Long ago my daughter was helping pour cereal and make toast for my younger ones, and of course brewing up coffee or tea for the adults. They are chore chart jobs she always cheerfully performs, and she's a helpful sort. Recently, her culinary interests have escalated, partly thanks to the last series of The Great British Bake Off and her discovery of MasterChef Junior. Not one to squander such blatantly useful passion pursuit, we quickly set up a footstool in the kitchen and optimistically settled in the lounge.
Markedly, I didn't have to set one foot in the kitchen as these dishes were all done with complete instructions from the sofa one Saturday – even the symmetrical fruit positioning. There are quite a few egg variations on here because my fam all like them in different ways on different days. But they are also great starter dishes and satisfying to present. Plus they all require quite different skills.
Poached eggs on toast
Tricky to get right, her first attempt was a roaring success, with a bulbous, perfectly runny egg using the vinegar-in-boiling-water method and a slotted spoon. She timed the toast just right as well. We thought it possibly a delicious fluke.
She then made three plain omelettes, and they all pretty much looked like this. There were many happy faces around the breakfast table, including mine because she even made me coffee.
She herself wanted a fried egg – and also wanted to test out another variety. She really nailed it too, but such was her success that she had to share half of this with her wide-eyed younger brother after he'd finished his.
Tuna sweetcorn sandwiches
A staple favourite of my British husband. And very handy when we're out in the garden mucking about and don't want to stop to prepare lunch (she does offer believe it or not – and may or may not have alien DNA).
Grilled cheese and apple sandwiches with tomato soup
Apple, you say? Yes, it's odd to think about – like the first time we served my grandad apple pie and he asked me for a piece of cheese on top – but it's one of those sweet, all-American combos that seems to work. The tomato soup wasn't homemade, but it's well heated – so baby steps.
She makes a few jars of this on Sunday evenings for on-the-go breakfasts when needed throughout the week. Her fave combo is blueberries with milk and maple syrup, but she's been known to substitute the blueberries for plum or apple, the milk for Greek yoghurt and the maple syrup for honey. She even puts chia seeds in mine (none for her though).
I am not immune to trends, and with this job I know I gotta keep things healthy when I can. She's watched me make a green apple, kale, spinach, lemon, maple syrup, flaxseed concoction for a couple years and can now produce a far tastier beverage than I (could be the syrup-to-veg ratio, but I'm not complaining).
Strawberry banana smoothie
After her success with the green juice, she started making this one when she realised she could replicate her favourite blended drink from our local shop. It sometimes involves pieces of dark chocolate if we have some handy.
I can attest that the spoils of this newfound fancy are substantial come weekend mornings and Sunday lunchtimes. I'll work on supper next. I do imagine it's harder for me to be objective about her cooking because a) I didn't have to make it and b) she's my offspring and thus proud mothering plays a part, but her food is goo-ood. That's good with four os and a hyphen for added emphasis. The dishes are certainly not MasterChef Junior calibre, but she's only just started – and if you get the simple stuff right, who knows what will come next? My taste buds are certainly excited to find out. Then perhaps our feet can stay firmly up on the coffee table come mealtimes. We get to say its education and fostering her interests while gently enslaving her into feeding our family. That's just good parenting, right?
*In the interest of full disclosure, here's what happened when I let her go rogue: