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  • Writer's pictureChef Ashley, Back 2 Basics Cooking

Stirring up Learning: The Weekly "New Ingredient Challenge"

Hey there, fellow culinary adventurers! Are you ready to embark on a journey that combines learning, exploration, and a whole lot of delicious fun? Introducing the "New Ingredient Challenge" - a brilliant way to broaden your culinary horizons and ignite your taste buds. You can even use it to spice up your homeschooling. This challenge is one of my personal favorites for expanding my own culinary knowledge!


Step One - The Mystery Ingredient:


Let's kick off this exciting week by choosing an ingredient you've never used before. It could be something like the fragrant green plant called fennel or the sweet and nutty root vegetable known as parsnips. Dive into its history, discover its nutritional benefits, and explore how it's used in different cultures' cuisines. This not only opens your mind to global traditions but also creates a fascinating connection between geography, history, biology, and culture.


Step Two - The Eye-Opening Experiment:


Now that you're armed with knowledge about fennel and parsnips, it's time to get cooking! Roast those parsnips and experience how it enhances their subtle sweetness. Saute the fennel and witness its transformation. (Sauteeing fennel is one of my favorite smells, try it out!) These different cooking methods not only tantalize your taste buds but also promote keen observation skills and impart scientific knowledge. You'll even learn some chemistry principles like caramelization and the Maillard Reaction!


Step Three - The Freedom of Creation:


By now, you're a pro when it comes to your chosen ingredient. It's time to let your creativity shine by incorporating it into an old favorite. Picture fennel adding a new twist to your classic pizza or parsnips bringing extra texture to your beloved stew. The possibilities are endless and remember, cooking is all about embracing innovation! This allows for out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving skills, and even a little arithmetic as you scale up or down your recipes.


Step Four - Culinary Contemplation:


After this weekly food journey, take a moment to reflect on your flavor expedition. Which recipe was everyone's favorite, and how can you make it even better? What worked well, and what could use some improvement? This thoughtful contemplation encourages problem-solving and critical thinking skills while fostering an appreciation for homemade meals and culinary diversity.



The "New Ingredient Challenge" is not only an enjoyable extravaganza of tastes but also a fantastic tool for teaching children through real-life learning. So take note parents! I know many of you already use cooking as a teaching tool, but if you don't, I highly recommend giving it a try. And for all you curious adults out there, it's a fantastic way to inject some excitement into your daily meals.


If you happen to be in or visiting Columbia, Missouri, why not take this adventure up a notch with our hands-on cooking classes at Back 2 Basics Cooking? I'm all about fostering culinary curiosity and learning in a fun, interactive environment. Let us guide you through the "New Ingredient Challenge" and discover a world of flavors and techniques.


So, let's embrace the excitement of trying something new every week, enhancing our knowledge, skills, and, of course, our dining tables. Are you ready for this flavorful adventure? Share some of the ingredients you want to or have been exploring lately in the comments section and let's dive into a culinary adventure! Chef Ashley


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