I find it is a lovely pleasure to introduce my Grandchildren to the joy of cooking. I have often made cookies with them and decorated sugar cookies at Christmas but until recently I did not attempt to prepare those little ones to cook a meal on their own.
What I have learned from our adventures in the kitchen is the importance of having the right equipment to make each child confident of success and of starting with the young cook’s favourite food. For instance, my Granddaughter and I began by making lasagna. This might seem foolhardy but she was highly motivated to make her favourite dinner, one that she could only have on rare occasions because her parents did not make lasagna. I broke the recipe into distinct parts: meat sauce, noodles, Ricotta-cheese mixture, and Mozzarella/ Parmessan mixture. We prepared each part separately and finally put it all together and baked it. First we prepared the lasagna together then she did it alone with me sitting near by to take her questions and then she and a friend made the lasagna with me in the next room – just in case. A while ago, over the phone, I asked my daughter if my Granddaughter had continued to make lasagna and was told that at that very moment she was in the kitchen preparing a lasagna supper for her parents and little brother.
I did buy silicone oven-mitts and a very easy-to-use hand cranked vegetable chopper as my Granddaughter told me she was nervous about burning herself on the oven and she also found chopping onions unpleasant and a little scary and she didn’t want to use the electric food processor. She now makes the following meals: macaroni and cheese, ground beef casserole, lasagna (of course), roast pork with a Rosemary rub, and most recently, lemon pie with merengue.
Here is the lasagna recipe adapted for a 10 year old cook
1 pound of ground beef
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (796 ml)
I container of Ricotta cheese (500grams)
One half cup of Parmesan cheese
4 cups of grated Mozzerella cheese
12 lasagna noodles (the no boil kind)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
Set oven to bake at 375 degrees F.
There are 4 parts to making lasagna
1. The meat sauce
peel the onion and garlic cloves and chop in the hand cranked food processor
place a large frying pan on the burner and set to number 8
Add the ground beef to the frying pan. Add the salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Do break up the lumps of ground beef with a wooden spoon. Cook until all the meat is brown. Now add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook stirring slightly until the onion pieces are soft. Now add the can of tomatoes. Reduce the heat of the burner to 6 and cook for 10 minutes. Set the meat sauce aside.
2. The Ricotta cheese mixture
Break the egg into a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg then add the Ricotta cheese and the Parmesan cheese and mix together. Set aside
3. Grate 4 cups of Mozzerella cheese and set aside
4. Take 12 noodles from the box of lasagna noodles and set aside
Assemble the lasagna
1. Place the lasagna pan on the counter
2. Spread one cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
3. Place 4 of the lasagna noodles over the meat sauce so they cover the bottom of the pan
4. Now comes one half of the ricotta cheese mixture ( just drop spoonfuls sprinkled over the noodles until half of the mixture is in the pan – there is no need to spread the cheese mixture.
5. Dribble one cup of the meat mixture over the Ricotta cheese mixture
6. Place one cup of the grated Mozzarella cheese over the ricotta cheese mixture.
7. 4 more lasagna noodles come next
8. Sprinkle spoonfuls of the rest of the Ricotta cheese mixture (every last bit) on the noodles.
9. Now another cup of meat sauce
10. Next another cup of the grated Mozzarella cheese
11. Place the last of the noodles over the Mozzarella
12. The last of the meat sauce goes on the noodles
13. And cover with the last of the Mozzarella
14. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
15. Bake or 30 minutes
16. Remove the foil and bake the lasagna for 10 more minutes
17. Remove the lasagna from the oven
18. Turn off the oven
19. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes