Saturday, 21 May 2011
There are a couple of Aspergers traits that when they team up together I find very frustrating:
A) Always being right
B) Refusal to follow instructions
One area that is really good for teaching children the value of following instructions is cooking, not only do you get the fun learning opportunities (math, science, literacy) but if you don’t follow the instructions your recipe fails, a very immediate lesson.
When I was contacted by the lovely folk at Porter Novelli to ask if I would like to try some Italian Feast recipes from Coles, my first thought was ‘Yes! I can show Annie how important it is to follow instructions.’… followed by ‘oh god no, cooking with kids is so stressful and so messy’ – I feel slightly ashamed typing that outloud.
Annie chose to cook the Minestrone Soup recipe as she has very fond memories of preparing Minestrone Soup in 4yo PreSchool (see PreSchool teachers, your hard work is well-remembered, 3 years later and Annie still talks about that soup).
At my insistence Annie read the recipe herself, I couched my request as ‘Can you read it outloud to Mummy to help me remember what I have to do.’
Daddy again helped to get out ingredients, while Annie used the ChefNVeggieChop to prepare the first lot of veggies. We got to the pouring stock in stage and Annie started to get a little antsy, wanting to just stand and stir and stir (and splash and splash):
Daddy was delegated to make the Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Panini and did a mighty fine job:
The minestrone turned out delicious and was enough to have for entrée over two nights, neither of my girls liked the tomato in the Panini, but once the tomato was removed they really enjoyed it. Heidi only tried a little of the soup, by dipping a piece of bread in it, but I count it as a victory that she did try it. Annie very much enjoyed hers and asked for seconds.
My lesson about the importance of following instructions kind of fell flat because Annie lost interest half way through – when she couldn’t just do her own thing (of just stirring and splashing the soup). Probably I should have stopped at that point and set some of the soup aside to serve half completed, then finished making the rest. That would have given Annie a better comparison of why it is important to follow all the instructions to the end. To be honest, I was just hungry and a little cranky by then, not the best frame of mind to be teaching anything really.
And for all my talk of following instructions, I did alter the recipe a little – I used 1/4 tsp dried chilli pepper flakes – which is half of what was recommended. That supplied enough spice for my fussy eaters.
S was kind enough to provide some feedback on our meal, singing (blogging?) for her super so to speak:
We were very lucky to score an invitation to share the Italian Feast and I got there just in time to chop the zucchinis so of course I take full responsibility for the awesomeness of it all. Marita and the sprogs may have spent the afternoon chopping and stirring but the diced zucchinis in the minestrone were definitely the highlight. Other than that the flavours were fresh and not at all stodgy as some of these things can feel. I really liked the fresh tomatoes in the Rigatoni dish to offset the salami, it was like tasting energy instead of sugar glug. The minestrone was flavoursome and very well balanced. All in all I would give the Leech family kitchen 5 stars, it would have only been 4 and a half but the zucchinis were just so perfect I had to raise my score.
The less that is said about pink haired bankers in the after dinner game of Monopoly the better.
I’ve ordered more ingredients to try making minestrone again, because it was so yummy. Perhaps next time will be a more successful lesson.