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Published: Tuesday, 1/9/2001

Kitchen can be a classroom

Although young cooks with recipes for the Easy-Bake Oven never came my way as I requested last month, I discovered more ideas for young cooks.

Sue Haefner of Columbus bought her daughter, Katie, an Easy-Bake Oven when she was 3. “I'm a huge baker, but I found mothers do not bake with their girls any more,” said Mrs. Haefner, a Perrysburg native. “They may cook, but they do not take time to bake.”

At 7, Katie's still interested in Easy-Bake Oven, but now she cooks with her parents. “She's really into helping,” said her mother, who adapted Jiffy cake mixes for the Easy-Bake Oven.

“I used Jiffy cake mixes, adding chocolate chips or little candies or raisins. I also used a sugar cookie mix in a pouch. Mix the cake mix according to package directions and fill pan two-thirds full for the Easy-Bake Oven. Or, flatten cookie dough to fit the size of pan. Cook according to time of Easy-Bake. That was tricky. I cooked it half the time suggested and checked, and then put it in for the rest of the time.”

Young cooks with a parent can always resort to flour, egg, milk, and sugar to create confections. “That's when Katie experimented,” said Mrs. Haefner. “As she got older, I encouraged her. . . . A lot of times it ended up in the trash, but she learned [how to combine] certain ingredients.”

“I've used my own chocolate-chip recipe in the Easy-Bake Oven. She used my dough. The cookie took longer and we made it thinner. We baked one cookie at a time.” They did turn out, Mrs. Haefner reports.

Hannah, 5, and Morgan Bakies, 7, received replacement mixes for the Easy-Bake Oven they got for Christmas 1999. “The Easy-Bake Oven uses the beginning steps to teach children to bake,” said dietitian Karen Bakies, the girls' mother, who thinks there's a host of reasons for getting children into the kitchen. They learn about nutrition, and cooking teaches reading, measurement, and sequencing, and the interactions of ingredients, or food chemistry.

Beyond baking, there are other recipes sure to interest junior cooks, such as the Mini Meatloaf Boat pictured above. Divide your favorite meatloaf recipe into six mini loaves. After baking them about 30 minutes to desired doneness, top with a tablespoon of salsa. Kids will have fun making a sail from a pretzel stick and cheese slice for each meatloaf “boat.”

Or, consider a cooking class. Kitchen Tools & Skills at 26597 North Dixie Hwy in Perrysburg, will have two classes for cooks 10 to 13 years old: Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Kids' Breakfast; Jan. 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mexican LaZonya (lasagna) based on Lickety-Split Meals, a cookbook by Zonya Foco.

Classes are $15 each. Deadline for reservations is the Wednesday before each class. Call 872-9090.

If play-acting catches your culinary interest, consider The Fairy Tale Cookbook by Sandre Moore ($14.95, Cumberlandhouse Publishing). Recipes include King Babar's French Toast, Sleeping Beauty's 16th Birthday Cake, and the Curious George Banana Milkshake.

Create recipes using the annual favorite cookies of Americana. Girls Scouts of Maumee Valley Council's Cookie Sale will be held through Jan. 22. Eight varieties include the new Aloha Chips, a buttery cookie with macadamia nuts.

To order, consult the Girl Scout in your neighborhood or call 255-7538.

Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at food@theblade.com.



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