Cabbage. Tofu. Bean sprouts. Not typical foods most American kids consume, but on a recent Sunday, 17 fifth-grade girls were happily mixing together those ingredients and several others in the process of learning how to make egg rolls. The girls were participating in a cooking class run by Andrea Nelson, an Arlington mom who started Creative Kids Kitchen in her spacious home a few years ago. The company offers classes and camps that range from one day to six weeks on a variety of themes for ages 2 to 12. For example, a special Valentine’s Day class had a spa theme where small chefs would whip up strawberry muffins, candy lip gloss and fruity bubble bath.
For our group of Girl Scouts, I asked Ms. Nelson to drum up two international dishes – one main dish and one dessert – to go with our global theme for the year. In addition to three egg rolls apiece, the girls concocted two Carnival buns, a specialty of Denmark, where they mixed together cinnamon, chocolate chips, raisins, butter and sugar and folded the mixture into a pocket of dough that Ms. Nelson had pre-made.
With her toddler on her hip and her preschooler watching the girls mix and pour, Ms. Nelson effortlessly managed our large group by giving each girl her own workstation complete with glass bowl and wooden spoon. Before the cooking began, she gave a short speech on nutrition and the different food groups. Then the girls washed their hands and stood around a long rectangle table chatting amiably while Ms. Nelson circulated the ingredients and their measuring tools around the table at a steady clip. The cute egg roll wrappers were more popular than the soy sauce, but the girls were game to see how the food would turn out. While the egg rolls baked, Ms. Nelson had the girls wash their bowls and spoons to prep for making the next course (and thereby giving a realistic picture of cooking – unfortunately cleaning up is part of it).
Then: on to the best part, eating! The girls snacked on their egg rolls while the dessert baked then iced their buns and sampled them at the end of the class after they had cooled for a few minutes. While the food was not a hit with everyone, we have some non-adventuresome eaters in our group, including my daughter, the girls all said they would love to take another class. The extra eggrolls and buns went into their Tupperware containers, which Ms. Nelson told us to bring to take home for other family members to enjoy. And if the girls wanted to replicate the dishes at home, Ms. Nelson handed out a recipe booklet as a parting gift.
- One-time classes, starting $40 (prices might vary).
- Six week classes: $125, classes take place during the week, on the weekends, and school holidays.
- Birthday parties for 5 to 15 children. Packages start at $125, embroidered aprons can be ordered as party favors.
- Summer camps: $245/week, camp is from 1 to 4 p.m.