Ah… it’s been a while since I shared posts about little hands cooking. Obviously with school moved to distance learning, cooking club in-person had to take a bit of a break 🙁 And now we’re nearly 6 weeks into this “new normal” (with 5 weeks of school to go), and I’m kind of settled into a daily routine, I had time to stop and think a bit last week about the state of things. Well, not the state of things in the world (because that might make my head explode!) but more the state of things in my life. If this new reality is going to go on for a while, what can make this new weird normal better?
Reflecting on the last nearly six weeks, there has definitely been a high point of my week on Saturdays at 6pm. This is when a group from The Rotary Club of Toronto has met virtually to discuss cooking. Specifically, cooking a specific recipe “together” (apart) each week. More specifically, my recipes!
Neil started this back at the end of March, giving it a 4-week lifespan. We’d meet 4 weeks in a row to chat about the recipe, maybe share wine pairings, ask questions, offer advice. Sounded like a fun way to connect whilst we can’t be together. Since it was Neil organising it, we initially chose my recipes (not because we wanted it to be all about me – more because if people were using this as a learning experience, the recipes had to be ones I/ we were familiar with. As it turns out, it’s been a great thing (I think) because I’ve been able to troubleshoot and answer questions but also get some great ideas for ingredient substitutions/ shortcuts etc… And, more importantly, it’s brought a smile to my face each week.
Week 1 started out fairly simple, with Hachis Parmentier/ Shepherd’s Pie – both meat and vegetarian versions… Look at the creativity!
Get the recipe for Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd’s Pie) here.
Get the recipe for Hachis Parmentier Vegetarien here.
For Week 2, we tasked them with roasting a chicken! Specifically, Mr Neil’s Roast Chicken. For a few people this was their first time roasting a whole bird! Look how well they did!
Read the backstory about Mr Neil’s Roast Chicken here.
Get the recipe for Mr Neil’s Roast Chicken here (bonus podcast to listen to featuring cameos from Cleo the cat, Mr Neil himself and some Petits Chefs!).
For Week 3, everyone took a trip to Haiti, making versions of my Soupe Joumou!
Get the recipe for Haitian Soupe Joumou here!
On another note, that was also an assignment in my Grade 6 class recently! Here are the boys doing a great job!
For Week 4 of the Rotary cooking club, we had planned a big finale – a three course meal! Gougères to start, Braised Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce for mains and Chocolate Coeur à la Crème for dessert! Look what an amazing job everyone did (this is just a handful of the pics we received!)
Get the recipe for gougères in my cookbook!
Get the recipe for Braised Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce here
Get the recipe for chocolate coeur à la crème in my cookbook!
The club has been so successful everyone voted to continue! I SO look forward to Saturdays when we get together – it’s a high point of my week, to be sure!
On that note, you saw I assigned making Soupe Joumou to my Grade 6 students… Well I also assigned crêpe making to my Grade 4s and check out their great work!
Seeing their little faces so proud of their work made me miss my Petits Chefs and Aftercare cooking crew even more so I started to hatch a plan… I wondered about bring a cooking club online with even more participation than just chatting about a recipe?
And so it happened that yesterday, I hosted the first two sessions of Virtual Cooking Cooking Club. Which looked a bit like this:
(yup, that’s me on the counter!)
Kids (my students, as well as children of colleagues), in their home kitchens with parent supervision (though most of the kids did most of the work), making a recipe “together” (with me there in the little screen keeping an eye on things! Weird for sure, but SO GREAT! I’d videoed myself making the recipe from start to finish with tips and tricks along the way, sent along a list of ingredients and equipment that they needed to have ready and instructions to be ready to cook at their designated time. And so it happened that 16 families ate Gratin de Pâtes au Jambon (Cheesy Pasta Bake) from In the French kitchen with kids for dinner last night.
My heart is full. It might not be the same as cooking together in person but it was a pretty great substitute. And I loved seeing other family members getting in on the cooking action too! Onwards. These may be strange times but if we don’t pivot and adapt, we’re not making the most of a difficult situation. I can’t always pivot and adapt (and for sure, it’s HARD) but these are the perfect times to try new things and not be perfect at them. People nowadays are forgiving if things don’t go exactly to plan.
Stay tuned for more adventures from the Petits Chefs home kitchens…
MY BOOK! In the French kitchen with kids is out now! Click here for details and how to order!