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The cake decorating road test

Immy & Cam are the voice here when it comes to road testing products that are geared towards the kids market. On the same day we made My Daddy Cooks Sloppy Joes and Chocolate Salami we made some basic fairy cakes and spent an afternoon decorating them using products I had been sent to trial. The ingredients that passed the test went on to be used by pupils in my cookery school over the summer. Read the rest of this entry

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Dreams

As some of you may know in July 2010 I left my job to start a business. I had taught cookery a few afternoons a week in my old school but decided to combine my science background, food geekery along with 5 years experience in education to teach children how to cook. The last year has had huge highs and lows and it’s been one steep learning curve but I don’t regret it. The smile on a child’s face when they finally master something as simple as cracking an egg without shell going everywhere is priceless. I know the market I work in is very different to similar business throughout the country and I tailor the classes depending on the pupils and area. The main goal is for me to provide accessible, realistic, cross-curricular and creative food education for all, no matter your background or budget. One of my business goals is to make enough to fund me to do MSc Food & Nutrition Policy at City. I’m getting there slowly! Read the rest of this entry

Pasta for beginners

I’ve nearly finished all the recipe testing for next week. It’s been good going over recipes to double-check they work and remind myself that ‘no’ the jelly boats we were going to make are not suitable for vegetarians (thank goodness for vege-gel).  The baked jam doughnutsI tested earlier on in the week are for the American day and the pasta is for the Italian day. It’s fair to say the children coming on the course are very much looking forward to the day as along side this pasta we’ll also be making  pizza, focaccia, lemonade and ice cream. Before today I didn’t really like fresh pasta. I’d only ever experiences the ‘fresh’ pasta you buy in the supermarket fridges. It always seemed so claggy and horrible. Today’s experiment has changed this thinking and it works out at quite a cheap way to make pasta and great for when I’ve run out of the dried variety. Read the rest of this entry

Christmas present ideas for food loving kids

It’s nearly the end of term so that means Christmas is just around the corner. I’ve been busy teaching kids the art of making mince pies. I know quite a few of my pupils have asked for food/cookery related things for Christmas and here is what I think is some of the best items out there at the moment for children with an interest in food.

Silicone cake cases – Silicone cake cases come in a multitude of shapes and sizes and are not only great for baking cakes in, but also for sorting ingredients along with making food like mini frittatas in.

Roald Dahl’s Completely Revolting Recipes – In my opinion one of the best cookery books for children out there. It’s especially popular with boys. All of the recipes featured in the book are based on food that is mentioned in Roald Dahl stories. Scrumdiddlyumptious Scrambled Dregs and bellypopping Butterscotch anyone?

Lego ice cube tray – although I’ve put this in the kid’s pressie section I know many adults, including me, who would love to find this in their stocking. Like the silicone cake moulds they have a multitude of uses. How about Minifig chocolates?

Funky Lunch – This is the brain child of Mark Northeast after wanting to make his children’s lunches more exciting. This book shows kids how they can make their sandwiches look like their favourite characters/animals. My pupils love looking at this book.

Natural History Museum Biscuit Cutters – You can never have too many biscuit cutters, but the hard part can be finding great cutters in interesting shapes. The Natural History Museum currently have a superb selection in stock along with Cake, Cookies & Crafts & TK Maxx.

Edible glitter – or Cake Makeup as Cam calls it. Glitters and lustre are popular at the moment for decorating cakes. Kids love using it. Edible glitter is non-toxic but it is still recommended just for decorating and not for eating in large amounts.

Childrens Garden Gift Voucher Rocket Gardens is a fab company that posts out baby plants to help you get on your way to growing a veg garden.

Percy Pig Apron – it’s Percy Pig, need I say more!

Jigsaw sandwich cutter – These cutters don’t just come in jigsaw shapes, but also dinosaurs and dolphins. Not only for sandwiches, but could be used with toast and biscuits.

Introducing my Little Helpers.

Although I teach children how to cook as a day job I don’t have children of my own so while at a family party to celebrate Guy Fawkes night I recruited two little helpers in the form of Cam and Immy to help me road test some Silver Spoon products including black food colouring (used on my Black Velvet Beetle Cakes), writing icing, chocolate letters, coloured coco beans and sugar strands.

Let me introduce my two new helpers:

Cam (aged 6) loves: Percy Pigs, hates: lamb

Immy (aged 10) loves: swimming, hates: onions

I made the chocolate fairy cakes and basic buttercream before hand then the Little Helpers had free rein to try the different ingredients and decorate them how they liked. As that night was the family bonfire party from early on Cam decided he wanted his cakes to look like bonfires, of which he did a superb job and Immy’s were inspired by fireworks. Cam was very much drawn to the edible glitters (from Cake Decor) in my cake decorating box and christened them Cake Makeup. One thing I did realise when processing these photos is that my camera hates taking photos of items with edible glitter on them, it just doesn’t know where to focus and leaves the pictures blurred. Apologies to Immy & Cam as these are the best pictures I got.

Cam’s verdict:

I really liked the chocolate letters they were tasty, but I couldn’t spell all my words because lots of letters were broken. The coloured coco beans were my favourite.

Unfortunately lots of the chocolate letters were broken when they arrived with me or the letters broke when being taken out of the packet. I think the packaging could really be improved to stop breakages. There also seemed to be a distinct lack of common letters and soon ran out of useable letters.

Immy’s verdict:

The writing icing is really hard to use and Jules had to help us. When the icing did come out of the tube it was difficult to control where it was going and getting it to stick. I liked the coloured coco beans the best, they are like mini smarties!

I have since found tips on how to make the writing icing easier to use.

Along with cake making they carved some pumpkins and made Guys to go on the fire. Family tradition states that I’m in charge of the mulled wine/cider and Hubs chief firework lighter as it satisfies the pyromanic in him. After watching the display we all come back inside for a big family dinner. This year’s dinner was a delicious slow roasted lamb with roasted vegetables accompanied with Beyerskloof Pinotage then followed by a cheeseboard and sticky toffee pudding. Perfect meal for Bonfire Night if you ask me.

Cam & Im are now my official testers for food related to products aimed at children and have said how they would love to try more things. Be warned Cam & Immy give Gregg Wallace & John Torrode a run for their money.

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