Seb, my eldest, went into school dressed as pirate on Friday last week – complete with oversized pirate hat and a moustache and beard drawn on with eyeliner. The reason for this unusual attire in school was Pirate Day: a day comprising offsite pirate-themed activities. Atticus, not wanting Seb to have all the fun, also insisted on taking part so also spent the day dressed as a pirate. That was all good until I took him swimming and spent a couple of minutes wondering why people were staring at him and looking at me strangely. I am that mother who looks at her son with an eyeliner beard and moustache as we are about to go swimming and doesn’t twig that there may be something wrong with his appearance. Oh well, at least he was happy! No harm done and Atticus didn’t understand the lifeguard’s comment about having aged a lot since the last time she saw him!
As this was Seb’s first school trip, I decided that the occasion had to be marked and what better way to do this than with pirate-themed food? This started the debate of what a pirate actually eats. Simon said that it had to be something they could mainly eat with their hands as he couldn’t imagine them eating a formal meal or using cutlery. I had tropical fruit on the brain as I always imagine pirates living in hot places. I am pretty sure that Pirates of the Caribbean is the reason for this, but seriously can you imagine a pirate living in our relatively cool climate?! Fuelled by these two ideas I set about trying to combine them. I came up with two ideas, both of which sounded fun so instead of having to choose which one would be best, I decided we would have a go at both.
The two ideas were:
- Pineapple and Coconut Granola for breakfast. It seems this flavour combination of granola will now be known as Pirate Cereal. We do end up with some funny names for things in this house and they invariably stick. I am sure this also happens in other families. Please, please, please don’t tell me it is only ours… This recipe is suitable for children of all ages as they can all have a go at pouring and mixing.
- Sticky Citrus Chicken Drumsticks for dinner or tea or whatever you wish to call it… I seem to be unable to call it tea. It was always called dinner when I was growing up in Surrey, but despite my time in the North and now the Midlands I still refer to my evening meal as dinner and get confused when Seb refers to dinner at school. Isn’t language wonderful?! Anyway, putting all regional variations aside, let’s get back to the recipes. This recipe is suitable for older children as it involves zesting and juicing which are both slightly more difficult skills to master.
To make the granola you will need:
- 2 cups of oats (you could substitute some of these oats for rice crispies.) Although I have not tried this recipe with gluten-free oats, I see no reason why gluten free oats wouldn’t work.
- 1 cup of desiccated coconut
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1/2tsp salt
- 50 ml melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp coconut extract (or vanilla if you prefer)
- 1/4 cup of honey (preferably runny honey)
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- Approximately 1/2 cup of dried pineapple
- Approximately 1/2 cup of raisins
- 1/2 cup of flaked almonds or chopped mixed nuts
- Preheat the oven to 180°c and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper or silicone baking sheets.
- In a large bowl mix the oats, desiccated coconut, cinnamon and salt together well.
- In a smaller bowl or a jug, mix the honey, melted coconut oil (or vegetable oil), brown sugar and coconut extract (or vanilla extract).
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the oat mixture and mix thoroughly until all coated.
- Spread the oat mixture out on the two baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn to ensure it doesn’t burn and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. You will need to watch it carefully (especially in the latter five minutes) to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Leave to cool and then store in an airtight container.
To make the chicken drumsticks you will need:
- 1 pack of chicken drumsticks (you could use chicken thighs or breasts if you like, but as it was pirate food and fingers were allowed for the chicken we went with drumsticks.)
- 2tsp cornflour
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2tbsp runny honey
- 2tbsp soy sauce
- Remove the skin from the drumsticks and preheat the oven to 200°c fan. My children are 5, 3 and 1 so they did not help to remove the skin.
- Put the drumsticks into an ovenproof dish and cook for 25 minutes.
- Zest all the citrus fruit and put the zest into a bowl – my children love the idea of the zester, but in reality they struggle to use it so they have a couple of attempts and then I finish the process off for them.
- Slice all of the fruit and juice. We have a handheld press which works really well, but anyway you fancy is fine, but do watch out for the pips! You will see that this step did require the help of some of the Thunderbirds and Atticus is even dressed as Scott Tracy for the occasion. I will say that fancy dress is optional for this bit, but they do enjoy it! (ps he still had his pirate beard at this time mainly intact despite swimming!)
- Add the cornflour to the zest and juice and mix well. Add the soy sauce and the honey and mix some more until all combined.
- Pour it over the chicken. Please remember the pan will be hot. I tend to place the dish a distance from the child who is doing to pouring so they can’t burn themselves. Adult: turn the chicken in the sauce to ensure it is fully coated.
- Cook for 10 minutes further ensuring that every couple of minutes you spoon the sauce back over the chicken. If the sauce becomes too thick add some more water.
Both these dishes were enjoyed by all little pirates, some of them even polished off two bowls of cereal before leaving the house before the day’s activities! The chicken drumsticks didn’t survive until the following morning as three hungry children and their dad ensured they gobbled them up amid discussions of future pirate adventures.