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KIDS IN THE KITCHEN : Some Safety Tips for the Pint-Size Chef

June 28, 1990|JOAN DRAKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cooking should be a fun activity for children, but it's important that it also be a safe experience. Youngsters need to be taught that special care is necessary when using a range top, oven, appliances and sharp kitchen tools.

Pint-size chefs should always have an adult nearby to demonstrate basic techniques, answer questions and assist whenever needed. Naturally, older, more experienced chefs will need less help than younger, inexperienced cooks.

BASIC RULES OF THE KITCHEN

When using the range top, oven or appliances that produce heat:

* Protect hands with hot pads or mitts.

* Use wooden spoons rather than metal (which can become hot) for stirring food during cooking.

* Be certain handles of pans on the range top do not extend over the edge where they can be easily bumped and spilled.

* When removing the lid from a pan, tilt the lid away from you to avoid the hot, escaping steam.

* Set hot pans on a trivet, wire rack or heat-proof surface.

Keep the following in mind when working with knives, scissors, peelers, melon ballers and graters:

\f7 SLICING/CUTTING:

* Pick up a knife by the handle, not the blade.

* Place the food on a cutting board. Never cut anything while holding it in your hand.

* Anchor the item by holding it a safe distance from where the knife will be cutting.

CUTTING ALTERNATIVES:

* Scissors may be substituted for many cutting tasks: cutting pita bread in half and tortillas into wedges; snipping herbs and dried fruit. Small-size kitchen shears are easier for children to manipulate. Be sure to snip foods over a cutting board or wax paper.

* Melon ballers are another alternative to knives. Use not only for melons, but other fleshy fruit and potatoes. Insert the tool down into fruit, then rotate to cut ball and remove.

PEELING:

* Hold the food item firmly in one hand.

* Begin scraping a safe distance from the hand holding the food.

* Always scrape away from you.

* Rotate the food to scrape all sides.

* Turn the food and repeat the process on the other end.

SHREDDING:

* Place a sheet of wax paper under the shredder to catch the food.

* Hold the shredder with one hand.

* Press the food down across the shredder to cut it into long, thin shreds.

* Watch that fingers and knuckles do not get too close to the cutting edge.

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