checkbook and manage a savings account. He can operate the vacuum, wash dishes, and clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, run the string trimmer and build a compost pile. Planning a menu, grocery shopping and cooking from scratch to share with others is something else grownups need to be able to do. He jumped into the project happily.

lasagne and leo with captionShopping, prepping the ingredients and making the sauce were all easy, he only needed a little help when it came to actual assembly of the layers. One of my tricks is to only cook the lasagne noodles halfway so they are pliable but they don’t fall apart when you pick them up. They continue to cook inside the casserole during baking so you don’t end up with crunchy pasta. It also takes a little experience knowing how much to use in each layer so you don’t end up with something leftover when it’s all finished, or run out of something before you’re done.

So here’s the recipe for my lasagne. I’ve been making it since I was 16. I’m glad to pass the torch along to my son. I have fond memories of making this lasagne and sharing it with my own friends and family; I hope he will build some memories sharing meals with his own friends and family, too.

Lasagne

Ingredients

1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tblsp olive oil, divided use
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 cups filtered water
1 Tblsp chopped parsley
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz lasagne noodles
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz mozarella, shredded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparation

In a large, heavy pan brown the ground beef and onion in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lasagne noodles for about half the time as directed adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep them from sticking together. Drain.

In a 9×13 casserole pan spread 1 cup of the sauce. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan – ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
yield: 8 servings

Lasagne
 
Author:
Recipe type: casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8 squares
 
Making lasagne from scratch is a great activity for teens to do with each other or with the family.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 6oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 oz lasagne noodles
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large heavy pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion.
  3. Add the dice tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning.
  4. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Cook the lasagne noodles for half the time as directed, adding the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together.
  6. Drain the pasta.
  7. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan.
  8. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan - ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.
  10. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

lasagne resized watermark

Do you have teens? How are you preparing them for living on their own? Do they like to cook? Share your stories with us here or come leave a reply on Facebook.

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Teach Them Diligently…To Cook!

I went to get my hair cut Friday. My old stylist had moved and I had to use someone new which always makes me a little nervous. Not only about whether or not they will do a good job on my hair, but also whether or not our personalities will hit it off. Thankfully both turned out well, I liked my haircut and I liked the stylist. She’s a young mother of two with a blended family that includes two more children – so four kids all under the age of 11! During our conversation it came up that we homeschool, and that I teach nutrition classes. She’s already on board with the idea that kids should eat real food and not a lot of packaged foods or drive-thru meals. I told her the one thing that still surprises me when I talk to moms’ groups was just how many adults don’t know how to do anything in the kitchen beyond microwaving something out of a package. She got quiet for a little bit and then confessed “I do that a lot more than I probably should. It’s just that who has time to cook?”  I agreed that time was a big factor for a lot of people and that the best thing I ever did was to teach my son to cook starting when he was very young so that by six years old he could scramble eggs and make toast and now, at age 15, he can make entire meals, even concocting new dishes (mostly spicy and involving onions and/or bacon). My stylist grew thoughtful and said “My older daughter is 8 and she keeps asking to help me, she wants to stir things when I’m cooking, but I’ve never let her do it yet. Maybe I should start.”  um…YES!!

RJ washing lemons

As soon as your children are old enough to follow simple directions they are old enough to begin helping out in the kitchen. My sister, Amy, has done a super job with this. My 16 yr old nephew and 13 yr old niece are both very handy in the kitchen, you can watch Lucy make guacamole in this video. The two younger girls are also on their way with the 2nd grader making scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast and emptying the dishwasher while the 3 yr old is ready to wash any fruits or vegetables, use a childsafe knife to cut things into cubes, and to help her big sister make muffins.  Do our kids cook because we homeschool?  I don’t think so because I know non-homeschooling families whose children can cook, do laundry and help around the house and the yard – but I find homeschooling families are often more purposeful about it frequently including these kinds of tasks in the daily lessons. “Life Skills” are vital for any young person. 

July Sierra Exif JPEG

As parents we are charged with the responsibility of raising up our children to be ready to enter the world equipped to be vital, useful members of society. I loved the story my friend, Nicole, told me about her then 9yr old son. They have a family tradition of Dad making pancakes every Saturday morning, and not from a mix either. Like us, they grind grain to make freshly milled flour (see more here). When they were preparing for a new baby the 9yr old said “Don’t worry, I’m going to make the pancakes now.” He’d been helping his dad all along and felt confident enough to take over the job, including using the grain mill, to make the Saturday pancakes for his brothers and sisters while Dad was helping with the new baby. It’s been his job ever since!  And just this weekend Amy was able to take a friend on a surprise overnight birthday trip leaving her kids behind to cook all the meals, clean up, and take care of the animals (yes, Dad was still at home, but the kids kept the homestead running), without worrying too much about them burning the house down or eating pop-tarts three meals a day.

Bryan & Lucy cook 07Sue Gregg, an amazing woman and author of at least eight real food cookbooks, has a page on her website called Cooking With Children where she shares more than 40 different cooking tasks and recipes parents can do with their children starting as young as 3 yrs old.  As soon as kids can read they can follow simple written recipes and begin to cook independently. Encourage them to help you make out menus for the week’s meals that include foods they can prepare. Soon you can give them responsibility over one meal per week, and then one week per month. I think there should be a requirement for high school graduation that the child must be able to plan for, shop, and prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least one week. They have to do it for real when they’re out on their own, why not give them the skills and knowledge of how to do it the right way? Consider it just one more investment in their future – and in the future of their family, their children (your grandchildren!)

Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

March*Post Script to this blog: I’d like to give a shout-out to GNOWFGLINS Traditional Foods cooking courses. Both my teens are taking the Fundamentals I course as part of their weekly schooling this fall in our homeschool. There are several courses to choose from and they are self-directed so the children can move along at their own pace.

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