Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Me and Mollie

Okay, this is it, the debut of my much anticipated project in honor of my new favorite movie (Julie and Julia). I am definately a servantless american cook but cooking for kids is more my style, no Beef Bourguignon here. So, instead of cooking through Julia Child's recipes, I am going to cook through Mollie Katzen's recipes. For those unaquainted with Katzen, she's a well known vegetarian cookbook author who happens to have three awesome cookbooks for kids, Pretend Soup, Salad People, and Honest Pretzles. So awesome, that Sawyer likes me to read them outloud to him. He likes to hear the comments from the kids who helped test the recipes and he loves the step by step illustrations, which always end with "Eat!". I'm thinking that it will take me about a month or so to get through the recipes in Pretend Soup! I hope so because I'm going to have to return it to the library around then!

I hope you'll check out her books, try some of these recipes, and get inspired to cook with your kids. Like most of the stuff I try, it's a big mess, but lots of fun (until you have to clean up).

Pretend Soup
What better place to start than with the title recipe. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we tried this one. We decided to cook outside. Get lunch made and get fresh air and Vitamin D at the same time. Also, I wasn't too worried about spills since we were outside, let the ants have their share of OJ. One of Katzen's tips about letting kids pour liquids is to place the containers over a shallow pan with a lip so that it catches any spills. It caught the spills but it was also handy for holding and carrying the ingredients, utensils, and dishes.

Sawyer did the measuring himself after I showed him where to stop. He had a little extra OJ, but he got the hang of pouring and slowing down before stopping by the time we got to pouring the yogurt. I ended up using Strawberry yogurt smoothie from Trader Joe's since that's what we had on hand. He used a plastic table knife to slice the bananas and the strawberries. Katzen suggests cutting the banana in half and then making a one inch slit in the peel so they can peel it themself. It worked like a charm. He counted the banana slices and strawberry chunks into the bowls himself, I just had to double check his work to make sure I got my share. Then he ladeled the liquid over the fruit and we both ate it all up. A little sticky, but super yummy! The yogurt and lemon juice make it a little tangy, and the honey and OJ sweeten it up. Nice and cold. Great for Spring or Summer. I'll make it again! And it joins the list of what to do with bananas when you have too many around.

Speaking of bananas . . .
Chocolate-Banana Shakes
were for lunch today (with carrot sticks and cheese and crackers).

This recipe is also joining the list of things to do to use up bananas. Sawyer measured and dumped the milk, peeled and broke of chunks of banana, measured the cocoa, counted the ice cubes and pushed the button on the blender. I have to say I was skeptical, the book claimed that it would taste like there was ice cream in it even though there isn't. But I was fooled and I'm not a huge banana lover like the rest of my family. Just watch out for the banana chunks settling to the bottom of the glass, you might get an extra banana-y last sip like I did. And Sawyer was disappointed that the banana chunks clogged up his silly straw. But "no worries" he drank the whole glass anyway!

Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop
Now this was the perfect beverage for a silly straw! I've heard that slurping through silly straws is good for development. Something about strengthening the sphincter muscles. Seriously!

So I am now going to admit that I buy the plastic lemon and lime shaped bottles of lemon and lime juice because I'm too lazy to squeeze my own. I'm sure that fresh juice tastes better. As much as I want to use "real" citrus juice I don't seem to be able to use lemons or limes for the intended recipe before they go bad. And the cute little bottles of juice can stay in my fridge a LONG time. Hmmm. . . Well, it still tasted really really good when we used the "fake" juice. But I hope to try it with real juice in the near future, it will probably be even better. Use what you have on hand people!

This one takes a little advance preparation- you have to thaw the apple juice concentrate ahead of time. But again, it's super simple measure and dump. Use a tall glass because we got perilously close to the top when we dumped the sparkly water in ours. It required some sipping off the top, but it was very refreshing and way better than normal soda. I love that she recommends trying it with other kinds of fruit juice (I know what I'm going to do with the grapefruit from the farm box now!).

My only complaint is the bowl of melted apple juice concentrate that is still sitting in my fridge. Either plan to make enough glasses so you use it all up, or plan to make it several days in a row until it's gone. Trust me, you'll want to make more, so it won't be a problem.

I know, you already know how to melt cheese on a tortilla. You probably also know that they taste better when you heat them on the stove in a pan instead of in the microwave. But do you add refried beans to yours? It's the secret ingredient!

What I loved about following Mollie's directions was that I actually let Sawyer use the hand held grater which he enjoyed immensely. He would do a tiny amount and then look to see if any came out and put it on the tortilla, then grate a little more. It was slow going but worth it to see his sense of accomplishment. Also, she talked me through letting him help flip it over himself. Adult: Put the spatula under the quesadilla. Child: Flip it over. Adult: Make any necessary corrections.

It was one of the better quesadillas I've made myself. Well, that my child has made for me!

19 recipes total, we've tried 4 so far, 15 recipes left to go!


  1. I love this, Jane! Can't wait to see what you do next. Only thing that would make it better would be pictures of the process AND the end result!

  2. I agree, pictures would be fun. I'm serious about starting to cook more in general and Izzy loves to help so I know this would be great for us. We are going to try the play doh recipes from the previous entry first and then move on to quesadillas. Thanks!