At Growing Book by Book, we love to combine books with cooking with kids. In fact every month for the past two years, we have done a Family Dinner Book Club project. Today, Michelle Stern from What’s Cooking with Kids is guest posting for us. She is sharing the book, Dr. Dolittle, and a cooking project to do with the kids. Let’s get cooking!
Dr. Dolittle is a wonderful story about an English doctor who realizes, much to his surprise, that he can communicate with animals. Word about his talent spreads across the world, and soon he is called to Africa to help cure an epidemic that is plaguing the monkeys and apes. As you join the doctor and his animals on their adventures, it is clear how important it is to be kind and generous and to work together. It sets an excellent example for children, and will inspire them to do something compassionate in their own community.
Even though you might not have realized it, the kitchen is the ideal place to implement your inspiration. Why not take advantage of what’s right in front of you? Cook up some summer fun with your kids by reading this story together and then making some recipes – one for the family and one for some animals.
To get started, you can read this book aloud to your kids, or you can even listen to an audio version in the car. When my kids were little, they loved audio books so much, that they would often ask if we could drive somewhere, just so they could hear more of their story! We got most of our audiobooks at the public library – which gave us a fun excuse to get even more books to read together!
By the time your family gets involved in this story, nobody will look at animals the same again! You might be wondering what they are thinking, or how they are feeling. If your kids are anything like mine, they will want to spoil their own pets rotten and will start to feel empathy for the pets waiting for their forever homes at the local animal shelter.
Why not combine kids’ natural eagerness to please with their new culinary skills? In this simple service activity, you can share some homemade dog treats with your local animal shelter. What could be better than sharing some healthy treats with shelter dogs who could use a little extra love.
Cooking with Kids
In the meantime, don’t forget to feed the human family, too! This recipe is for Futari, a traditional African dish featuring yams and squash, cooked in coconut milk. This recipe is broken down into very simple steps. If you are concerned about your kids playing with knives, I highly suggest using these knives from Curious Chef. They get the job done, but won’t cut little fingers in the process.
Gub Gub’s Favorite Futari
1 small Onion
1 pound Hubbard squash or baking pumpkin
2 medium size Yams or sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
- Wash your hands.
- Peel the paper skin from the onion
- Cut the onion into 1-inch chunks
- Peel the squash or the pumpkin
- Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. (Put them into the compost.)
- Cut the squash or pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.
- Peel the yams or sweet potatoes.
- Cut them into 1-inch cubes
- Put a large skillet onto the stove and turn on the heat.
- Measure 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil and add them to the pan.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook it until it becomes clear.
- Stir occasionally.
- Add the rest of the veggies.
- Measure 1 cup coconut milk and pour it into the pan.
- Measure the following and add them to the pan
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Heat the mixture until it boils and stir it.
- Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, stirring occasionally and cook until the veggies are tender (5-10 minutes)
If you enjoyed this activity, you might also enjoy my Recipes from Books and Movies bundle, containing themed activities that relate to: Snow White, Charlotte’s Web, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and even more from Dr. Dolittle. If you’d like a FREE Cook the Alphabet lesson, as well as other free Cook and Learn activities with kids, please sign up for my weekly newsletter!
A Little About Michelle
Michelle Stern is a former high school biology and environmental science teacher who also founded What’s Cooking with Kids, a popular certified green cooking school for children in the SF Bay Area. She is the author of The Whole Family Cookbook, and was invited to the White House to be a part of the launch of Michelle Obama’s Chef’s Move to Schools Program. With 16 years of combined teaching experience, Michelle is uniquely qualified to share strategies for parents, teachers and homeschoolers for using healthy cooking as a teaching tool. Her home on the web is: What’s Cooking With Kids. You can also find her on Facebook and on Instagram.