Week 2 in the Series by our Anonymous Guest Blogger
Set your preschooler up with chances to be just like the big kids/grown-ups. You can create these opportunities in areas you want them to excel; their pride will tickle you both.
• Kid Grocery List – Grocery shopping with my kids became an exercise in parental torture when they hit about two and a half. I needed to improve the experience for all of us, so I developed a tool to keep them busy and helping instead of testing my patience. A page with photos and words of foods we most eat, categorized by food group and laminated for endurance serves as our kid grocery list. We put ours together in Publisher, but it would be just as easy to have the kids create their own by letting them cut up the grocery store ads. We keep ours in the car with a few white-board markers. When we get to the grocery store, I read off my list and the kids circle the items we need on their list. Each time we get an item into the cart, they get to erase the circle around that item. When there are no more circles, our errand is done. This was also a great tool for educating the kids about the various food groups and quashing the I-wants (Bummer, that’s not on our list today. What do you see that we still need?).
• Packing Lunches – About once a week we do an errand picnic. The kids love the idea of packing a lunch (like Daddy does for work). They each picked out a lunch box they liked (control) and help to pack it (independence). It’s a great way to help them feel like they are more invested in tackling our (my) list of errands. Many stores now have café areas near the deli. We settle in for lunch among the hot-case diners on grocery day. Other days we’ll find a park to burn off energy and get the wiggles out during a lunch break. This is a great tool for kids who eat at daycare/school as well. Letting them pack their own lunch translates to a lunch more likely to be eaten and enjoyed.
• Cooking Camp; Meal Preparation – Kids are often underfoot in the kitchen. They love watching the grown-ups use the kitchen gadgets and are eager and curious to be part of the fun. It is easy to capitalize on this natural interest; the key to making cooking with your little one fun is regulating your expectations. Expect to do as much of the adult jobs as possible before starting. Expect your child to follow safety rules. Expect the clean up to take longer than the project itself. At 4, we are making scrambled eggs, egg salad, tomato soup, etc. with limited supervision (mommy = shell patrol). It’s a terrifying leap, but one that pays me back every time with how tickled they are with their accomplishments.
Each fall when cool weather approaches I begin cravings comfort food. For me, it’s all about the GUMBO! In my hometown in Louisiana, a Gumbo cook-off is held in September, right around the Sugar Cane Festival. Other than Mardis Gras, it’s about the best time to be had all year! Here is my personal favorite recipe for Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 Jar of Kary’s Dry Roux
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell-pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 chicken breasts, 1-2 inch diced
2 chicken legs
1 package turkey keilbasa
2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth
2.5 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp-1 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups of cooked brown rice
Warm a large pot or dutch oven to medium heat. Add in canola oil and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Add your onions and all your meat, turn heat to medium-high and brown the outside of your sausage and chicken. (Doesn’t need to be cooked through.) Then take out and set on a plate until later. Turn the heat off. Pour in the water and broth. With a whisk, stir in the dry roux and mix until dissolved. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for while (about 20-30 minutes). Meanwhile, chop up any remaining veggies if you haven’t yet. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the browned meat and onions. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for about an hour and a half.
Serve over a scoop of rice, with the gumbo filled to the brim of the bowl. For traditional Cajun sides, serve also with fresh french bread and potato salad. (I know, Carb overload!)