Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Booster the Babysitter
by SuSu, Mace Vindaloo, Rosie

Menu: Progressive Noodles (for kids of every age) | Rich Whipped Potatoes | Wedding Ring Soup with Meat Dumplings | Spicy Creamed Spinach with Homemade Cheese | Creamy Chicken Stew with Noodly Dumplings, thickened with a Cornstarch Slurry | Booster's Simple Ice Cream Cookies | Yummy Homemade Milk Chocolate Pudding with Whipped or Chantilly Cream | Rainbow Milk

Mara Jade married Luke Skywalker when they were in approaching their 40s, and the friends around them had already been long-married and had spawned children. As a wedding is a joyous occasion that should include all people of all generations, the children were all invited as well. The older ones could be relied upon to behave during the ceremony and reception that followed, but what to do with the younger ones? Having been parentless, Mara and Luke did not want to bar any child from attending. But Luke's sister, Leia, pointed out that there would be many dignitaries from throughout the galaxy and beyond who might not have felt the venue on Coruscant was large enough to accommodate the running around or the "joyous noise" of children. Not all of them would find the sights and sounds of screaming, crying children to be charming!

The solution was simple -- taking their cues from many churches and houses of worship, Mirax Terrik Horn offered to set up a sort of glassed-in children's room set up with a one-way audio system, where they could watch and hear the ceremony, but not be heard themselves. There would be games and such, and a set nap time. They would also be fed and changed according to their needs, rather than being forced to endure the schedules of the adults attending the important ceremony. Mirax was a bridal attendant, and her father, Booster Terrik, had agreed to look after his grandson as she performed her duties. But instead of one child, he found himself with a whole roomful of kids!

Booster philosophically saw this as penance for the five years he'd spent on the penal colony on Kessel, away from this only child. No one knew this, but several times during his imprisonment, Booster had helped care for young children and babies born to the guards and prisoners. It was a relief to be out of the oppressive solitariness of the mines, and he actually discovered he was good at it and liked caring for kids, even the bad ones!

When he was released from his sentence, he vowed to never be alone again if he could help it; thus his decision to manage the space station when Wedge Antilles was planning and funding a private war against Ysanne Isard, and his capture of a Destroyer to use as his own moving world. He remembered when Valin was born that he loved being with kids, and found their company preferable to adults on many occasions. He whined about being tricked into the babysitting gig, but when challenged, he swore to Mirax that a bunch of kids would never get the better of him, and thus he became the babysitter for the Jade/Skywalker wedding.

But he knew that kids were energyballs, and thus he knew he needed to organize something to tire the kids out. Booster commissioned the 'droid cooks to prepare foods appropriate for the wide range of ages present in the room, the sons and daughters of heros of the New Republic. He had all the children help in this activity, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Here are some of the recipes he recommended to the 'droids.

Menu: Progressive Noodles (for kids of every age) | Rich Whipped Potatoes | Wedding Ring Soup with Meat Dumplings | Spicy Creamed Spinach with Homemade Cheese | Creamy Chicken Stew with Noodly Dumplings, thickened with a Cornstarch Slurry | Booster's Simple Ice Cream Cookies | Yummy Homemade Milk Chocolate Pudding with Whipped or Chantilly Cream | Rainbow Milk

Progressive Noodles (for kids of every age)
This recipe is called "progressive" because it suits three different age groups, depending on how "mature" their tastebuds are. Younger minds prefer the buttered noodles without any further adornment. Older kids will accept the bacon and cottage cheese topping, and even older kids and adults will appreciate the green onions added. It also lets the children make decisions about what to put on the noodles -- and kids (and adults) always enjoy the perception of control.
  • 1 lb / 450 g noodles or other dried pasta, cooked and buttered
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (large or small curd)
  • 3 to 4 scallions or green onions
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
(1) Cook pasta according to package directions until soft but still slightly firm when bitten. Drain well and drizzle with melted butter and toss to coat. Put aside a portion for younger and fussier children. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(2) Heat the oven to 325°F / 145°C. Lay the bacon on a cold baking tray and place in the oven. Cook till crispy. Cool on a rack set over a plate, or over paper towels to drain. When cool, crumble the bacon and toss with the hot pasta, along with the cottage cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put aside a portion for older children and those with an aversion to onions.

(3) Slice the scallions thinly, and add to the previous mixture, and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve to older kids and adults.

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Rich Whipped Potatoes
This is the standard by which all mashed potatoes should be measured! They're rich, smooth, and free of lumps. All beings -- from babies to the elderly, of almost every species -- love this dish. It's a good way to "build up" fussy eaters who may not get enough calories to grow. Of course, for those of us long past the need to grow up, it's an irresistable dish, so a measure of "restraint" needs to be included in the ingredient list! Booster had many of the children peeling potatoes, which they loved. No admonishments about cutting themselves -- Booster knew Bacta would cure any accidents to little fingers, and he loved seeing how proud the kids were of their accomplishment.
  • about 2 lbs / 1 kg Idaho potatoes (the mealy/floury ones used for baked potatoes), peeled and stored in a bowl of cold water
  • 1 cup milk, heated to a simmer
  • 4 tablespoons whole butter (1 stick / 120 g), melted
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (use a good quality extra virgin olive oil)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste (use ground white pepper if you prefer not to detract from the appearance of the snowy-white potatoes)
Cut the potatoes in golf-ball sized pieces and place in a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook till the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer till the potatoes become smooth. With the mixer on, slowly add the hot milk. Then drizzle in the melted butter, then the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl or in a casserole to warm in the oven.

Serves 4 as a main meal, or more as a side dish.

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Meat Dumpling Soup with Wedding Rings
Booster had the children contribute toward the making of a soup with meat dumplings in it, but it was enriched with vegetables -- a way for the kids to get their proper nutrients. The younger kids could have it puréed, more like babyfood. Syal Antilles, the elder daughter of Wedge and Iella, demanded that "wedding rings" be put into the soup. Booster wondered what she meant, till Myri, Syal's younger sister, toddled over with a box of pasta shaped like rings! It was Luke and Mara's wedding, so Booster added them in.
    Meat Dumplings
  • 1½ lb / 700 g ground meat (mix of beef and turkey is good, or beef and pork, or "meatloaf mix")
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano, or Locatelli)
Combine the ground meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, basil, parsley and cheese. Mix well and form into bite-size balls.

    Wedding Ring Soup
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth, heated
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups dried ditalini, or other ring-shaped pasta
  • Meat Dumplings
  • 1 large head escarole, cleaned and chopped or 1 lb / 450 g baby spinach
Heat oil in a large soup pot. When hot, toss in the carrots, celery, onion and cook till softened. Add the oregnao and bay leaves, then carefully pour in the broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drop the dried pasta and the raw meat dumplings into the boiling soup and stir to prevent them sticking together and to prevent "cold spots." When the dumplings rise up to the surface and the pasta is tender, dump in the escarole or spinach and cook till they are wilted. Retaste and reseason with salt and pepper.

Serves 6 as a main course.

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Spicy Creamed Spinach with Homemade Cheese
Creamed spinach is a great favorite among children and many men. It's familiar to them and Booster discovered that it was the perfect medium to introduce spices and cheese to Mirax when she was a young girl. He figured what could it hurt to expose these kids to more than baby pabulum? Of course, the kids could reject it if they wish; like the Progressive Noodles, a portion could be made without the spices. At the very worst, Booster liked it, and he'd be happy to finish it al if the kids didn't want it. Anyway, he knew the children would enjoy the process of making the cheese, even if they don't end up eating it. It's a bit weird and smelly, but what kid doesn't enjoy screaming, "EEEUW!" with their friends?
Before starting, prepare a sieve or colander and line it with a triple layer of cheesecloth, which has been rinsed in cold water.

Bring the milk to a boil, then add the lemon juice. Turn the heat to low and stir the mixture slowly. The milk proteins should curdle. Cook at a simmer for a minute -- you will smell the milk proteins cooking. The whey will be a greenish yellow color.

Carefully pour the curds through the cheesecloth, allowing the whey to drain through. This might take a while. Let it drain, then fold the edges of the cheescloth over the cheese to enclose it. Place on a flat surface that can be drained, such as the flat bottom of a wide colander. Place a flat plate over that and weight it down with other plates or cans. Leave to drain and press overnight. Refrigerate.

    Spicy Creamy Spinach
  • 2 lb / 900 g fresh or frozen baby spinach
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ pound homemade cheese, whole
  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeld and grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ cup cream or buttermilk
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • salt, to taste
  • milk, to thin the mixture, if desired
Place the spinach in a pot with water and simmer till the spinach is wilted. Drain in a colander and refresh with cold water. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then chop the spinach fine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and carefully place the whole cheese into the oil. Let cook till a browned crust is formed, then carefully flip to brown the other side. Put aside on a plate and cut into cubes.

In the same skillet, cook the onions, garlic, ginger till softened. Sprinkle curry powder over and cook till the curry powder is toasted, about a minute. Add the reserved chopped spinach and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat and add cream and yogurt, and stir to mix. Gently fold in the cheese. Season to taste with salt. The mixture will be rather creamy and quite thick. Thin with milk if you wish.

Serves 6.

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Creamy Chicken Stew with Noodly Dumplings
This recipe has dumplings that are more like noodles, rather than like biscuits. This makes it a fun activity in which kids can take part, since the dumpling dough is not sensitive to handling, as a biscuit or scone type dough might be. It also uses a prepared canned soup concentrate as the basis for the sauce, but it's enriched with aromatic vegetables. Even the fussy eaters commented on how good it smelled and though they pushed the vegetables aside on their plates, they admitted it made the sauce taste good. It's a creamy comfort dish, and one that's popular with any aged crowd.
    Noodly Dumplings
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup ice water, plus extra
Mix the flour and salt together and make a well in the center of the pile of dry ingredients. Add ice water to the well, then work it into the dry ingredients. Knead the dough into a ball, adding water or flour to make it cohesive without being too sticky. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough -- it's very stiff, and you might prefer to use a pasta machine instead of a rolling pin. Roll it out to about 1/8-inch in thickness (about 3 mm). Cut into 1-inch/ 2½ cm x ½-in / 1 cm rectangles.

    Chicken Stew
  • 1 "fryer" chicken, cut up into parts (you can use boned chicken parts if you prefer, you'll need about 1¾ lbs / 750 g of meat)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper (black or white, as you prefer)
  • 2 quarts / 2 litres chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 (10¾ oz/ 300 g) can condensed cream of celery soup or cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup
  • Noodly Dumplings
In a large pot, place the chicken, celery, onion, bayleaves, salt, pepper and garlic powder, then cover with the broth. If you need additional liquid, add more broth or use water. Heat gently and simmer for about 30 minutes till the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside till cooled, then pick off the skin and bones and discard. Shred or chop the meat into chunks and return to the broth. Add the canned soup to the broth and return to a simmer. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, to taste. If the broth is too thin for you, you can thicken it by making a cornstarch slurry and whisking it into the stew, then bringing it to a boil. Lower the heat back down so the stew simmers.

Without stirring, drop the noodly dumplings into the soup. You can gently rotate the pot to move the dumplings around and to keep them in the liquid. The dumplings are ready when they float up to the surface. Try one before serving -- it should not be sticky or too doughy.

Serves 6 or so.

In a small, clean jar with a screw-top lid, place the cornstarch and cold water. Close the jar and shake to combine well. Dump all at once into a simmering stew and quickly stir or whisk to combine. Heat to boiling with continuous stirring till the soup or stew is thickened.

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Booster's Simple Ice Cream Cookies
This is a simple dessert, comprised of store-bought cookies and ice cream. The novelty is how they are presented together. Children love being able to make decisions about what they eat or what they wear. Put out a selection of cookies with a basic selection of ice creams for the kids to make their own combinations, or do as Booster had the 'droid do, while the kids were napping. When it was time to wake up, no child could resist the following versions of milk and cookies!
    For one ice cream cookie sandwich
  • 2 plain cookies, any size or flavor (plain biscuits like Nilla Vanilla wafers work well, but then so do homemade chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies!)
  • depending on the desired thickness of each cookie sandwich and the diameter of the cookies used, between 1 and 4 tablespoons ice cream
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of chocolate sauce
Soften the ice cream by putting it into the microwave for a few seconds, or simply leaving it out at room temperature for 10 or so minutes. The larger the container, the longer it will need to be exposed to heat to soften. If the ice cream starts to get runny on the edges, you can mix it all together to a uniform creaminess. Alternatively, you can just slice through the hard frozen block or cylindar of ice cream with a clean bread knife.

Either way, either scoop or slice the ice cream and place between two cookies. Place back in the freezer for an hour to harden before serving. If you wish, dip half the cookie in chocolate sauce as you serve them.

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Yummy Homemade Milk Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream or Chantilly Cream
There are many commercial powdered pudding mixes, many not even requiring heat. But it's good to know how to make a real pudding, so that the child can appreciate when the pudding is made more simply and not take it for granted. Same with whipping cream by hand, too. (Having had a hard life, Booster hates when anyone takes ANYTHING for granted, even something like a quick-fix pudding mix!)
  • 1 quart / 4 cups whole milk (about 4% milkfat content)
  • 1½ cups white granulated sugar
  • 8 oz / 225 g milk chocolate bar, chopped or broken up
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup cornstarch or cornflour
    • plus ¼ cup cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • whipped cream or Chantilly Cream (kids like canned spray whipped cream -- feel free to use that if preferred)
In a saucepan, heat the milk and sugar together to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the chocolate pieces and continue stirring to melt and combine the chocolate bar into the milk. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggyolks together, then add a half cup of the warm chocolate and milk mixture to the yolks and whisk together quickly. (This is called "tempering" for heat.) Then whisk the yolks into the saucepan, being careful to keep the heat to a gentle simmer, not a boil (or you'll end up with chocolate flavored scrambled eggs!) In the just-emptied bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and extra milk till smooth and combined. Add this to the chocolate mixture and whisk quickly and thoroughly. Slowly increase the heat to a gentle boiling, stirring the whole time -- the pudding will start to thicken from the bottom of the pan, and stirring will prevent the eggs from going lumpy or the pudding from burning. Remove the pot completely from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and butter.

Pour the pudding out into a serving dish, or into individual bowls. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly ON the surface of the pudding, to prevent the top from drying out and forming that icky skin. Chill in the refridgerator till completely cold. Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream, or whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Serves 8, or fewer if the kids are overenthusiastic about licking the bowl ...

You will need two large bowls, one that can nest into the other. You need something to beat the cream with -- you can use either an electric mixer or a hand-held balloon whisk. Place the beaters in the freezer to chill. You will need enough ice to nearly half-fill the bigger bowl. Nestle the second bowl into the ice, then add some water to make a water-bath -- don't use so much that it'll slosh into the second bowl. You just need to keep it cold, the ice and water is not an ingredient.

When all the equipment is very cold, pour the cream into the inside bowl. Using the chilled beater, beat the cream till it's thickened. When it starts to thicken and increase in volume, sprinkle the powdered sugar over the cream (this step is optional; you don't have to add sugar, but if you do, this is called chantilly cream) and continue to beat. You want to get to soft peaks -- if you overbeat, the cream will "seize up" into a grainy-looking, lumpy mass. It'll taste okay, but it's not beautiful to look at. Don't beat farther than this lumpy point, or you'll end up breaking down the cream too far, and it will form lumps of butter.

This will happen MUCH more quickly if everything is cold. If you don't have the time or resources to chill everything, just be aware that you will need to expend a lot more effort and time to whipping the cream. Keep the cream covered and chilled till you need it.

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Rainbow Milk
This is a treat that perhaps only children can understand and love ... most adults find it repulsive; the thought of purple or pink milk can cause many to go queasy. But Booster knows that children are not simply small adults -- they are alien beings with different sensibilities and diets. Well, not really, but if he remember they are so different, then Booster finds them easier and more pleasant to handle. He handles alien cultures and species the same way! (You can prepare a "buffet" of "rainbow milk" for the kids to choose from, which they loved. When they saw it, they all cheered, "Hooray for Grampy Booster!" Corran Horn, his son-in-law, called him "Grumpy Booster" for a while after that.)
    For one serving
  • 8 oz / 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon powdered, colorful, flavored drink mix (flavors such as cherry, raspberry, strawberry, orange, grape, chocolate, etc. are very popular)
Pour the milk into a blender or a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Add the powdered drink mix to taste, put the lid on the blender or the jar, and mix very well -- till the powder is dissolved and the milk is foamy. Pour out into the appropriately sized and shaped glass (or even a baby bottle) for the child to drink. You can increase the proportions to feed multiple or bigger children, of course, but don't overfill the jar or the blender -- you need quite a bit of air to get the foaminess to an appealing level.

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