Friday, May 25, 2012

Cooking - Individual Fruit Crisps

Yesterday we did some cherry picking, so today we did some cherry pitting and cherry crisp baking. 

For those of you here only for the recipe...

Cooking with preschoolers is SO important. It is the only activity that engages all five senses. Everything experienced during a cooking activity will have around a 50% retention rate. 
Which is AMAZING!

These can be done as a class activity.

 The oldest at almost 4 was able to use the cherry pitter independently.

The next oldest at almost 3 needed some teacher assistance with the pitter. BUT, if I used the pitter and gave the cherries to her, she was able to get the seeds out independently. [This pitter DOES NOT pit the seed unless you get a lucky strike. It more mushes the seed out and you have to peel it away.]
 Miss H put more in her mouth than the bowl.
 I only had one 2 year-old today, who had gotten up early and was pretty spaced out about everything, so no clue on to what they could have really done with this activity.

This was NOT a clean activity, so they wore their paint shirts inside out [so paint chips wouldn't potentially get into the food.] With juice flying, I wouldn't recommend just aprons for this activity.

I could only find ONE ramekin in my kitchen last night, no matter how intensively I searched, so I made a trip to Target. Their cute ramekins are NOT oven safe. I finally found the oven safe ones, glass 6 oz. by Anchor, .99 each.

Then we started cooking.

I planned to do a cobbler, but with a lactose intolerant child, I couldn't find anything that didn't include milk. Not that that was an issue, as I could have just substituted soy, but I really wasn't into a group of YOUNG preschoolers trying to measure SMALL quantities of liquid. I saw visions of  milk tsunamis.

I searched the internet for recipes, fell in love with one by the Pioneer Woman, and found several on Allrecipes. But, when trying to make them into single serving quantities, it just got WAY too complicated for ME, let alone the children. 

So I created my own. It's now on if you want a nice neat print out.

After turning on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees, the first thing I did was cover my small baking sheet with foil and emboss their initials on it so I could identify who's was who's during the activity and after baking.

1/2 C fruit
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch 
Combine in OVEN SAFE ramekin.

Easy Peasy Topping:
2 Tablespoons oats
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons margarine 
1/4 Teaspoon allspice OR cinnamon

Which means the children only have to use a tablespoon for measuring, and the allspice I just had them shake some into their bowl. The margarine has those nice markings on the side for us to use and discuss. 

We also discussed how everything was in PAIRS and counted our allspice shakes. We touched, smelled, tasted and discussed all the ingredients.

 They combined the dry, then added the margarine and I put into a microwave safe bowl and heated for 10 seconds to JUST melt. Then they stirred it up and topped their fruit.

Bake times vary: 
20 minutes for fresh soft fruit, like cherries, blueberries, raspberries
45 minutes for firm fresh fruit [large dice] like apple and pear 
  OR any type of frozen fruit

After nap, the crisps were nice and cool for snack 
and got rave reviews.
 We didn't, but I suggest serving with 
whipped cream or ice cream.

This would be quite doable with a group of four- or five-year-olds using prepared fruit. Provide a tablespoon, bowl and ramekin to each, and pass the ingredients in order. The margarine can be melted and cooled prior to the activity. This could be done in a classroom with an electric convection oven, which would bake them faster. The oven instructions should indicate the time change needed.
  • We used margarine due to the dairy allergy, but of course you could use butter. To reduce the fat content, replace 1/2 of the margarine with applesauce.
  • The type of fruit is totally up to you. Try combinations! My wholesale store has a frozen blueberry, blackberry and raspberry blend that would be terrific. Apples and cherries, pears and figs, peaches and mango... 
  • I tried an apple one, and I add a little cinnamon into the fruit mixture as well. For firm fruit, like apples or pears, you may want to add a tablespoon of fruit juice for added liquid, as the fruit will not mush apart like soft fruit to create a nice syrup. 
  •  A tablespoon of nuts of your choice can also be added to the topping mixture. I'm thinking for trading the oats for flax meal next time. We used quick oats for a finer texture, but rolled oats would work fine.
  •  The type of sugar or flour is up to you. I prefer white sugar with blueberries and other bush fruit, brown sugar with cherries, apples and other tree fruits. Dry sugar substitutes or honey would work.
  • It would also work as a dinner party pre-dinner activity. Lay out a make-your-own table and have guests create their own concoctions following the basic recipe. Fold a piece of foil into sections for the ramekins to sit upon on a baking sheet. The guests emboss their name on it before putting their ramekin on it for serving identification.  
Math: measuring, measuring units, rote counting, pairs, sequencing
Science: dry/solid vs liquid, mixtures, heat, changes
Cooking: reading a recipe, measuring
Language: vocabulary, adjectives, sounding out ingredient labels
Fine motor
Social: following directions, taking turns, patience, delayed gratification
Tags: cooking, cherry, apple, blueberry, pear, blackberry, raspberry, cobbler, crisp, cherry crisp, individual, serving, preschool, daycare, childcare, parent, cooking, kids, math, science, fine motor, sensory

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea, but I'm limited to a microwave as far as heat sources go. Got any suggestions for how I might be able to make some microwave friendly adaptations? I was also thinking about peaches instead... they might cook faster?