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Cooking with the Kids

Updated: May 5, 2020

I put together a list of some of my favorite recipes to make with campers and my own kids, or for them to even do by themselves! Check it out and post your creations on Instagram - make sure to tag Tumbleweed at @tumbleweedcamp.

I know cooking can be a little intimidating for some folks and especially so with children around. Cooking and baking are great educational experiences and are often very forgiving when it comes to making mistakes. Try not to be too micromanaging with your kiddos - even little ones can learn how to use a knife, stir a pot, crack an egg - they just need to be shown how and taught how to be safe.

Ice Cream #1

Love me some home-made ice cream. This recipe is not so much an exact science and more of a trial and error situation.

You will need:

Gallon size plastic bag OR empty gallon paint can

Quart size plastic bag OR empty quart (or smaller) paint can

Lots of ice

Rock salt or "ice cream salt"

Whole milk 2 cups

Sugar 1/2 cup

Vanilla Extract 1 tablespoon

Chopped fruit (optional)

Candy, sprinkles, or chocolate chips (optional)

Food coloring (optional)

This is a great activity to do outside on a hot day since it involves it can get a little messy.

  1. Take your milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and any flavorings, and mix them together in the quart size bag, make sure they are well incorporated.

  2. In your gallon size bag (or can) fill up 1/2 way with ice, leaving enough room for the smaller bag or can to fit inside. Sprinkle a bunch of rock salt over the ice, about 5-10 tablespoons. You can always add more later.

  3. Put the smaller can or bag inside the gallon size one and seal the gallon size container tightly.

  4. Now, SHAKE THAT BAG LIKE CRAZY! Shake, shake, shake... shake until you can't shake anymore. Seriously, you will need to shake the bag to agitate the ice and rock salt to make it as cold as possible. Sometimes the bag or can gets too cold! Wear oven mitts to keep your hands warm.

  5. You might notice that you have more water in the big container than ice. Dump out some of the water, place it with ice and more rock salt and shake some more.

  6. Your ice cream will be ready when it is solid. Depending on how fast you shake, you could be done in 10 minutes!

Ice Cream #2

This recipe is more legit. Adapted from the famous San Fransisco Ice Cream parlor, Humphry Slocombe, this recipe will make you never want to get ice cream from the store again. This does require some special equipment, so plan ahead.

Adapted from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book

You will need:

a blender or food processor

a fine-mesh strainer

an ice cream maker

1 pound fresh ripe strawberries, hulled and halved

2 cups heavy cream, cold

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (trust us! it helps balance the sweetness of the condensed milk)


  1. Place 1 pound fresh strawberries in your blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree. Strain into a medium bowl using a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds (you can also leave it unstrained, but your strawberry ice cream won't be as smooth).

  2. Once the strawberry puree has been strained into the bowl, add 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved. Once the mixture is smooth, taste your ice cream batter — if it needs more sugar, add a pinch, if it’s too sweet, add a splash of red wine vinegar.

  3. Once you're satisfied with the flavor of your ice cream, transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer's instructions. The ice cream will be ready once it looks frozen and the ice cream has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Eat immediately, or transfer into an airtight container and freeze for a few hours if you prefer a more frozen texture.


Home Made Butter

Why I don't do this more often... who knows?! It's so easy and is so fresh that it is the perfect table item for all meals. It does take a bit of arm strength, so you might have to switch off with the kiddos. Maybe don't make ice cream and butter in the same day as well :)

You will need: • 1 pint sized (16 oz) mason jar • 1 cup heavy cream (38% fat content) • cold water PRO TIP: if you want to speed up the churning process, add a clean marble to your jar or something else small and clean. This will work as an agitator and help churn the butter a bit faster.

1. Pour heavy cream into the mason jar, filling it half-way full. Screw the lid on. 2. Shake mason jar for approximately 5-7 minutes. After the first 2 minutes you'll have whipped cream. Keep shaking until you hear that a lump has formed inside, and shake an additional 30-60 seconds after that. 3. Remove the solids from the jar. The remaining liquid is buttermilk. You can save that for other recipes, or discard it. 4. Place the solids into a small bowl. Pour cold water over the butter and use your hands to squish it into a ball. Discard water and repeat rinsing 2 times more. 5. At this point you have butter. You can add in things like salt, honey, and herbs to create flavored butters, or serve in its pure form as is

How should I store my homemade butter? How long will it last? The butter will stay good for 3-5 days at room temperature, and about 7-10 days refrigerated. Store it with the lid on. The liquid leftover after the butter forms is buttermilk! You can also store this in the fridge for about a week for later use.


Bagel Bites!

One of the easiest dinners to make with the kids! This will definitely bring back some 90s memories. I recommend getting mini bagels, but any brand of store-bought bagels works too.

You will need:

Bagels! Mini is more fun :)

Tomato sauce


All your toppings - if you eat meat, mini pepperonis make bagel bites EVEN CUTER!

I recommend toasting or drying out your bagels a bit before putting ingredients on them.

Preheat your oven to 425º.

Set up your prep area, get all your ingredients together. Lay out the bagels on baking sheets lined with tinfoil.

Have at it - choose your own ingredients, layer them on the bagels and come up with cool and different creations.

Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty.

Enjoy! Proceed with caution - those bagel bites are WICKED hot at first.

Pizza and Pizza Dough

Landshark uses this pizza dough recipe for all our pizza making adventures. Similar to the pita bread dough, this dough is pretty forgiving - once you make the dough and let it rest, you can let your kids mess around with it without "messing it up". This can be almost 100% kid led. There's a cool video that goes along with the pizza dough recipe from the New York Times.

You will need:

153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) 153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons) 8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon) 2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon) 4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon) ...And all the ingredients for your toppings.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt.

  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (a little less than 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into flour mixture. Knead with your hands until well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.

  3. Knead rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)

  4. To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top and bake.

  5. We bake our pizza in a cast iron skillet or on an oiled cookie sheet. Get your over real hot, almost as high as it can go. A cast-iron deep dish pizza will take about 15 minutes to cook, a cookie sheet thin crust will take 10-15.


Pita Bread

I tell everyone I can about this recipe. It's pretty much fool-proof, and once it is ready to roll out and knead a bit, it can really take a beating which means it's perfect for kids to work with. Please note when it comes time to actually cooking the pita, you definitely need some adult support - we need the oven to get realllllllly hot, as hot as your oven can go pretty much. This recipe is from the New York Times Cooking Section.

You will need:

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar 35 grams whole-wheat flour (1/4 cup), preferably freshly milled 310 grams unbleached all-purposed flour (2 1/2 cups) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons olive oil

A Pizza Stone or large griddle.

  1. Make sponge: Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

  2. Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup). With a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.

  3. Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much reserved flour; the dough should be soft and a bit moist. (At this point, dough may refrigerated in a large zippered plastic bag for several hours or overnight. Bring dough back to room temperature, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe.)

  4. Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then cover with a towel. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  5. Heat oven to 475 degrees. On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy-duty baking sheet, large cast-iron pan or ceramic baking tile. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces of equal size. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  6. Remove 1 ball (keeping others covered) and press into a flat diskc with rolling pin. Roll to a 6-inch circle, then to an 8-inch diameter, about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary. (The dough will shrink a bit while baking.)

  7. Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn over with tongs or spatula and bake 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.


All these great recipes from the New York Times Cooking section

51 Recipes! Really! 51 awesome recipes to cook with your kids from the New York Times. I know that is a lot of recipes to sift through. Below are some of the ones that I really love and have made with my kids.

Dutch Baby Pancake - Whether you make it sweet or savory, a DBP is a staple recipe to have around. We especially like to make it with parmesan and put grilled corn and mushrooms on top.

Kale Chips - These are a great alternative to fries or potato chips and you can flavor them with whatever spices you have on hand.

Mississippi Roast - Might seem strange at first, but this dish is a big hit in our house and let's the kids have a big role in dinner.

Cowboy Caviar - Salsas, salads, and items like cowboy caviar are a great way to get kids practicing this knife skills.

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