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Six meals by 16 years

Do your kids know the basics?

Medium Rare Beef Roast Served with Various Vegetables

Spring can’t come soon enough this year, and neither can spring break.

It’s a great time for families to take a short vacation, or spend some downtime together at home.

Will you cook or bake with your kids this week, or let the older ones make a few meals?

Many wouldn’t dream of letting the kids cook supper. Why? Because they seldom cook at home themselves.

Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales recently posted these thoughts about kids, cooking skills and parents without any.

“There was a time when students in the Ontario school system learned food basics in home economics class. As a result, parents were able to supplement this knowledge at home through family meal preparation,” he writes at Home Economics News.

But changes at school — and at home — have left young adults learning “on their own,” says Wade.

Frequently, that means not much more than knowing which button on the microwave to push.

I’ve heard home economists say some parents are so unsure themselves in the kitchen, they warn their kids never to go near it. They’re hardly equipped then to teach someone else what to do. Kids growing up in these kinds of households are doubly disadvantaged because they aren’t necessarily learning at school either. It’s a problem right across the country as schools shift their curriculum to topics deemed more important than learning food skills in home economics classes.

That’s why the OFA, after the province of Ontario tabled its new Local Food Act last year, suggested programs must do more than improve access to local food. They must also help young people learn something about how to prepare it at home.

The federation has come up with what it’s calling the ‘6 x 16’ approach, with parents, relatives, teachers and other organizations urged to start helping more youth, by the time they’ve reached 16, know how to plan and prepare six wholesome meals from scratch.

That’s one of the objectives of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s national food strategy too.

Ideas for advancing 6 x 16 include talking to kids about food choices, families posting Canada’s Food Guide on the fridge, and setting better examples for their younger members by choosing healthier, less-processed ingredients and setting an evening a week aside when everyone cooks together.

Think of it this way. Your 16-year-old is usually ready to get behind the wheel and drive the family car. But have they learned how to cook the family dinner?

More from the Manitoba Co-operator website: Recipe Swap: Slow down and fill up

Take the Roast Beef Challenge

Here’s an idea from Canada Beef to get your 16-year-old cooking what’s sure one of the simplest and yummiest meals you can possibly make for a home meal.

1. SEASON a beef oven roast all over with coarse salt and pepper (try top sirloin, sirloin tip or inside round). Place on rack in shallow roasting pan (no water necessary). Insert ovensafe meat thermometer into centre of roast (try a programmable thermometer, so you can set the doneness temperature you want).

2. PLACE roast uncovered in preheated 450 F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 F; cook to 145 F for medium rare (about 1-1/2 hours for a 3-lb./1.5-kg roast).

3. COVER with foil and let stand for at least 15 minutes – make Easy Pan-Gravy. Carve into thin slices and serve with gravy, steamed veggies and baked potatoes or rice.

4. EASY PAN-GRAVY: Place roasting pan over medium-high heat and pour in 1-1⁄2 cups low-sodium beef broth. Bring to boil, stirring up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Dissolve 1 tbsp. cornstarch in 1 tbsp. cold water and gradually stir into pan. Cook, stirring until thickened slightly, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker Marvellous Mushroom Pot Roast

If a roast beef is simple, doing it up in the slow cooker is even easier. Just brown meat and flavourings, add a liquid for cooking, cover and slow simmer — that’s all there is to it!

  • 4-lb. beef pot roast (e.g. cross rib, blade or brisket)
  • Coarsely ground sea salt or kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cooking onion, cut into wedges lengthwise
  • 1/4 c. red wine or beef broth
  • 1 can (284 ml) condensed mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 c. dried mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 c. quartered button mushrooms
  • 1 c. diced green beans (optional)

1. Pat roast dry; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add roast; brown well on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove roast from pan.

2. Add garlic and onion to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook until lightly browned, about three to four minutes (NOTE: add splash of water to prevent scorching if needed). Stir in wine, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in soup. Soak dried mushrooms (if using) in 1/2 cup hot water. Strain, reserving liquid; add soaked mushrooms and reserved liquid to pan.

3. Transfer roast and liquid from pan to slow cooker insert. Add fresh mushrooms; cover and cook on LOW for six to eight hours until roast is fork tender.

4. Remove roast to cutting board; cover with foil and towel to keep warm. Add green beans (if using) to sauce; cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Season sauce to taste. Serve roast with the vegetables and sauce.

* Stovetop method: After Step 2, add roast to pan; cover with tight-fitting lid. Simmer on stovetop over low heat or in 325 F oven for two hours, maintaining a constant simmer. Turn roast over; scatter with button mushrooms. Cook an additional 30 to 45 minutes until vegetables and meat are fork tender. Remove roast and vegetables to platter; tent with foil. Season sauce to taste; finish by stirring in parsley.

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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