Monday, May 19, 2008

Tea Sandwiches for Kids

Teaching kids kitchen skills is no easy task. It's important to give them tasks they can accomplish. You want them to feel successful, after all. One of the most simple foods you can teach your kids to make is tea sandwiches.

Oh, yes. I can hear it now. “Are you crazy, John? Little froo froo sandwiches? What in heaven's name are you making tea sandwiches for, anyway? You're a Mormon! You're not supposed to drink tea!”

Why not tea sandwiches? The prohibition Mormon's observe against tea and coffee is real. Mormon's aren't supposed to drink tea but, what's that got to do with little sandwiches?

Making tea sandwiches teaches a kid about the proper use of a knife, a vital kitchen skill. It's also easy for them to experiment with various shapes and flavors. Best of all, your little ones can now feed themselves and entertain their friends.

Remember that tea party your daughter's always asking to have with you? Who said it has to have pretend food? My girl's love having a “high tea” with me. We'll make little sandwiches, herbal tea, and serve it all on pretty china (I have a nice Chinese tea set). It makes it fun for me, too.

Tea sandwiches can come in all shapes and sizes. Just cutting the crust off the bread may be enough for some kids. Cutting the bread on the diagonal can make two, or four, little triangles. The sandwiches can be cut into three rectangular strips. You can even punch out circles or hearts with a cookie cutter (I like toasting them first). What kid wouldn't enjoy doing that?

Besides good old peanut butter and jelly, here are a few more “little sandwich” fillings you may want to introduce to your kids. Any of these can be topped with bread, or served open faced.

Cucumber and Cream Cheese Tea sandwiches

Spread cream cheese on top a round circle of bread and add a slice of cucumber. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and dill weed for extra flavor.

Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Make a regular ham and cheese sandwich, with a little salad dressing and mustard (if your kids like mustard). Make sure the ham and cheese are cut into very thin slices for this one. Cut the sandwich into little triangles by making two diagonal cuts across the sandwich. Buy different kinds of lunch meat and cheeses to let your kids experiment, and expand their palette.

Tomato, Spinach, and Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Cut a Roma tomato into 1/ 4 inch think round slices. Spread salad dressing little squares or rounds of toasted bread, and top with one tomato slice. Sprinkle with a little salt, and basil. Fold a small spinach leaf in half (or cut it to size) an put on top of the tomato, along with a very thin slice of Parmesan or siago cheese (use a vegetable peeler to cut a thin slice).

If you want to make egg or tuna salad for these things, you can try that, too. I know people that actually like tuna salad but, I'm not one of them. My cousins grew up with the stuff. I can't stand it. Egg salad on the other hand, is a favorite sandwich topping for me, my wife, and my kids.

Let the kids experiment. If they can think of something that might work as a sandwich, let them try it. At the worst, you're out a few ingredients. Don't worry. If it's bad, they'll never make it again. At best, who knows? Maybe they'll come up with something that'l have you asking them, “Can you make me another one of your specialty sandwiches?” Then just sit back and watch your little one's face light up as they enter the kitchen.


tkangaroo said...

Stuff like this helped us come up with some of our best experiments--Food, as a semi-gourmet, I don't admit to loving now. . .

Bologna Boats: Slice of Bread, piece of bologna, slice of american cheese--45 sec. to a minute in the microwave. Now that I live in the South, I realize it is a lot like their "fried bologna sandwiches."

It is also how I learned that cheese and peanut butter could go together. . . But don't tell anyone--I am supposed to be a food snob.

John Newman said...

I love bologna boats! I always thought of them as "quick grilled cheese" with bologna. I guess that's why I'm a "foodie" and not a "gourmet" or (shudder) and "epicurian."

Microwaves are a great way for kids to get started cooking, as long as you watch out for how long they cook things for! ; )