Saturday, June 5, 2010


"Cooking For Kids Only"

“Grandma, send me the recipes from the cooking class; I want to make them with my friends at home!” Arianna disappeared into the jet-way adjusting her “rad” shades with one hand while the flight attendant held the other. Our 8 year-old granddaughter was set for her flight back to Seattle with a Fun Dip candy packet tucked in her pocket and a new “ultra-cool” fluorescent orange Power Puff Girls CD holder dangling from her shoulder.

She’d just spent 8 days with us, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Ed, in the small desert town of Carlsbad, New Mexico. Prior to her arrival we were concerned she might get bored hanging out with us old fogies, so I enrolled her in a “For Kids Only” summer cooking class I was teaching at the local community college. We knew swimming would be a good daily activity. And we didn’t overlook that Arianna was especially excited about meeting our dachshund, Leon, who would captivate her with his bag of tricks, which consisted mostly of begging for treats and going for walks.

Arianna was very enthusiastic about the cooking class, and took special pride in her grandmother being the teacher. After the first day of class I asked her if the other kids liked the Cocoa Snowballs as much as she did. She rolled her big brown eyes and licked her lips, “Slurp, slurp! They l-o-v-e-d the Cocoa Snowballs, Grandma!” With grandchild approval on the first day’s fare, the 3 up-coming days would be a piece of cake.

Every day after class Arianna made sure I didn’t forget about going to the pool, “Grandma, I’m steaming hot!” She shook her head like a 1940s movie starlet and lifted the black hair off her shoulders to reveal droplets of perspiration streaming down her back. The 45-degree temperature variance between Seattle and Carlsbad was melting our little water baby. So, every day after prepping for the following day’s cooking class, we were off to take a cooling dip in the pool.

In our spare time we went to see the movie Atlantis where I observed Arianna nibbling away an entire box of pink Sweet-tart candy worms. To her credit she brought home the box of Atlantis cookies to share with Grandpa Ed.

Near the end of the week, we attended Ed’s company picnic. Arianna careened through 10 kiddy carnival games before Ed and I had popped the tops off our sodas. At the picnic we were introduced to “Fun Dip” candy, which in color and texture resembles turquoise sand. That evening we were charmed into trying a new dining experience at the local Sonic Drive-in, where, besides fantastic bacon cheese burgers and onion rings, we discovered cherry lime slushies.

Arianna made several new friends in our neighborhood. This led to an overnighter at Grandma’s house. I learned that we have a lot more children on our block than I would have ever dreamed, and that the Post Cereal Company actually manufactures a cereal called “Rugrats.”

Indeed, there’s nothing like a grandchild to light-up our life, wear us to a frazzle and lead us down a slippery slope toward Snicker’s Ice Cream Bars, Atlantis cookies, and Sweet-tart worms. As if calories don’t add up fast enough as it is, grandchildren keep us current on the “really cool food” available at Mickey D’s, Kaleidoscoop and Sonic Drive-in.

My feet didn’t stop throbbing for 3 days after Arianna stepped onto her homebound airplane. Leon, who incidentally had been renamed Buddy, enjoyed an undisturbed 72 hour slumber. Ed said he felt “energized by Arianna’s visit.” Somehow, I think he’ll be smiling on the other side of his face when he bolsters the courage to step onto the scales.

Story and recipes are a reprint from Pork Chops & Applesauce: A Collection of Recipes and Reflections by Cynthia Briggs.

Cocoa Snowballs in Ice Cream Cones
1/2 cup chocolate-flavored crisp rice cereal
1/4 cup toasted coconut or colored sprinkles or stars
1/4 cup lightly toasted nuts, chopped fine
1 pint ice cream (any flavor)
4 ice cream cones

Combine the cereal, coconut and nuts in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Scoop out 4 balls of ice cream, using an ice cream scoop. Working with one scoop at a time, drop the rounded scoop into the cereal mixture. Roll the ice cream ball around until it’s well-coated. Work quickly so the ice cream doesn’t melt. Place the Snowballs on a baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until serving time. Serve Snowballs in ice cream cones or dessert dishes. Yield: 4 servings

Shaggy Dogs, a.k.a. Bully Bulldogs or Mangy Mutts
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 to 2 teaspoon shortening (not butter, margarine, milk, cream or water)
30 large marshmallows
30 toothpicks
3 cups shredded coconut or 2 cups chopped peanuts, or 2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs, or chocolate or multi-colored sprinkles

Melt chips with shortening in top of double boiler over water or in microwave (careful, chocolate burns very easily). Add more shortening if necessary to get a good dipping consistency. Remove melted chocolate from the heat; stir slightly. Place a toothpick in center of each marshmallow; dip each marshmallow into melted chocolate, covering completely, then roll in coconut. Place on waxed paper, remove toothpicks and allow Shaggy Dog to set-up for 5-15 minutes before serving. Yield: 30 dog-gone-good shaggy dogs

Quickie Mini-Pizzas
6 English Muffins
1-14 ounce jar pizza Sauce
Topping suggestions:
1 cup pepperoni, sliced thin
1 cup bulk sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped fine
1 small can sliced olives, drained
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 small can diced green chiles, drained
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 °. Split the English muffins using a fork; spread with 1 to 2 tablespoons pizza sauce; add toppings according to taste ending with Mozzarella cheese. Place pizzas on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Yield: 12 individual Mini-pizzas

Saucepan Spaghetti
1 pound lean ground beef
2 1/2 cups water
1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces angel hair OR thin spaghetti
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. When meat is brown, place it in a colander over a mixing bowl to drain excess fat. Return the drained meat to the skillet.

Stir in water, tomato sauce, onion, oregano, basil, salt garlic powder and pepper into the pan with the meat. Cover the pan and turn the burner to medium-high. When the mixture begins to boil, break the spaghetti in half and add to saucepan. Immediately turn the burner to low heat. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Yield: 4 servings

More kid friendly recipes and wholesome family stories can be found in Pork Chops & Applesauce: A Collection of Recipes and Reflections by Cynthia Briggs.

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