by Elizabeth Trementozzi Krause
Simple Italian Cooking
here are lots of ways to spend time with kids which do not break the budget. But coming up with ways to spend time with our kids is not always as easy as it sounds. It is easy to grab a movie and pop it in the player to pass a few hours in the afternoon. However, there are other options as well.
Many of these ideas involve the use of the kitchen. Most kids enjoy spending time in the kitchen, because for them food is exciting and something new. Here are five food activities which are fun not only for the child, but also for the adult.
Think of the Current Season or Upcoming Holiday
Kids are not the only ones who love cookies and cupcakes. Let's face it we all do. If you know a holiday, birthday, or other special event is just around the corner, this is a great time to think up some ideas for cookies or cupcakes that you and your child can make suitable for the occasion. For example if it is close to the 4th of July, then decorating cupcakes with red, white, and blue colored frosting on top is a good idea. Try creating shapes with the cookies, such as stars to represent the stars on our flag. Be creative!
Make a Dinner for a Family in Need
We do not have to look far to find somebody that we know who might be in need of a free meal. It could be due to financial circumstances, or perhaps related to time constraints, such as a family emergency which leaves the mother with very little time and energy to cook. Another example could be a friend who is expecting a baby - or just had one. Offering a prepared meal regardless of the circumstance is always appreciated.
This is a great way to teach your children at an early age the lessons of compassion, and learning the value of helping others in need.
Plant and Grow a Garden
This could be a food garden such as an herb or vegetable garden, but can also be a flower garden. Of course, it is mostly girls which like growing flowers, unless it is a sunflower - which every kid loves to watch grow because they get so big. Taking the kids out to water the garden, or tend to the garden, such as pulling weeds or trimming, is a great way to spend time together outside in the fresh air.
Growing a garden is a good summer project because it is more than a one day affair. By having the child involved in the process from choosing which plants to grow, to planting them, to watering and tending and to harvesting, the child learns the value of patience and reaping the rewards of working hard. When a child sees their own tomatoes, or other vegetables, used at the dinner table there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
Help at a Soup Kitchen
If your child is older in age such as a preteen or teen, have a regular day of the month, or even week, set aside to help out a local soup kitchen. This is a good activity with long-term moral and ethical benefits. Children which see at an early age the value of helping the poor will help them appreciate things which they have. In fact, it can be just as important for the adult, as it is for the child.
Spending time with kids can be just as rewarding for you as it is for them. Choosing to spend time in meaningful and productive activities can help build a stronger relationship and foundation between you and your children. If you find yourself running out of ideas, do not be discouraged. Keep a box or notebook on hand with your ideas and activities which you can refer back to. When you discover that your children enjoys a particular activity, make a note of it or schedule it in for later to do it again.
Make Homemade Pizza
Kids always love pizza, and when they can make it themselves it is even more fun. Before you make the pizza dough, sit down with your kids and come up with some fun ideas for toppings. Children always love to personalize their own pizzas. You can choose to make your own pizza from scratch and can do everything by hand, such as mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough - which children love to be a part of.
You can save some time by using a machine to mix the dough for you, such as a Cuisinart food processor or other machine. On the other hand, if making your own dough is out of the question, consider buying a premade pizza crust from the store. Some ideas for fun toppings, or pizza themes could be a Hawaiian pizza which uses pineapple chunks and ham. Or you could do an Italian theme pizza using tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese also known as a Margarita pizza. Kids typically love pepperoni, but if you are vegetarian you can always try vegetarian pepperoni which is made from tofu.
Elizabeth Trementozzi Krause is the youngest of five children whose mother was very good at keeping her and her siblings away from the TV by spending time doing creative activities. She now lives in Virginia with her husband, and is the publisher of an Italian cooking website called SimpleItalianCooking.com where she shares her family recipes and writes about various kitchenware products such as finding an Italian stovetop espresso maker, or reviewing which is the best Italian ice cream maker for gelato.
By the way: For more great ideas on cooking with kids, check out Kid-Approved Meals.