Friday, 3 May 2013

Knife skills with the Brownies

When you're cooking with children and restricted time-wise, there's undoubtedly the tendency to concentrate on bakes or icing. Those low effort high excitement activities. However, one of the things I'm quite keen on is instilling the fact that cooking isn't just baking and involves other things. This week we tried new fruit and practiced our knife skills.

Brownies is an excellent opportunity to do just this - our meetings last for an hour and a half and we go away at least once a year on a Brownie holiday. This week we were doing an Island hopping night - playing games and doing activities from different places around the world. The gorgeous weather leant itself to our planned food activity brilliantly. 

Fruit kebabs is an oft repeated activity with Brownies, but one they love (and chose themselves). We try to vary the fruit on offer to encourage them to try new flavours and textures. The only rule is that if you haven't tried it before you give it a little taste, and you do your own chopping and assembling. As you can see from the photo above we use table knives for the chopping and cocktail sticks for the kebabs (of course you could use kebab sticks, but we find that 4 mini kebabs are more attractive than one huge one)

We assign one adult to each table, and demonstrate the bridging technique to each girl. 

Making sure they're holding their knife correctly and using two fingers of the other hand to hold the fruit stable (to make a bridge), 
If it's a round fruit, often we or an older girl will make a flat end to make it more stable. 
Holding the knife below their 'bridge' they chop each thing into bite sized pieces before threading it on the sticks. 
For kiwi fruit, they make a little incision into the skin first to help make the cut

Fruits we tried this week were: mango, pineapple, kiwi, and oranges. Everyone tried everything and we had 2 coverts to kiwi fruit - apparently they had refused to try it previously because it was green! 

Practicing knife skills may seem like a small thing, but when we go away on Brownie holiday we get the girls to help chop carrots, potatoes, and even fruit for their elevenses so being able to do so safely is indispensable. 

You can see on the tables we use plastic mats for hygiene (these are dishwashed afterwards), and table mats. Hands are washed before and after the activity. Hair is tied back, and when made we put the kebabs onto paper plates (to reduce washing up as much as anything else!) 

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