Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

This month I decided to do something a little different and discuss teaching children to cook. My grandmother first got me interested in cooking by letting me help her in the kitchen. I recall that she let me help knead the dough when she made pizza, and even allowed me to make my own individual pizza in my own little pan. I was about 3 years old at the time, and still remember it well.

It is a very good thing to get children interested in cooking at an early age. Of particular importance is teaching them safety in the kitchen. Be sure to supervise your children carefully until they are adept in the kitchen!

One time, I remember that my grandmother was cooking bacon in a skillet with the handle of the skillet pointing over the edge of the stove. She inadvertently bumped the skillet handle, the skillet flipped off the stove, and scalding hot bacon grease came flying in my direction. Somehow, I managed to jump up onto the kitchen table out of harm's way. My grandmother learned that day never to leave the handle of a skillet hanging over the edge of the stove! Always keep the handle of a pot or skillet pointed toward the center of the stove for safety. (As a side note, I still have that skillet and it serves as a constant reminder of safety in the kitchen.)

I wouldn't recommend allowing very young children to use knives. By the time they are 8 to 10 years old however, they should be taught the proper procedures for using knives. For instance, never face the blade toward your hand and always cut with the blade directed away from you or toward a cutting board. Also, keep finger tips away from the knife blade! It is often better when slicing meat or vegetables to tuck your fingertips under, using your knuckles to hold the food you are cutting.

I always instruct children never to leave the stove if they turn on a burner. All too often, they will get involved in watching a TV program or playing a game and forget about the burner, resulting in burnt food, a ruined pan or, worse yet, a fire.

Children generally don't have much patience or a long attention span. So, it is important that they learn to use a timer when baking cookies, pies or other things. Even for adults, a timer is a good reminder. It is also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen. Most kitchen fires should not be doused with water! If the fire is due to grease, water can spread the fire rather than extinguish it. It is better to turn off the burner and smother the fire with a lid, cover, or wet towel. Baking soda can also help extinguish kitchen fires so keep a full box near your stove in case of emergencies.

This month's recipe is a very good one for starting children in the kitchen: little cherry pies. I don't think I ever met a child who didn't like cherry pie. Let your child or children prepare this for desert one evening so that they can feel the joy of being helpful in preparing a family meal. With supervision, even a 3-year-old can prepare this dish. My 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, has prepared this several times over the past couple of years and we all enjoy the results. I'm sure that your family will too!

Be well and good eating!

The recipe presented this month are from my yet to be published cookbook, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests.

Now, on to the recipe!

Little Cherry Pies

  • Individual sized graham cracker crusts, 6 to a package
  • 1 can sweet cherry pie filling
Begin by assembling the ingredient list, a cookie sheet and a large spoon. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the pie crusts by unwrapping them and placing them on a cookie sheet. Then put them into the oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove them and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
Next, open the can of cherry pie filling and spoon the filling into each of the pie shells. One can should be just enough to fill the six pie crusts.

Once all of the pie crusts are filled, place them back into the oven for an additional 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Carefully remove them and allow them to cool before serving.

If you prefer, you can use apple pie filling or any other fruit pie filling instead. One can is enough for six small graham cracker crusts. If you like, you can top the apple filling with a little brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve warm with ice cream on the side if you like. If you have more than 6 crusts, you can make some cherry pies and some apple pies for company or sharing with friends. Any leftovers can be refrigerated and eaten the next day.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes