This article’s title covers a lot of the parenting experience! Learning and teaching is a two-way street – you and your kids are both engaged in learning and teaching all the time, and it’s not always the parent who does the teaching.
Just think about how often you have to ask your kids how to deal with modern technology…
However, you may still have the edge on them with the more hands-on aspects of life, like growing food, cooking, keeping track of the finances, looking after the pets, and preventing the house from becoming a total tip (just to name a few).
The main thing is, we can all learn from each other and we can all teach each other. It can be a lot of fun. Kids enjoy teaching their parents things. You could start with almost anything.
Ukelele fun anyone?
For example, it’s become really popular to teach children the ukulele at school (it may have replaced the plastic recorder). Ukuleles are fun, and they’re cheap, so even if you’ve never played anything, you can probably get your brain around three chords and a nice easy strum, especially if your eight-year- old is encouraging you and showing you how to do it.
Before you know it, you may have a local ukulele orchestra on your hands!
Grow, by growing
The other fun thing, for almost everyone, is food. Again, it’s surprising how many schools are teaching kids the basics of gardening, so even if you don’t know much about raising plants from seed, chances are your kids have had a go at school and they can tell you what to do.
Of course, some of you will be expert gardeners yourselves, and will have a huge amount you can show your children and their friends about how to grow things, whether they be flowers, herbs, vegetables or fruit trees.
Even if you haven’t got much space, you can always grow a few herbs or salad veg in a pot on the balcony, and it’s great to eat something you’ve grown yourself.
Learn through cooking
Once you’ve grown some food, cooking with it is the next obvious step. Once children get to intermediate school, they’re likely to be getting cooking lessons along with a variety of craft skills, so get them into the kitchen, ask what they’ve learnt about and encourage them to cook for the family.
They might well have picked up some recipes and tips you don’t know about!
And, if they haven’t, but you have some simple recipes on hand, help them learn by working with them. Some tasty pancakes, or homemade biscuits for the lunchbox are always going to be a source of pride and enjoyment (who remembers learning to make peppermint crunch in school cooking lessons? Do today’s cooking teachers still hand out that recipe?).
To get the ball rolling, here’s are a few simple recipes you can share with your kids – just remember to ask them if they’ve got some they can share with you too!
Ham and Cheese (or Corn and Cheese) Croquettes
These take a little while to make but they’re really tasty!
- 4 medium potatoes (preferably Agrias), peeled, cooked and mashed with no added butter or oil (that comes later)
- 60g butter
- ¼ cup fine white rice flour, plus an extra ½ cup for coating the croquettes
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cups grated tasty cheese
- 1 cup chopped ham OR 1 cup sweet corn kernels, lightly cooked
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups crushed cornflakes or dry breadcrumbs to coat the croquettes
- Vegetable oil for shallow frying
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft.
Add the ¼ cup of rice flour and stir to mix well.
Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk.
Return to the heat and cook, stirring continually, until the mix boils and thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the potato, cheese, ham or sweetcorn, and parsley. Chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Line an oven tray with baking paper.
Divide the mix into about 10 or 12 even-sized lumps and shape each into a small log.
Place the extra flour, the beaten egg and the cornflakes/breadcrumbs into separate plates. Roll each log in rice flour, then dip in egg and finally roll in crushed cornflakes/crumbs.
Place each log on the prepared tray and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Heat cooking oil in a large frying pan over high heat and shallow fry the croquettes in batches for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown all over.
Serve with salad and, if you like it, try sweet chilli sauce as an accompaniment. Plum sauce is also a possibility.
To cook the pears
- Peel and remove cores, and cut out any damaged bits.
- Place the pears in a suitably-sized saucepan and just cover with water. I also add a small amount of ground cloves (just ¼ to ½ teaspoon, depending how big the pile of pears is)
- Bring to the boil then turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan and simmer until the pears are tender (probably 10 to 20 minutes).
- Add sugar to taste near the end of the cooking process – I usually add somewhere between ¼ and 1 cup, depending again on the size of the heap of pears. Test for what suits you.
- To use the pears in a crumble, drain as many as you need in a big sieve or a colander to get all the extra fluid off them – otherwise your crumble will be watery and sloppy! Any extra pears can just be stored in their liquid in a covered bowl in the fridge, and eaten with breakfast cereal, or for desserts with ice cream or custard.
This is a really easy, foolproof crumble topping.
- 120g butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups rolled oats ( I prefer the quick-cook porridge oats because they’re a bit more tender, but any rolled oats will do)
- 1 1/3 cups flour
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Place cooked pears in an oven-proof dish (a shallow glass casserole bowl is good). If you like a bit of variety, mix in a handful of sultanas. You can also finely slice a few pieces of crystallised ginger and mix those in as well.
Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top in a good thick layer.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is lightly browned. (Check regularly after the first 20 minutes to be sure nothing is burning!)
Serve warm with custard, whipped cream or ice cream. Leftover crumble also makes a rather nice breakfast, without the cream, ice cream or custard of course (alright, maybe with some cream!).