Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaching Home Economics to Daughters - More than just Homemade Ravioli

Girls Learning How to Bake in Home Economics Class

This post is part of an ongoing series to give you an inside look at what I am doing to teach my 15 year old daughter (Amy) the art of homemaking skills. I will also share stories and memories of how I taught my older daughters (currently ages 21 and 22). You can expect to see these posts every Tuesday, here at The Legacy of Home.

Category - Cooking.

I bought several packages of ground chicken burger marked down for $1.99 per pound. This is cheaper than a pound of regular burger so I bought nine of them. I needed to come up with a creative way to use this  throughout the coming week. I didn't want the children to be bored, or sick of the same old thing. So I decided to pull out  my cookbooks for some fun ideas.

A picture of homemade ravioli reminded me of the tortellini I used to make with my Italian Grandmother (who lived with us when I was growing up.) She would sit at the table, in her wheelchair, and a group of us would work together on the pasta dough and filling. We would chat and laugh and have a wonderful time.

When my own five children were very young, we often made homemade tortellini at the kitchen table. There would be a 4 year old, a 7 year old and a 9 year old all helping me through the many steps of preparing this time-consuming recipe! Little Amy was 2 and we would not let her near the ingredients. So she just laughed, chattered and watched. She was sure to point out any mistakes we made, or correct us. She was even willing to pick up anything the children may have dropped. Perhaps once or twice, we would let her use the "fork" to "seal" a few of the tortellinis closed!  The youngest, a baby, would be sleeping so he missed out on all the fun! As the years went on, the youngest two were able to get involved with making homemade tortellini. To this day, they all remember it fondly.

Now, Amy (at 15) and I were getting ready to make ravioli. (Ravioli is larger than tortellini, but they are almost exactly the same kind of pasta.) It had been at least a few years since we made this. So we were a bit out of practice. We both put ponytails in our hair and settled in to do our kitchen work.

I sat at the dining room table with my cookbook. Amy was at the kitchen counter. I shouted out (smiles) all the ingredients she needed to find. Then I gave her step- by- step instructions. We started with the pasta dough.

1.  One egg yolk.

First, I had to run over and explain how to get an egg yolk, while juggling it back and forth between egg shells, so all the whites would land in a little bowl. I really do not enjoy doing this and was delighted to have Amy do it for me. (smiles)

2. Two eggs.

She combined these with the egg yolk.

3. 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil.

4. 1 teaspoon of salt.

5. 1 Cup of Flour.

6. 1/3 cup of Water.

She used an electric mixer for about 1 or 2 minutes and then said, "Is this going to be enough to feed all of us?" Now, remember, I am in the next room and can't see what she's doing very well. My job was to just 'shout out' the ingredients and give instructions. (smiles). So she tilted the bowl in my direction. Then she said, "This may have been fine when we were all toddlers, but we eat a lot more now! Should we double the recipe?" We decided to triple it. I gave her the instructions, step-by-step, two more times.

Then she added 3 cups of flour and stirred this by hand until she finally gave up and said, "Can I just knead this?" What a smart girl! I told her to put away the ingredients (the bottle of oil, the salt and the eggs) so the counter would be clear. Then she sprinkled the surface with flour and started to knead.

Soon she was complaining about her arms being tired. I smiled. I really smiled. Then I said, "It's a good workout!"

She kneaded for about 8 minutes or so and then I checked the dough. It had to be smooth, and in a round shape.

Amy wanted to know when the food was going to be ready. She was starving. Here's a suggestion. If you are making homemade ravioli, eat something before you start this recipe. Ravioli takes hours to prepare!!

The dough had to sit for 30 minutes. I covered it with a cloth and set the timer.  Amy was asked to go clean her room while she waited.

-Let me just share a bit of shocking trivia - Amy decided not to wear an apron!! I even suggested she simply wrap a towel around her waist so she wouldn't be covered with flour. This is what her oldest sister, Rachel (now 22) used to do when she cooked for us. But here's the surprising part - even though Amy didn't wear an apron, her clothes stayed clean!! I was amazed! 

Now back to work. I had to prepare the chicken burger for the filling. (We used one pound of chicken burger.) [Please be advised - I used whatever I had available in my kitchen and just made up the ingredients as I went along. It is a "make-do" recipe. You can either use an actual recipe in a cookbook, or do the best you can.] Sorrow of sorrows, the meat was still frozen! Amy, being the heroine she is, showed me how to use the microwave. (After 22 years of marriage we only got our first microwave this year and, while I never use it, the children love it.) She actually defrosted the burger in the microwave!! We got to use our problem solving skills to come up with a solution. Next, I mixed up 2 eggs in a bowl and added whatever was left of bread crumbs from a container that was almost empty. It looked like around 1/3  of a cup. Amy added the meat to this and I stirred it all up. I started to fry the burger. I wondered if we had any cheese? Amy found 1/4 of a block of Cracker Barrel Cheddar cheese in the fridge. She then offered to grate it up for me!! What a fabulous idea! When the burger was all cooked and cooled, I added the grated cheese, stirred it together and let it sit.

(Some families might want to add onions to this, but dear Mr. White does not care for onions, so we left that out.)

Ready for some pictures?

Here is Amy working at the table. Instructions and more details to follow:

This is a close-up shot. Amy has already placed the filling on the dough and is starting to close it up.

Next, she will seal it with a "fork print," and place it on a "floured" towel to dry.

We had a large amount of dough to work with. I cut out a small strip and then showed her how to use the rolling pin to make it almost "paper thin." The dough was cut into small, square-shapes and then placed on a small plate. The entire process was run efficiently, as you will see.

1. Once the plate was covered with dough, it was transferred to the table for me to work on (like Amy was doing in the above picture). I had a bowl next to me with the meat filling. I would spoon out a small amount, place it on the dough and then close it up, fork it, and then place this on the towel. Amy was busy rolling out more dough and filling up another plate. The empty plate was then "switched" with a full plate.

2. Amy quickly tired of rolling out dough. She whined. (smiles) So I did the rest of the rolling and she took over the work at the table. We worked very quickly and had a great time!

3. Once all the raviolis were ready, we let them dry out on the towel before cooking.

4. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add some of the ravioli (It was not possible for us to cook ALL OF IT at once - smiles). Boil for about 5 minutes. Drain. Add olive oil and sauce. Serve and enjoy!

5. We made lots of ravioli so there was plenty more for the next day's lunches.

6. Here's a fun idea - you can use homemade pasta dough to make Perogies! You know, those delicious potato and onion filled raviolis?

Let me just close with some thoughts:

 We had company over. This was a friend, who was visiting Matthew (17). They were outside, or in our game room. I gave them some homemade cookies, when I took a break from helping Amy. We could hear them having a great time. Amy turned to look at me and said, "You know? I need to find a boyfriend who will want to hang out with the family. Not just someone "I" like. He can be in the other room, while I am in here cooking." I thought that was so sweet! Don't you see, it's more than just learning to cook? She is developing a heart and love for home. One more thing I want to share- While we were working so hard with this recipe, she said, "No one in this family has any idea how much effort went into making this food. They'll know it tastes good, but they won't know how much work it took to make it." She smiled with pride.

How about you? Will you spend hours making ravioli this week and see what happens? Mom and daughter can learn together, make mistakes, laugh and enjoy the process.

Happy Homemaking!

Mrs. White


Michelle said...

Thank you for such a wonderful, homey story!

Your daughter has developed a diligent spirit-which is what it takes to make something like home-made raviolis!

Now, if I weren't gluten,dairy free, this fellow New Englander might be traveling a few hours to come knock at your door during dinner time!

Have a blessed week!

Christina's Creative Side said...

I enjoyed this story very much!! You just don't hear of 15-year-old girls doing much of anything in the kitchen anymore. ;) I happened to love Home Ec! Thanks, too, for visiting my blog. Excited to read through some more of your posts.

Celee said...

I missed out on home ec and am having to learn everything the hard way now. My oldest daughter is 9 and loves spending time in the kitchen. On Sunday evenings we always watch a couple of Food Network shows together. I've never tried homemade pasta, but did make enchilada casserole for 50 a couple of weeks ago to take to church. She and her little sister were such a huge help!

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said...

I've made a gluten free version of these, but I still need to work on the whole "paper-thin" thing. I was not taught any of these skills, so while I love to cook and bake, I'm still learning certain techniques.

I was just told a couple of days ago by my family that I need to make some in the near future. ;)

I love that you're teaching your children all of these skills. I'm working on teaching Munchkin as well. Too few kids know how to really cook, bake, and run a home.

HillaryM said...

Mrs. White, you've done it again. Now I want to make some ravioli. I'll try not to chase my daughters out of the kitchen like my mother did to me years ago. :) You make it sound so easy--time consuming, but easy.
Between your posts and the new site I've recently stumbled upon, Raising Homemakers, I am feeling encouraged in teaching my daughters though I don't know much myself. It is fun learning and being together.

Kris said...

I loved this post! I loved how you incorporated the story of your past, their past, and the incredible recipe for homemade ravioli! I've never had homemade ravioli before and this sounds so delicious!! Blessings my sister!

the Mcclanahan 7 said...

I love to cook & bake (along with some of my daughters). Ravioli has been on my list to try for some time & we just haven't taken the time to do it. You have encouraged me to do it very soon. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I love that you shared this .I use to buy crafts to do with my kids and was just feeling sorry for myself that we just don't have the budget for new craft projects.Then I read this and relized this is the same thing only it fills a need at the same time.Thank you