Recently, at morning drop off, Kingston and I stepped into the Sweetpeas schoolyard to be greeted by the most delicious aroma. Instantly, I thought of black bean soup, chili. Mexican.
Miss Gregory was at it again, and this being Tuesday, Soup Day, I knew she was cooking up some kind of vegetable concoction with cumin in the little classroom kitchen. Cumin isn't a spice I naturally associate with cooking to please a typical American kid's palate. But of course cumin and many other spices are fed to children all over the world, from birth on (or actually even before). In fact, there is evidence that food choices mothers make during pregnancy can affect the palates, future food preferences and food memories of their children.
How cool is that?
When I walked into the kitchen that day, Gregory was busy chopping onions and carrots. I told her the schoolyard smelled amazing. We chatted on, discussing ways to get kids to try new flavors.
"Peer pressure," she told me. "When everyone's eating the same thing together, they feel like they want to eat it too."
She went on to remind me that we have to offer new foods many times to kids so that they eventually try it, become familiar with it, and eventually fold it into the range of flavors their palates find acceptable. Quite sensible, and a tactic I vow to use more. As an adult, it's sometimes easy for me to forget that learning encompasses everything for a young child, including what different foods taste like. Sometimes it's also easier to bypass the wrinkled nose and protesting and instead offer the same things until everyone ends up in a rut.
When I left Gregory that morning, I felt inspired to follow her lead, including by eating the same meals together at home rather than making something separate for the kiddo. I'll also keep inviting Kingston into the kitchen to help with the cooking. Food always tastes better when everyone helps to make it. At least that's what I tell him.
Here's to exploring new foods, more flavors and having fun in the kitchen!
Corn and Cumin Crackers
These are great fun for to make with a kid helper by your side. I wanted to get Kingston more familiar with the taste of cumin, so I combined it with corn, which he really likes. Here, I used corn flour, which adds sweetness and a beautiful golden color. These are delicious and keep for at least a week in an airtight container. As Kingston says, "I could eat these all day."
Makes about 4 dozen.
1 cup bread flour
1 cup corn flour*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine bread flour, corn flour, kosher salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Work in butter with hands or a pastry cutter. Stir in the milk. Knead the dough until it comes together. Roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 1/8" thick. Cut into small squares and transfer them to prepared baking sheets. Dock the surface of each square two or three times with the tines of a fork. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden. These are great eaten alone or with some cheddar cheese.
*Corn flour is much more finely ground than cornmeal. I used flour from Bob's Red Mill for this recipe.