The idea for Little Pickles Kitchen came to owner Claire Wright at her kitchen table. “My daughter and her friends were covered in flour and it was one of those lightbulb moments – why don’t I do this for a living?”
I guess some parents might have a different reaction to this scene, but Claire loves cooking with her family and out of this floury start Claire has set up Little Pickles Kitchen. She now teaches children how to cook in children’s centres, schools and at workshops and parties. You might have seen Little Pickles at the Harpenden Food Festival last autumn where the stall was very popular with the young children making fruit caterpillar snacks. Our 8-year old was completely absorbed in threading the fruit together and quite a crowd had gathered to have a go.
There are plenty of cooking workshops for children in London and in foodie areas such as Suffolk but we don’t have a great deal of choice in our local area so I was really pleased to discover Little Pickles. Quite a few local companies offer cake or biscuit decorating and I’m glad that Little Pickles also includes how to make savoury foods that could form a meal, rather than a snack.
One recent workshop saw 20 five-year olds (and younger) make quiches with goats cheese, peas, mint and spinach. Pumpkin pizzas have also been popular. Parents have noticed that the children try new ingredients more readily when in a party or sociable atmosphere and Claire thinks the key to kids enjoying a range of foods is to get them cooking as early as possible so she welcomes children of all ages along. For the young children, parents stay too, and there are games while the food is being cooked before everyone gets to sit and eat it. One parent told Claire that she was amazed her son had eaten spinach and that he wouldn’t have done that at home.
At the moment Claire runs holiday workshops in Harpenden and Redbourn and does lots of weekend and after-school parties. During the week she helps at schools and children’s centres in Luton but plans to introduce more mid-week classes as time allows. The next workshop is in Harpenden during half term (Thursday 19th February, Harpenden Park Hall @ 10.30am.) It is suitable for toddler age and upwards.
What I really like about the Little Pickles approach is that Claire chooses to use plenty of vegetables and fruit in her recipes without making a big deal about it. Cakes include carrots and kids pile lots of vegetables into whatever they are making. She doesn’t use refined sugar or anything artificial so you won’t find copious amounts of sweets being stuck on things.
Claire has found research that says children who eat home-cooked food from an early age are less likely to develop a preference for processed or high salt/sugary foods, and are less likely to experience obesity later in life. There is loads of learning potential in cooking too, from fine motor skills to maths. Cooking is also messy and fun too, of course, and kids like doing it, especially with friends around them.
Claire plans to do more festivals and workshops this year so look out for them and look at the website http://www.littlepickleskitchen.co.uk. You might like to know that Little Pickles cater for allergies and intolerances too, and include ‘free from’ recipes and options. For more info contact Claire on 07875 435330. Prices start at £8 a workshop.