Cornmeal Flipjacks ~ Food History Activity with Kids


Cornmeal Flipjack topped with red lentils, veggies and chicken

Studying indigenous people for today’s holiday? This activity is a great way to stimulate minds and senses as well as the palate!

You will need:

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

Let your kids mix the dough by hand while you get the pan ready for cooking. Talk to them about corn and cornmeal~what was once known by settlers as Indian Meal. Tell them why corn was so important to the diet of our indigenous people~and later to settlers as well. It could be grown, dried, ground and then transported easily from one location to another.

Explain how growing and grinding was hard work done by hand without machinery or mills. Ask them to imagine what their lives would be like if they were responsible for growing and gathering all of their food and all of their cooking took place over an open fire. How would that limit what they ate and what type vessels would they cook food in and eat from?

Next show them how to get a portion of the mixture, roll it into a ball, then flatten it with their hands and pass it back and forth between hands. Get them to hypothesize where the name “flipjack” came from as they listen to the sound it makes on their hands.

Let them watch as you cook the patties in a lightly oiled skillet or grill pan, just 1-2 minutes each side until lightly browned. Ask them what might be used in place of a skillet? Flat rocks heated by the fire might work nicely.

When cool, let them taste and have them describe what they think about the flavor and texture of the flipjack. Does it need sugar? What might they sweeten the flipjack with if they didn’t have sugar? Fruit or berries? What kinds of fruit or berries might our indigenous people have access to during different times of the year? What other ingredients might be added? Hint: I flavored mine with roasted pumpkin, apple cider and dried sage.

Then have kids come up with modern toppings for their flipjacks! Syrup, fresh fruit and nut butters for those with a sweet tooth. Or go the savory route and top with veggies, meat and cheeses, like a pizza.

This recipe yields 12-14 flipjacks. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for one month. If you prefer them to have a fluffier texture, you could add 1 teaspoon baking powder to the mix.