Jordan has really been into cooking with us lately. Any time we start preparing lunch or dinner, she runs into the kitchen and frantically asks if she can help.
She’s always loved making pretend food for us…like “pizza” made out of building blocks with a side of plastic grapes and Parmesan cheese. Or, my favorite, “apple juice” which is a plastic apple shoved into a play coffee pot, served in tiny blue tea cups with princess spoons for stirring.
But, for the past year or so, since she’s turned four, she’s shown even more interest in food and cooking. She tells me what seasonings she likes or doesn’t like in what I cook, compares different restaurants and their menus, and, for the most part, explains what about a food she likes or doesn’t like — as opposed to just saying, “I don’t like it.”
Of course, Dustin and I have loved having her in the kitchen helping. But it took a little time before she got the hang of the kitchen rules for kiddos…
- Always wash your hands before cooking. Wash them AGAIN after you sneeze on them. Or use the bathroom.
- Don’t sneeze or cough on the food. Ick.
- Always ask before grabbing something on the counter. It could be hot or sharp or raw meat.
- Keep hands away from the cutting boards unless given permission. Knives are sharp and can cut you.
- If something’s in the oven, stand back when someone opens it because it’ll be hot.
- Cooking can take a while so we need to be patient. In other words, no complaining.
- No dolls or toys in the kitchen, no matter how much Cinderella wants to see what’s happening.
She’s also learned the many benefits of cooking…like the cook always gets the first taste and the cook can sneak little nibbles while she’s cooking. She loves her nibbles.
And I love those moments of pure enjoyment of food, learning and family. And the nibbles, too.
While she loves helping make anything from tartar sauce to pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, she doesn’t always enjoying the actual eating of it. So, we thought it’d be a fun thing to start creating special time for her to cook in the kitchen with us AND actually eat it. And so, this “Jordan Cooks” series was created.
For Chef Jordan’s first recipe, she chose to make some strawberry jam. There’s a pick-your-own berry farm nearby where we all went and hand-picked a bunch of strawberries. But, you can always just buy them at the store as well. If you can, the sweeter and the fresher, the better.
The kiddos love their PB&Js so we knew they’d love making the jam. It’s a super easy and fun process that leaves you with ridiculously good jam for at least a year plus makes great gifts, too.
Jordan’s task was to help with moving the diced strawberries into the mixing bowl and then with smashing them. I gave her an apron and a potato masher and let her go to town.
She was in heaven.
I’ll be adding more kid-friendly recipes coming soon. Feel free to share in the comments what your kiddos don’t like or any struggles you have with getting your kids to eat your food.
Together, let’s get them enjoying food!
(Oh, and we totally ordered a chef hat for her but it hadn’t arrived yet when we made this jam.)
- 5 1/2 cups strawberries to make 4 cups crushed strawberries, diced
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 1 pouch CERTO Premium Liquid Fruit Pectin Sure-Jell
- optional: 1/2 tsp.. unsalted butter
- Fill a Canner half-full with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Wash the Mason Canning Jars, Lids and Bands in hot, soapy water and then rinse with warm water. Add jars, screw bands and lids to simmering water. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well.
- Place the diced strawberries, one cup at a time, into a medium mixing bowl and mash. I use a potato masher. Depending on your preference, leave some chunks of strawberries. Alternatively, you can use a food processor to chop the strawberries, but stop before the strawberries are completely pureed.
- Measure out 4 cups mashed strawberries and heat over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar to the strawberries and stir to combine. (You may add 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter to reduce the foaming if you wish. It actually does make a difference.)
- Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the pectin pouch quickly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let mixture boil over. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
- Ladle mixture into the prepared, cleaned jars. I really recommend using a Wide-Mouth Funnel to easily ladle mixture into jars. Fill each jar to within 1/8-inch from the top.
- Wipe the jar rims and threads and cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands on tightly and place jars on elevated Canning Rack in canner.
- Lower rack into canner so that water covers jars by 1 to 2 inches. If more water is needed, add boiling water. Cover and bring to gently boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars using a Jar Lifter and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of the lid with your finger. If lid springs/pops back, it is not sealed and that jar will need to be refrigerated.
- Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Store unopened jam in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate opened jams for up to 3 weeks.