A recent Facebook post from my friend Andy showed his daughter stirring scrambled eggs on the stove. It made me think I should start teaching my boys how to do more in the kitchen than use the microwave, but I'm still worried about them burning the house down — or burning themselves!
My youngest, Sam, does love to cook, though. Amy gifted my boys Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes and it's perfect for cooking with kids. Sam has bookmarked quite a few recipes inspired by the characters in Dahl's books.
We took a stab at making Mr. Twit's Beard Food and it was pretty fun — and definitely the kind of thing many boys would enjoy eating. Mr. Twit's most noticeable trait is his very messy beard, which contains leftovers from his meals. Yuck. But who doesn't like playing with their food?
You can change things up anyway you like with this general recipe. Since mashed potatoes form the base, you can let your child craft an edible version or his or her favorite character. I could see my niece Layne forming Elsa's long braid instead of a mashed potato beard, for example.
So, if you're faced with a rainy day or a long afternoon, get into the kitchen with your kiddos and see what they create.
Edible Beard Man
Inspired by Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes cookbook
3 large potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
(Note: Feel free to use instant mashed potatoes instead. Follow package directions.)
3-4 cocktail franks
1 hard boiled egg
1 black olive or 2 raisins
1 slice bread
Small bag potato sticks or "fries" (I mean the kind from the potato chip aisle, but you could also use cooked french fries.)
Small bag pretzel sticks
Handful of cornflakes
1/2 shredded cheese
Optional: 1/4 cup peas or carrots, 1/4 baked beans, ketchup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Place in medium pot and cover with water. Boil until potatoes are soft. Drain potatoes and return them to the pot. Add butter and milk and mash until everything is combined. Set aside and let cool for a few minutes.
Cover a baking sheet with foil.
Peel the egg and cut it in half.
Using about 1/3 of the mashed potatoes, form a base for the face on the baking sheet. It should resemble the outline of a football. Then use the rest of the mashed potatoes to form a beard that tapers at the end. You can make your beard rounded or pointy.
Position the egg halves within the opening of the face to form the eyes. You can flip the rounded yolk halves and place them upside down on the egg whites to make building eyes. Add a raisin or piece of black olive for the center of the eye.
Separate a mushroom stem from its cap and place between the egg eyes. Use two mushroom caps to make nostrils at the bottom of the mushroom stem.
Use the two remaining mushroom caps to make the ears.
Slice the crust off the bread and place it above the eggs to make eyebrows.
Slice the franks lengthwise but not all the way through. Place them on the mashed potatoes to form a mouth. Using the remaining bread, make teeth by pinching small pieces of bread together and rolling them into a pointy shape. Put the bread teeth between the sliced franks so they stick out at odd angles.
Next, make the hair. Stick the potato sticks or fries into the mashed potatoes above the eyes and ears.
Then, fill in the beard! Use potato sticks, pretzel sticks, cornflakes and whatever else your child likes to eat to make a messy-looking beard. Squirts of ketchup or dollops of baked beans look great.
Sprinkle the beard with cheese. Warm in oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Then watch as your child devours his or her creation.