During holidays, the kitchen need not be off limits to children

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Children may remember their first pair of roller skates, but mixing a batch of cookies with Mom or creating a salad with grandparents is something they will recall with special feeling. Since one of the important values of the holidays is the act of sharing, it's nice to provide an opportunity by encouraging youngsters to help create menus, to do some cooking, and even to serve when the occasion is appropriate.

In choosing recipes such as those included here, keep in mind that the time involvement should be about an hour, recipes should be simple, and the cost of ingredients should be low.

Read the recipe with the children before starting. With their help, place everything together that you will need.

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Keep a damp sponge handy to wipe spills and place the garbage pail nearby for easy cleanup. It's not too far-fetched to place newspapers under and around the kitchen table. Go over the following rules with them. Rules for boys and girls

1. Wash hands with soap and warm water.

2. If you have long hair, tie it back.

3. Use a table knife for cutting or, if you're 7 or older, a small paring knife.

4. Work on a wooden cutting board.

5. Do not use electrical appliances.

6. Follow directions exactly.

7. Use the kitchen tools that are suggested.

8. When heating something, like the chocolate and milk in the No-Bake Brownies, remember to:

Ask a grown-up to turn on the heat.

Keep saucepan handle away from edge of stove.

Ask a grown-up to pour the heated milk.

Children, whose minds seem less cluttered than those of adults, will generally abide by the rules and pay careful attention. Their powers of concentration are keen.

About clean-up, be flexible. Of course they should help and that can be pleasant with clean sponges, ample towels, and nice-smelling soap. Cleaning up as you go, too, is always a good practice. A small boy in one of my classes once complained, ``When my dad cooks, I have to clean up; but when I cook, he says, `You have to learn to clean up after yourself.' '' Chicken Salad 2 cans (5 ounces each) chicken or heaping measuring cup of leftover 4 to 6 inner stalks celery Mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste Lettuce leaves Can opener 1-cup measuring cup Table or paring knife Wooden cutting board Mixing bowl Tablespoon Mixing spoon Platter

1. Wipe off the top of the can with a clean sponge. Depending upon your age, you may need to ask an adult to open can and throw away the top which has a sharp edge.

2. Drain any liquid off chicken. Put chicken on cutting board and cut into small pieces.

3. Wash and dry celery. Cut crosswise into thin half-circles. Add to chicken.

4. Add a small amount of mayonnaise at a time, about 3 regular tablespoons. Mix thoroughly.

5. Wash lettuce leaves, pat dry with paper towel, and place on platter. Spoon salad into center, and add small tomatoes or slices. Serves 3 or 4. Suggested Menu: Chicken Salad Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches (Whole Wheat Bread) No-Bake Brownies Milk No-Bake Brownies 1 cup unsalted walnuts or pecans 4 cups graham cracker crumbs 1 cup confectioners' sugar 3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Margarine to grease pan 8- or 9-inch square pan Paring knife Chopping board Large mixing bowl 1- and 2-cup measuring cups Measuring spoons Mixing spoon Rubber spatula Saucepan

1. Grease pan with margarine lightly.

2. Chop nuts on board.

3. Pour nuts, crumbs, and sugar into bowl. Stir.

4. Heat chocolate and evaporated milk over medium heat. Stir until blended. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

5. Gradually pour mixture over nuts, crumbs, and sugar. Stir again. If mixture is too stiff to stir, add several more tablespoons of warm milk, one at a time.

6. Spread evenly in pan with spatula.

7. Cover with foil. Chill 4 to 6 hours.

8. Cut into squares and wrap each individually if desired. Makes about 16 pieces.

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