Make Me an Omelet! (OK, You’re an Omelet.)
Picture it: A dream kitchen, filled with high-end appliances that would make Food Network chefs jealous — for your kids. The Viking Store’s cooking camps introduce young chefs to global cuisines and teach food preparation techniques, including chopping, dicing, slicing, poaching, steaming and how to use kitchen instruments safely. (Yes, there are tons of adult classes, too.) For kids 7 to 17, a one-week camp is $300 to $325; (216) 381-2100, www.thevikingstore.net; 24703 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst (Legacy Village)
A Manageable Market
The Painesville Farmers’ Market features locally grown fresh produce, meats, baked items and flowers. It’s an intimate farmers’ market, usually drawing 10 to 20 vendors. On certain dates, enjoy street entertainers and live music. Bonus: Dogs are welcome! Visit the organic dog biscuit booth and buy Fido a treat. Every Thursday, 2-6 p.m. through Oct. 26. www.painesville.com, (440) 392-5795; 177 Main St. (parking lot of the Job and Family Services Building), Painesville
A Treat to Eat
Good food lures hungry nature lovers to Sweetwater Landing, the sights and trails keep them in the park. Order a Caesar salad for yourself and get the kids their grilled cheese fix from the kiddie menu, take it outside to a picnic table and watch local anglers reel in their catches, then stroll along the riverfront with an ice cream cone. www.sweetwaterlanding.com, (216) 228-2233; 1500 Scenic Park Drive, Lakewood (at the Emerald Necklace Marina in Cleveland’s Rocky River Metropark)
Shop, Bake, Shop
The littlest pastry chefs can make their own birthday cakes and eat them too at Sherry Tanno’s (aka Betty Buns) birthday cake parties. She operates a mini cooking school and teaches table setting at Heinen’s in Pepper Pike. The Heinen’s stores in Bainbridge, Brecksville, Chardon and Twinsburg provide free Activity Centers where moms and dads can drop the kids while they browse the aisles. Activity Center is for kids 3 to 9. Betty Buns parties are approx. $156 for up to 12 kids; other programs, such as the basic skills class for kids 4 and 5 and their parents, are around $20. www.heinens.com, Pepper Pike location: (440) 729-0904, 30849 Pinetree Road
Yummy in the Tummy
Kids and parents learn to measure, mix and make dishes that’ll amaze their friends and grandparents at the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking. Tots in Toques, $45 for kids 3 to 6, asserts that it’s never too early to don a white paper chef hat. Preschool kids and the ’rents make spaghetti with meatballs and an ice-cream-filled cookie. www.lpscinc.com, (440) 729-1110; 8613 Mayfield Road, Chesterland
Straight From TV
The Food Network filmed Laurel Run Cooking School’s Creepy Cuisine Class in 2003 and has been airing it every October since. Attend in person to learn how to make spider web soup, a hairball with nachos, snouts and beans, plasma punch, crunchy bones, deviled mice and pizza snakes. Creepy Cuisine is for kids 8 to 16 and costs $45. www.laurelruncookingschool.com, (440) 984-LRCS; 2600 North Ridge Road, Vermilion
Pick it Out, Pack it Up
Patterson’s Fruit Farm offers pick-your-own apples and pumpkins on its family farm. The market is stocked with apples and cider as well as pumpkins and maple products. Family Fun Fest is just $5 per person and runs Sept. 16 through Oct. 29. Climb hay bales, ride a hay wagon and find your way through a corn stalk maze. www.pattersonfarm.com, (440) 729-9809; 11414 Caves Road (market) and 8765 Mulberry (Family Fun Fest), Chesterland
One Worth the Drive
As part of The Culinary Vegetable Institute, Veggie U really wants to get kids excited about eating their Brussels sprouts. With awesome classes and access to a gorgeous kitchen garden, maybe your picky eaters really will find something to love. Chef Harv’s Easy Bites class, on Aug. 16, includes an interactive demo and lunch. December’s workshop includes a completed take-home gingerbread house. Classes listed are for kids 6 to 12, $35 for first child and $25 for additional kids. www.veggieu.org; (419) 499-7500; 12304 state Rt. 13, Milan
|Conquering the West Side Market
Leah Lubin Seper takes sons Colin, 3, and Connor, 1, on a whirlwind adventure through the venerable site.
1. Fruit and Vegetable Arcade: Bursting with vibrant colors and fresh smells. Sky-high piles. Free bite-size samples. I choose a toothpick-pierced cantaloupe wedge. Connor snatches it, gulps, grins.
2. Frank’s Bratwurst: Always a line. Moves fast, though. Plump, homemade German Bratwurst oozing with juice. Spices are mild and kid-friendly for Colin but flavorful enough for Dad. Comes with/without sauerkraut and standard condiments ($3; $2.50).
3. Vera’s Bakery: “Oooh, oooh, kolaches,” Colin says wide-eyed, snatching the raspberry Polish cookie ($10.50 per pound). Chocolate coconut squares ($1.10 each) are killer.
4. The Candy Corner: Sugar rush. More than 150 candy varieties, including the kid’s best seller, juicy drop pops ($1.50 each): A flattened syringe expunges assorted flavored syrup onto a lollipop. Something for everyone, including Lemonheads ($2.99 per pound) for me.
5. Critical Pit-Stop: Bathrooms. Because we know “I have to go potty,” means pronto.
6. The Balcony: Amazing bird’s-eye view. Families can sit, eat and people watch. Be careful — seats tilt downward and are slick. Boys are exceptionally well-behaved. Colin munches away on brats. Connor is taking it all in. His face, covered in chocolate squares, is flush against the column railing.