Aarti and Arvind were slumped on the sofa. There was a power cut so there was no TV and playing card games seemed too tiring without the fan. Opening the fridge, Arvind was miffed to see the juice bottles missing.

“We finished it long ago,” said Aarti, “there's nothing other than water to drink.”

“That's the best,” said grandfather from behind the newspaper he was reading. Lakshmi chitti from Delhi who was holidaying with them, seeing their long faces called out, “Come, I'll teach you to make a cool jug of nimbu pani.”'“But they are already clean,” protested Arvind.

“Yes, but it is always better to rinse them to be doubly sure, there might be dirt we can't see,” said their chitti.

Lassi, salad and more

“But Amma will never let us into the kitchen,” wailed Aarti, who had several times unsuccessfully tried to make “things” in the kitchen. Seeing their mother's horrified expression Lakshmi chitti pacified her, “Don't worry akka, I'll see to it that they use things carefully, and not hurt themselves.”

The kitchen was spacious and airy. The canopy of trees rustled in a breeze.

“I wish I can tie a hammock under the trees and sleep,” mused Arvind.

“No you don't,” said Aarti firmly, “we are going to make nimbu pani.”

“First, wash your hands and rinse out the utensils,” said their grandmother who was cutting vegetables in the kitchen.

“Cold lassi, both sweet and salt is easy to make and are great thirst quenchers. So is rose milk,” went on the kids' aunt as she helped them to put away the washed utensils.

While sitting on the kitchen steps facing the garden and sipping their lemon juice, Arvind piped up, “This was fun, what can we make next?”

“What about a salad for lunch?” called out their grandmother.

“Salads are so boring,” mumbled Aarti.

But their aunt got them interested in it anyway and soon they were cutting and chopping for a salad.

Soon, Arvind was thinking of teatime. “Finish your lunch and relax for some time,” said their aunt “and then we will make a biscuit cake.”It was fun making the biscuit cake but Aarti wanted more. She asked, “What can we make for dinner?”

“Soup,” said mom as she smiled. “I'd like my kids to make me a bowl of spinach soup.”

“Spinach and cream soup it is,” laughed Lakshmi chitti.

“Each day we can learn something new, can't we? Like today?” asked Aarti.

“Maybe not everyday but certainly every other day,” smiled their mother, “especially when I see how neat and clean you leave the kitchen after you finish, sometimes even neater that what it was before.”

Cool lime juice

Four limes, 1/3 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of roasted and crushed cumin powder and crushed ice.

They cut the limes and squeezed the juice into a jug. Added the sugar that had been dissolved in lukewarm water. Then they added the salt, cumin powder and the crushed ice. Finally they served it in tall glasses with a sprig of mint.

Colours of summer

The kids chose the vegetables — two tomatoes, two onions, two cucumbers, one capsicum, a cup of boiled and diced potato, half a cup of steamed corn, raisins and walnuts, salt, sugar and pepper to taste, three tablespoons of salad and half a lime.

They cut the tomatoes, onions, capsicum and cucumber into tiny cubes.

Lakshmi chitti said, “Food should not only be tasty but should also be presented in an appetising way. This can be done to a great advantage when making a salad.” For instance in this salad you have red, pink, green and white. The potatoes give a creamy effect.

They mixed the salt, sugar, pepper and the oil with the vegetables and drizzled lime juice on it. They arranged the diced vegetables in a large oval plate. They garnished it with the nuts, corn and raisins and left it in the fridge till it was time to be served at lunch.

Tea time snack

A packet of Marie biscuits, half a cup of butter, four tablespoons of cocoa powder, half a cup of powdered sugar and two cups of milk. They mixed the butter, sugar and two tablespoons of cocoa powder with a fork.

After this they mixed the rest of the cocoa with the milk, dipped each biscuit into the mixture and layered the bottom of a flat pan. Then they covered this layer with the butter mixture, and added another layer of the biscuits, ending with a layer of the butter mixture on top. They left it in the fridge for tea, which was to be three hours later.

Healthy green

They took four bunches of spinach , half a cup of cream, 10 flakes of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

They cleaned and washed the spinach and put it in a pan with the peeled garlic. They cooked it on a low flame till the leaves were soft. They drained off the excess water and blended it. Finally, they added the cream.