Teaching kids to cook is a privilege. I feel so much pride when I see what kids are capable of creating in the kitchen, and love to be a part of their new experiences of food. That’s how I felt today when we pulled this gorgeous Olive & Herb Damper out of the oven to serve alongside their Leek, Potato & Cauliflower Soup, two of the dishes on the menu this week. (And just in case you’re wondering, yes, they did make the ones shown here!).
In each kitchen class, the kids use produce that they have grown in their school garden to create five dishes, which we then share together as a lively, sociable meal. At the end, there’s a flurry of activity to get it all cleaned up before the bell.
When I’m planning the menu, I have to say that I never give a thought to what I think the kids will happily eat. The classes are all about pushing the boundaries of their experience of food, and making delicious new discoveries along the way. Keeping them within their comfort zone would give them a duller, more limited experience in my view.
I never cease to be delighted by the comments the kids make when eating the food we’ve prepared. Today, for example:
‘I usually hate olives, but this tastes really good!’
‘Yes, that’s because we chopped the olives’.
‘These olives don’t taste like olives, they’re really nice. They taste like sultanas’. (Sultanas?? Okay then…)
Of course some of them picked the olives out, which is fine by me. They are still experiencing some of the olive flavour in the damper that’s left, having close encounter with an unfamiliar food, and learning how to deal quietly with food they don’t like. Cultivating a love of a variety of foods is a journey that, for many kids, is best taken in tiny, meandering steps.
Kalamata Olive & Herb Damper
3 ½ cups self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp caster sugar
40 g butter
½ cup milk
1 cup water, approximately
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup fresh herbs (such as oregano, sage, thyme, parsley), finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl and rub in butter. Add the olives and herbs and mix until they are well coated in the flour.
Stir in the milk and enough water to make a sticky dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is just smooth. It’s important not to over work the dough or it will become tough.
Divide dough in half and place halves onto greased oven trays. Shape into rounds, and mark the rounds into 8 wedges.
Brush dough with a little extra milk, then bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.