Alfresco Cooking - Feeding their Curiosity

I don't know about you but my fondest memories of Nursery were eating. Especially the fruit and a carton of ice cold milk at snack time. Nothing changes, I still look forward to snack and lunchtime at Free Rangers! (A Forest School Leader marches on his stomach as Napoleon once said). So this week, we tried something new on Forest School and extended last week's den planning around the book Mama Panya's Pancakes. The end of the week saw the children mixing the batter inside, and a second group making the fire ready to cook on. It went really well and so I felt that it should repeated and extended to allow the children to do all of it outside as well the cooking so they are involved in all parts of the process. There was some excellent learning going on throughout. The main objective for this week was to draw upon the knowledge of the previous fire sessions to help reinforce their learning and bring it into a new context. This involved the children actually building the fire and one lucky child lighting it. Throughout I would purposefully do things in the wrong order, and most of the children switched on to the idea. One bright spark (pun intended), when I tried to light the fire by rubbing two logs together shouted, "You're not doing it right, rub the logs harder otherwise they wont heat up!" He's not far wrong, although I did want him to say, "try using a fire steel!" Many of the children could mimic the action of the fire steel, and name the different parts of the fire although there was still a little confusion on why the tinder had to go underneath the kindling, as they argued that it would be easier to light if it sat on top. Not a bad argument. Once the fire was lit, we made the batter, introducing new pieces of equipment, like the ladle, whisk and spatula. Once mixed the children poured the batter into the frying pan and watched as it sizzled in the butter, and we discussed how the heat made the batter change from a liquid to a solid(ish) state before flipping them. Then the best part. Eating them! I haven't seen food disappear so quickly before! Whilst I cooked a quick second batch, the children settled down around the fire to listen to another rendition the Story of Mama Panya and her pancakes, whilst soaking up a little more of the glorious sunshine.


Detailed in the back of the Mama Panya's book is the recipe for pancakes which we used as the basis for the our own. However, Mama Panya added some pretty hardcore spices which I felt wouldn't go down too well. Our ingredients list transformed from white, flat, plain pancakes to some fluffy thick healthy options with a little help from Val and her magic ingredients! Here's the final ingredient list of what went into ours, so you can try at home! It's egg and nut free (check your flour), and you could quite easily substitute the dairy based milk for coconut/almond milk or even water if necessary:

  • 1 cup of self raising wholemeal flour (we used Doves as it's organic, nut free and unbleached),
  • 1 cup of organic goats/cows milk,
  • a large pinch of salt,
  • 2 tablespoons of Rapadura (A healthier sugar option) or you could use honey,
  • A few knobs of organic butter to cook it in.

(You'll also need a fire, a trivet and a good quality seasoned frying pan if you fancy trying this outside just like Mama Panya does!)

I was really pleased with how the week went. The children have really enjoyed the processes of the cooking, and have excelled themselves in their understanding and recall of the fire sessions. Next time I think we'll try adding a little cinnamon to provide a little gentle spice. I'm hoping your children have talked about it at home, and if they haven't then do ask them! We'd also love to hear if you've tried making some, or any little personal touches you make to the recipe!

Happy cooking! (and eating...bring some in for Red Fox!)



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