If there is one thing that has made being a contestant on MasterChefNZ worthwhile it has been the honour of being a part of the team at Ronald McDonald House in Auckland. (Well, OK I have to admit that I really like being on the Good Morning Show with Jeanette too!)
Back to RMDH Auckland. Whenever I walk into the house I am amazed time and again by the positive energy of the families who are staying there and of all the staff who make it all possible.
Today, Christopher and I created a little Mini MasterChef environment for the children at the house – for those who could join in and have an opportunity to cook with us. This was a chance for them all to ‘bEAT it!’ – ie. a moment to create and then to enjoy their own food creations. I was so proud of everyone. My 11 year old was a powerhouse of energy, rounding up children to join us and then demonstrating knife skills before handing over to let them have a turn. A couple of times I looked at him and was so blown away by his mature empathy and ability to assist without taking over from their experience. (I wish he was like that with his younger brother at home!)
But, of course even more important was seeing the children of the house, captivated in the task of making dumplings. Children, who stated they hated vegetables, happily chopping mushrooms and grating carrots to add to their mixture. Kids who said they didn’t even know what a dumpling was, creating several of them before getting ready to cook. One little boy was desperate for the ‘fire’. “When do we stop prepping and get to really cook” he asked several times. Yet, he was the one still helping to clean up with me at the bitter end and begging me to come back Friday or Monday or whenever….so he could cook again.
I asked Christopher how he felt at one point about giving up his own holiday day to come and help me. “Mum, you just have to look at everyone’s faces – there are smiles everywhere” And he was right. The kids loved being allowed to use a knife. Even if you are stuck in a chair and only have the use of one arm, you can still chop a chive – and by golly these kids cut. They did it all – from chopping, to grating, to whisking, to folding. And then the fun of the gas burners and individual frypans. Everyone got to fry the bottoms of their dumplings before steaming them to finish. And moments later, dumplings were being dunked into soy sauce and being consumed by whole families. Discussions began about creating wrappers with gluten free flour; what different fillings we could do and how children loved the tactile opportunity of filling and pinching the wrappers. An hour passed with children involved all the way from 4 years old to teenagers. One boys impressed me so much with his constant enquiries about how to make his better. He created different folds and cooked them all perfectly. His self pride was evident and well deserved.
This was an awesome day. Yesterday, I appeared on TV with my wonderful sons and I loved being able to share a little fame and glory with them. I was noticed at the mall afterwards and someone even stopped to ask if I would wait whilst they collected their whole family for a photo. But, today meant a whole lot more. To give such a little to people who are so appreciative is the biggest reward of all. Thank you again Ronald McDonald House for your ongoing support and love when I come to visit 🙂
Recipes for dumplings on the recipe pages