The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Kids Makes Ethiopian Spicy Vegetables (Yataklete Kilkil)

April 23rd, 2010 · No Comments · Posted in Ethnic, kids, Recipes

Calling all vegetables

Calling all vegetables

Teaching kids about food and cooking I’ve come to learn that an appreciation for vegetables is largely a function of age. The younger ones–Kindergartners–walked away from this dish of freshly cooked vegetables tossed with aromatic butter. All they wanted was the bread. The older children–nine- and 10-year-olds–weren’t so crazy for the spongy Ethiopian injera bread, but begged for seconds on the vegetables.

Getting kids to like healthier food is a process, not an event. Making food like this–giving kids an opportunity to handle and prepare different vegetables in a group setting–prepares children to appreciate a variety of foods, including vegetables. Repeated exposure smooths the way for actually liking  things that kids will automatically reject if you just slap it on their plate. Even if the kids don’t eat the vegetables on the first go-’round, they have great fun peeling and chopping. And having fun around food–rather than battling over it–is a major victory in my book.

(One of my students told me this week that her family is now making beet salad all the time because of the beet salad we made in one of our classes. How about that?)

To make this dish, you will need some of the spiced butter, or niter kebbeh, that is traditional in Ethiopian cooking. I’m in luck. There are Ethiopian groceries within walking distance of my home here in the District of Columbia. If you aren’t so lucky, you can make the butter as follows:

To make 2 cups, melt 1 pound butter slowly in a saucepan, then bring it to a boil. When the top is covered with foam, add 4 tablespoons chopped onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, 2 teasoons grated fresh ginger, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 2-4 crushed cardamom seeds, 1-inch piece cinnamon, 2-3 whole cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Simmer uncovered on lowest heat until the surface is transparent and the butter solids have settled on the bottom (up to 60 minutes). Pour off the clear liquid and strain through a double layer of damp cheesecloth, discarding the spices and solids. Refrigerate.

For the vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, 4 large carrots, 1/2 cauliflower, 1 head broccoli. Place all of the vegetables except the broccoli in a steamer to cook. Meanwhile, saute 1 medium onion, cut into small dice, with 1/4 cup spiced butter in a heavy skillet until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the vegetables in the steamer are almost cooked through, add the broccoli and continue cooking until the broccoli is tender. Transfer vegetables to the skillet with the onions, toss well and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for another five minutes. Add more butter if vegetables seem dry. Serve warm with injera.

For more great stories about how we are taking back our food system, check Fight Back Friday.

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