My 6 year old child really likes to play "spices" where we put various herbs, spices, flour, and other ingredients into small jars, set those on a baking sheet, and give her a mixing bowl. She mixes them and, usually, makes some sort of dough she wants to bake. She has a lot of fun doing this and it helps her experience new scents and flavors. Historically we just buy cheap spices at the store and don't really overthink it.
So far the main problems we have had are:
- We have a hard time finding complementary herbs/spices that can be mixed in somewhat arbitrary proportions and not end up completely disgusting. Sometimes the spices conflict with each other and sometimes they are spices you generally don't use more than a tiny pinch.
- Since she wants to bake things, we try to provide something to make it "bakeable" such as baking soda, yeast, sometimes even eggs. Usually, though, the end result is unappealing - often too spongy or too hard - and she doesn't want to try it. When it isn't unappealing she really likes it and finds it rewarding.
It would be really nice if we could put a little more prep work into this and be able to give her all her ingredients to play with, knowing that they are the right proportions that make something relatively palatable in the end, and be able to do this repeatedly.
She does also help us with "real" recipes which is obviously a critical thing for helping hear learn and understand cooking, but this self-directed play is really important to her and helps expand her palate and calm her.
It would be nice if I could come up with the following system:
- measure out a set of ingredients and put them into appropriately-sized jars
- nearly all ingredients are dry and would not spoil in a week or so
- give her all the jars on a baking sheet along with any water needed
- have a pre-defined temperature and time for baking
- when combined, the entirety of the ingredients would be tasty when baked
- when some ingredients are not fully used (randomly), would not be terrible when baked
- clean up afterwards; be able to repeat this over and over without too much expense (no saffron, etc.)
How can I approach this task?