What is Fountain Avenue Kids, and what led you to start this new venture?
Fountain Avenue Kids is a video cooking series featuring kids. It's an evolution of my Fountain Avenue Kitchen cooking blog, where I have shared lots of family favorite recipes over the years, and it's a way to inspire kids to cook. We’re all so busy these days, and cooking can fall by the wayside, but it’s a life skill with so many benefits. Cooking provides insight into nutrition, an opportunity to sit down at the dinner table and connect with the important people in our lives — and perhaps provides something satisfying to grab before dashing off to school or work in the morning. Time in the kitchen can also be a stress-relieving hobby and a productive balance to screen time — and a fun activity with friends!
How often do you create new videos, and how can people find them?
We did about 10 over the summer — when kids were out of school and had more flexibility. I’m still scheduling time to cook with kids and shoot the videos, albeit a little more creatively, making the most of in-service days and school holidays. We use a professional videographer, so it has also been a fun experience for kids to literally look through the lens of the camera to see what happens in the world of video production.
The videos can be found on my blog, and I share shorter clips on social media and YouTube. If anyone makes the recipes, shares a photo and tags @fountainavenuekitchen, I will reshare them. Encouraging kids to share and seek out more constructive content on social media is an added benefit.
What has been an exciting discovery so far? Any surprises now that you’ve launched?
In theory, I’m supposed to teach the kids a little something, but I am always learning from them. Some have endured challenges far bigger than their years. The diverse group of pre-teens and teens has also helped me look at food and cooking in new ways, challenging me to create recipes I may have steered away from and sometimes sharing their family favorite recipes, many of which have become fast favorites with my family, too.
Several local nonprofits and schools have also expressed interest in bringing this initiative to their kids. I just taught a cooking class last week to a group of high school boys at Bench Mark Program, and we had so much fun. Learning to cook a quick meal that they could pull off easily at home really made them feel empowered. Part of the challenge is finding recipes that the kids are excited about and can have immediate success with. So, we talk a lot, and I ask questions. I’m realizing that many kids simply need an introduction to cooking to realize it’s pretty fun — and there’s a delicious reward at the end. Before we’re halfway through a session, many of them ask if we can cook together again. And the pride they clearly have in themselves when they taste what they made or take food home to their family is palpable. To me, that is the biggest reward.
How would you like to see this venture grow?
Food has the power to connect us all, and I’d love for this project to continue to grow and involve more kids from all walks of life. I’d also like to find a corporate sponsor who would help grow the project. In the meantime, I’d be thrilled for people to watch the videos, leave a comment, cook the recipes with a child or grandchild, take a few pictures and share them. Make it fun. If an egg drops on the floor, laugh and clean it up together. There’s so much bad news in the world today, and cooking can offer a brief (but recurring!) respite.
Do you have a family favorite recipe and know a kid who’d like to cook it with Ann? Send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested kids may earn a guest appearance on Ann's blog, and/or the recipe may appear in a future issue of Stroll School Lane Hills!
Some of the recipes Ann has cooked with the kids include Pizza Chicken, Sushi Stacks, Parchment Packet Chicken, Scrambled Egg Muffins and Cracker Crust Pork Chops … with more on the way! They can be found on her blog at fountainavenuekitchen.com/recipe-index.