Saturday 17 March 2012

Cooking with Mother....or Aunty!

When I was in Australia recently, one of the things I enjoyed most was cooking with - and for - my niece and nephews. They really enjoyed choosing the dishes and became quite adventurous (they are 9, 8 & 4) although they are currently going through a vegetable hatred phase (except for tomatoes, potatoes & raw carrots with the odd avocado thrown in!)

This was an adapted verson of the Surprise Tatin from Yotam Ottolenghi's wonderful book, Plenty. It had a puff pastry base with layered sliced potato, tomato & feta cheese....

Absolutely gorgeous! Another favourite, of course, is pizza. There's something magical to children, I think, in having an individually created dish to themselves and it's so easy. In the Queensland summer heat, the dough for the base rose like a beautiful balloon!

Of course, they got to choose their own toppings. My oldest nephew loves mushrooms, mozzarella & black olives....his sister preferred her fresh, homegrown basil instead of the mushrooms...and the little one just wanted 'cheese & tomato please'!

 And of course there were treats too. Like big batches of chocolate chip cookies...
that I made into ice-cream sandwiches when it was very hot & they'd been very good! I wrapped them in greaseproof paper parcels to store in the freezer....irresistible!

And on the last Sunday we spent together, I set up a 'cupcake competition' for the 2 oldest children. I was scrupulously fair about it! They each had two vanilla cakes, one in a yellow case & one in a green...and they were set on identical plates. I made up some plain buttercream icing and left them with food colours & various sprinkle & sparkles. The brief was to make either the most beautiful or the craziest cupcake...

The one in the top of the picture was judged the most beautiful...a pale pink glittery butterfly on a pastel green background...

 and the one in the foreground below was the craziest...I loved the dribbles of green on the cranberries especially!
Happily for all of us (!) each child won a different category...and picked up a little prize as well as eating their own creations!

It can be so frustrating when children won't eat something that's been lovingly prepared for them. But it helps a lot when they choose and help create the meal themselves. And I know from experience that most of the faddishness disappears in sisters and I were terrible when we were young. Nowadays we will eat just about anything!

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend xo


  1. Hi Rachel :) GREAT pictures! I love all the ideas you had with the kids.

    The cupcake competition would be a great idea for Rilla's birthday paraty :)

    everything looks yummy. so nice to hear about your trip.

    Denise of Ingleside

  2. That all sounds like so much fun. You're the world's greatest aunt. I bet the kids miss you like crazy! Love the designs here on the side--have I mentioned this before. Like a little memory box or something. Plain pizza is my fave too. Sounds like the older kids are more adventuresome with food than I am.

  3. Love reading your posts ever. It sounds as if you have got your nieces and nephew well sussed out. Great ideas on how to get them to eat new things too. Take care xx

  4. Oh Rachel, the children must have adored having you cook all those lovely meals and sweet treats! The personal pizzas look gorgeous and the cookie ice cream sandwiches...YUMMY!! I'll bet the cupcake competition was lots of fun too! What beautiful memories you left for your niece and nephews! I'm sure they will treasure those special times with you. Have a wonderful week, sweetheart! xoxo

  5. Best Auntie ever! Xxxxxxxx

  6. You are so right about kids being picky then as adults eating just about everything. I love baking with my grandchildren and I'm sure you are creating wonderful memories for your family! Love the idea of contests!!
    Have a great day.
    Martha Ellen

  7. wonderful; NO WONDER you've been missing them were so involved and spent so much time with them doing wonderfully creative things with the children.

    What a great lesson in baking and creativity and learning to try a few new things as well.

    What a wonderful aunty you are!!!



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