Seven years ago I started editing kids’ cookbooks.
It was a product of boredom. Someone decided I’d been editing Woman’s Day long enough and “promoted” me out of the job to what was colloquially known at my Park Street HQ as “the departure lounge.”
Not much happens in the departure lounge and it drove me a bit batty.
I like to keep busy, I don’t do idle very well. So I created something called The ABC of Kids Cooking after a little kick-along from one of my mentors. Christine. I really must call Christine. She’s one of the good ones and it’s been a few months between nattery Vietnamese lunches.
Among other good ones were my collaborators, designer Tessa and food director Jennene. I really must catch up with them soon too.
The ABC of Kids’ Cooking was a hit and ended up being reprinted oodles of times, which was quite thrilling. It had recipes for every letter of the alphabet, from A for apple turnover to Z for zucchini fritters.
My little ones featured in the P for pizza spread with their cousin …
Nepotism is alive and well.
The success of The ABC of Kids’ Cooking lead to a series of not-quite-so-successful follow-ups, including Easy As 1, 2, 3 … which used cooking to teach kids about numbers and volume and fractions and stuff.
The now-big-ones think it’s perfectly normal that they feature in a series of children’s cookbooks. Kids are funny like that.
They were flicking through them yesterday morning and started begging to cook stuff. We did jelly oranges and choc-chip bread and butter pudding.
Here’s a heretical tip: I’m not entirely sure jelly oranges are worth the trouble. Getting the pith out is a major pain.
And since I’m not a sugar person I can’t even tell you what they were like, but they went down a treat with the kids and Husband, who popped over for dinner and Doctor Who.
It’s always a bit weird when they leave and the kids’ beds are empty and the house is silent. OK, not silent, that was a slight of word to cover up the fact I have Rod Stewart’s Greatest Hits on high rotation. Oh yes, I do.
But enough about that secret shame (until the song of the day).
Here are the recipes …
Recipe: J is for jelly oranges
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons gelatine
1/2 cup just boiled water
METHOD: cut oranges in half. Juice and strain into a jug. Scrape flesh from skins. Place skins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 1 minute before draining and rinsing under cold water. Place on a wire rack and drain well. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice and sugar. Stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Place orange halves in 8 recesses of a 12-hole muffin pan. In a small jug, using a fork, whisk gelatine briskly into just-boiled water until dissolved. Remove from heat. Blend gelatine mixture into orange mixture in pan. Pour into orange skins. Chill for 3 hours or overnight until set. Serve whole or cut into wedges.
Recipe: Choc-chip bread and butter pudding
This one comes from The Nursery Rhyme Cookbook… Georgie Porgie … Featuring my eldest and her best friend at the time, Rhys … her first kiss!
6 slices thick white bread
2 tablespoons spreadable butter
2 x 375g cans creamy evaporated milk
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup choc chips
ice cream to serve
METHOD: Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 6-cup ovenproof dish. Spread each slice of bread with butter. Cut bread into quarters diagonally. Arrange the bread pieces in the prepared dish, slightly overlapping. In a large jug, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in choc chips. Pour over the bread in the dish. Let stand for 10 minutes, until some of the mixture has been absorbed. Place dish in a large baking pan and add enough boiling water to the pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the dish (this is called a water bath). Bake for 25-30 minutes, until custard is just set. Cool for 5 minutes before serving with ice cream.
Song of the day: Rod Stewart “Maggie May”