Tag Archives: Great British Baking Show

More Screen-Free Activities for Kids

By Tracey Dowdy 

On a scale of “Guess How Much I Love You” to “Lord of the Flies,” how are things at your house? Learning to parent through a pandemic is something none of us expected to have to do, yet here we are. 

For many parents, understandably, screen time limits have become more like suggestions rather than rules as we try to navigate uncharted and often choppy waters. If you’re flat out of ideas and looking for activities to fill an afternoon or more, here are some fun options. 

Plant a garden. I know it may seem a little late to get started, but there are plants you can start now, indoors, to transplant in the spring. If you’re not sure where or what to plant, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has a guide that drills down to specific towns in the U.S. and Canada from Fairfax, Virginia, to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. Just type in your zip or postal code to bring up your planting calendar. If an outdoor garden isn’t an option, you kids can plant an indoor herb garden. You can even teach your children how to grow pineapples, avocados, onions, garlic, or a host of other vegetables from the parts you’d typically compost or throw in the trash. 

Organize. With the holidays fast approaching, there’s a good chance that your children will be expecting – and accepting – new clothes, toys, books, and games from Santa and Hannukah Harry. This is a great time to go through closets, toy boxes, and playrooms to purge things the things your children have grown out of. This is a job you could easily do on your own, but it’s an opportunity to teach your children generosity. It has been a challenging year for many families, with many parents out of work due to the pandemic. Donating unused clothes and toys teaches your children to think beyond their own needs to the needs of those around them. It teaches compassion for others and gratitude for what they have. Be aware that some charities are not accepting donations right now, but here’s where you can donate clothes and toys right now. 

Write a book, scrapbook, or create a memory box together. While it’s true that many of us will be happy to see 2020 and this pandemic in the rearview mirror, we’ve lived through a significant event in world history. Why not document your family’s experience for grandchildren and generations beyond? Have your kids write a letter to their future selves about what they loved and hated, their favorite pastime in quarantine, what they thought of virtual schooling, what they missed, and what they learned. Write your own letter, documenting what it was like to parent during this season. You can gather photos and publish your own photobook of “Our Life in Quarantine 2020,” or document the whole year in a “2020 – What a Year for the Mathesons!” Include snapshots of virtual school, what you did in your downtime, relevant news stories, rallies, or protests you participated in, socially distanced playdates and proms, information about the election – whatever resonates with your family. Or, create a scrapbook or memory box of letters and items that remind you of this season. 

Write a book together. Has your family started cooking together? Compile your favorite meals you’ve prepared over the past several months, write out the recipes, include photos of the finished dish, or even better, your children actually preparing and eating it. Voila, you’ve just published a cookbook! Or, have your child write a story, letting their imagination run wild. Along with writing the text, have them draw the illustrations, then print a hardcopy or publish it online to share with family and friends. 

Get in the kitchen. For a few weeks at the beginning of quarantine, my husband and I did a live cooking demonstration for family and friends then gave the meal to a local viewer. It was silly, fun, and a great way to feel less alone while we were all housebound. If a live demo isn’t a good fit, do your version of Iron Chef, the Great British Baking Show, or Top Chef, and see who makes the best brownies, cupcakes, or grilled cheese. Since eating out options are limited, learn how to make restaurant favorites at home, or teach your children how to make family favorites or recipes handed down through the years. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Online Cooking Classes for Families

By Tracey Dowdy 

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of the multitudes of Americans who baked – and ate – their way through quarantine. I watched hours of the Great British Baking Show, Nadia’s Time to Eat, The Big Family Cooking Showdown, Ugly Delicious…obviously, there’s a theme here. I perfected my biscuits, cinnamon rolls, quick white bread, an olive and rosemary crown, finally learned how to make the most of my Instant Pot, and pulled herbs from my garden to make vinegars and herbed butters. Some took more than one attempt – I’m looking at you olive and rosemary crown – while others require no skill at all – hello vinegars. 

Cooking together is a great way to connect as a family. Even young children can help with meal prep. Learning cooking and baking basics, nutrition, and how what we eat impacts our health and can broaden your child’s palate and provide life skills they’ll utilize the rest of their lives.

So whether you’re ready to set up a family throw down on Meatless Monday, or Taco Tuesday, or even if you’re looking for shortcuts to making meal time less of a battlefield, these online cooking classes are a great place to start. Plus, with many students returning to virtual schooling this fall, they’ll be able to make your lunch this time around. 

TV’s perkiest chef is hosting a 16-part live virtual cooking camp called Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Cooking Camp. The camp is up and running and will continue throughFriday, August 14, with daily cooking classes at 2 p.m. ET that run roughly 45 minutes each. Classes are aimed at kids 8-15 Ray’s engaging style will draw budding chefs of all ages. 

You’ve probably seen videos of Delish’s delicious recipes in your social media timeline. Every weekday at 1pm EST they host a livestream on Instagram. Your whole family will enjoy getting creative and making easy and fun recipes with Joanna Saltz. 

America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School is ideal for newbies or those of us that want to get really good at cooking basics by explaining the science behind cooking in practical ways. Instead of memorizing recipes, you’ll learn techniques like folding rather than mixing batters, the difference between boiling and simmering, and how to choose the right pot or pan for the job.  

They’re offering a free, 21-day trial, after which monthly memberships cost around $20 per month or approximately $180 for the year.

If baking is more your thing, Cakeflix may be more your speed, especially if baking and decorating gorgeous, Instagram worthy cakes are your dream. With over 1000 online cake decorating and business tutorials from some of the world’s greatest cake artists, the possibilities are endless. Every week a new feature-length tutorial is uploaded and each is broken down into easy to follow steps with lessons ranging from beginner to advanced. They’re currently offering a 7-day free trial, after than plans range from $155-299.00 annually. 

Rouxbe is the world’s leading online culinary school. Using high definition videos, world-class instructors, peer support, and interactive assignments, their classes are more advanced and best suited for individuals who already have a working culinary knowledge or are currently working in the food industry. Membership is fee-based at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, but and you can get a free 30-day trial to see if it’s a good fit for you.

If you’re really serious about your culinary skills, Masterclass provides access to the elite of the culinary world. Think Gordon Ramsey, James Suckling, Wolfgang Puck, and Massimo Bottura plus a host of others. Learn knife skills, how to prepare the five French mother sauces every cook should know, wine appreciation – from the best in the world. You can access all of the classes for $180 a year, or if you’re not ready to commit, enter your email and explore a couple of classes for free. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.