It is Saturday night and I can’t wait for the “Mother’s Day hunt” that Julia has spent hours preparing – and almost revealing – to surprise me in the morning: “Mom, don’t look behind me in this corner, if you see a jar with a red lid around here, don’t look!”. That is one sweet girl.
I’ve been feeling less of the mother I strive to be in the last several months, with less time, less outings and adventures and a lot more things to juggle. That guilt most of us experience from time to time also comes with a sense of accomplishment and pride for taking a leap, moving forward with courage and faith towards what I love doing: interacting with children and cooking. I am teaching kids basic culinary skills right from the charming little cooking classroom I created in our home: Together We Cook is officially born.
After my very first official class I can say that a group of children cooking together results in a lot more than a meal, as I expected. In that 1:30h that we worked together, we all tried something new, tasted a different ingredient and learned from each other. Kids had different paces and favored different activities and foods, but they all particpated fully and were eager to work – from peeling vegetables to cooking on the stove top or washing dishes.
My own kids were super excited and proud of themselves, and that’s when that pre-Mother’s Day guilt of being less of the Mom I want to be went away. I am giving my children less of the previous me, but I am giving them something new and different. An opportunity to be with me as I teach others, to watch me follow my heart and try something new, to teach and learn with me and from other children and to feel proud and inspired. And tired. And maybe bored after a while (it doesn’t take long for an 8 year old, does it?). But I’ll take the sense of accomplishment that we felt after our first class and soak it in for a bit.
I’m not going to fool you, it was far from perfect. We forgot the salt on the salad dressing, the oven mitts I bought are too small, we had way too much lettuce and not enough brigadeiros. There is a lot to learn and improve, and that should be the philosophy in anything that we do in life. But I am very happy and thankful. We’ll keep on planning, testing, cooking, planting, harvesting and growing, in many, many ways.
And here is my recipe for you today: Brazilian tapioca crepes, called just tapiocas in Brazil. It makes for a light and healthy brunch item with a Brazilian flair.
In Brazil, the pre-hydrated tapioca starch is readily available, all you have to do is sprinkle it straight on the skillet or pass it through a strainer first for a smoother and thiner tapioca crepe. Here you can find the hydrated tapioca starch at Amazon, at European Foods in Arlington (if you are in the DC area), and possibly at Latino supermarkets. Otherwise, you can buy regular tapioca starch at most supermarkets (I found mine at Whole Foods) and hydrate it with a bit of water, like the children did this week. Kids love this part, since they love anything that lets them mix with their hands.
TAPIOCAS (BRAZILIAN CREPES)
Servings: 6 crepes
3 cups of tapioca starch
1 1/3 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
Fillings of your choice: shredded cheese and/or meat, chopped tomatoes, chopped up veggies, pesto, etc. For a sweet flavor, try nutela, peanut butter or brigadeiro and banana slices.
1. Place the tapioca starch in a bowl. Add the water, little by little, stirring with your fingers. The mixture will form hard clumps that you can break into smaller clumps with your fingers.
2. Keep stirring and adding water gradually until the entire mixture is in the form of medium to small balls. If the mixture starts to look like a thick liquid (kids will love this part – think slime), add a bit more tapioca. The mixture needs to be moistened almost to the point of starting to look like slime.
3. Heat a small nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for a minute or so. It is ready when you sprinkle a little tapioca on the skillet and it pops.
4. Using your hands or a spatula, press the tapioca through a strainer sprinkling it over the skillet in a thin layer. Cook for about 40 seconds, or until the crepe slides easily in the pan. Add your fillings, fold in half and cook for a few seconds more to warm the fillings. Fold the crepe and slide it onto a plate. Serve tapioca crepes warm – they will become hard as they cool.