Wet Wet Wet at Leeds First Direct Arena Review- March 4th 2016.

My SmartCookieSam blog is all about my love of baking and cooking but every now and again I love to write about  something else I love or is a big part of my life.  Although it was more than three weeks ago now as I type, I’m still on a high and buzzing from that Friday night in Leeds.

What caused me to get all hyped up and excited?  Well, those of you who know me really well know that I have been a huge fan of the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet ever since their first single “Wishing I Was Lucky” was released back in April 1987.  Their fabulous debut album “Popped In Souled Out” was played constantly at home, on my Walkman on long train journeys  and  even on the car stereo going on a family holiday to France. That tape wore out and got replaced by a CD eventually. Scary to think that at the time I was nearly 15. Where have the last 30 years gone?

 

Wet Wet Wet on stage at Leeds First Direct Arena. I only managed to. take
  

A very blurred photo of Marti Pellow before my. phone camera decided it was full!

Ever since then I have grown up into a forty-something wife and mum of two teens with a very busy life but Wet Wet Wet and their music have always been there throughout that time.   Of course I listen to different music. I play music or have the radio on at home and  in my car,  but it’s always Wet Wet Wet I go back to.  So when the Wets announced a new tour for February and March 2016, there was absolutely nothing  that would stop me from going to see my favourite band play in Leeds and also in Newcastle. I have seen the band several times before as well as seeing bass player Graeme Clark play solo shows so we all knew we were in for a treat. 

This time the band were celebrating a special anniversary. It was the 20th Anniversary  of  the release of “Picture This”, their multi million selling album. I just couldn’t believe Picture This was 20 years old, I remember the day I bought it. I was a newly qualified teacher  and there were several of us on the school staff who had the CD.  I recall playing “Picture This” at full blast in the school corridor outside my classroom so everyone could hear it on our school INSET day. We turned it off when the head came along though as she would have thought we weren’t doing any work, we were meant to be in our classrooms getting them ready for the summer term!  “Picture This” and it’s follow up album “Ten” then became my daughter’s womb music as well as my music of choice I took into hospital for her birth. I used to play the CDs to her and I’m sure that is why my daughter is relaxed and laid back. She went off to sleep with the sounds of “Somewhere Somehow” playing in the background if she was ever downstairs lying in her pram.

Anyway enough of my waffle, this is meant to be a review of the Leeds show that Wet Wet Wet played in March 2016 at the First Direct Arena. Over the past couple of years I’ve made friends with some lovely people who I have met and kept in touch with at Wet Wet Wet gigs. We now go together to the gigs and affectionately call it our #wetsroadtrip as I usually am the one doing the driving. So it was on an extremely cold and wet wet wet day we were stood outside Leeds Arena. The weather was bitterly cold and I began to wish I had worn more layers than just my new grey and pink “I love Wet Wet Wet” t-shirt underneath my coat.

Getting “Wet Wet Wet” waiting outside Leeds Arena. The weather lived up to the band’s name!  Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

Once in the arena we headed off to the merchandise stand. Lots of lovely treats mainly aimed at my age group and gender including some very bright purple pyjamas which I just HAD to have!  Later on when I put them on at home, my husband and kids laughed their heads off at them!

There were two support acts who came on before the Wets. We were very impressed with Ben McKelvey  and his band but I personally wasn’t so much with Markus Feehily. I wasn’t really a Westlife fan back in the day and as he mainly sang ballads I felt that the songs needed to be a bit more upbeat to get the party started. Not that we needed to get the party started knowing what was to come! No one was stood up clapping and dancing  at Leeds, which wasn’t the case for Blue who were the Wets’ support band on their last arena tour in 2013. Perhaps I am being unfair, though and just need to listen to his music again.

Suddenly the long wait was over and out came Wet Wet Wet to lots of screaming and cheering. They opened the show with one of their upbeat popular numbers East Of The River, followed by their classic hits Wishing I Was Lucky and Sweet Surrender. A memorable highlight was of Marti Pellow sitting down near the front of the stage to sing a medley of Goodnight Girl, Angeleyes, Temptation and With A Little Help From My Friends.  The audience loved joining in parts of the songs, we could have carried on all night singing along but a funny moment came when we were reminded of a certain four letter word in Temptation! Us Leeds folk were happy to scream the aforementioned word out but I’m glad my mum wasn’t stood next to me! She used to go mad if me or my brother swore when we were growing up!  Marti continued to move around the stage while flashing that trademark smile of his proving that he still has enormous stage presence.

Marti Pellow – photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

 Being “The Big Picture Tour” we were treated to other favourite tracks from Picture This,  my personal all time  favourite “Somewhere, Somehow” as well as the  hit singles “Julia Says” and “Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now”, the haunting “Morning” and “She’s All On My Mind” which was accompanied by a big screen back drop of photos/ selfies that Wets fans were invited to post on Twitter. I got a shock  when I saw myself on the screen and screamed!

One of my #wetsfans tweets appeared on the big screen behind the band as they played “She’s All On My Mind”.  Here I am with my group of friends who I lovingly call my “Wettie mates”!

   We also got to hear a brand new song called Love Wars, which had been recorded last summer in the South of France. It was very catchy and everyone was soon clapping and moving along in time to the music.  Lots of us are really looking forward to seeing it released along with some other material in the future!

Of course it isn’t just Marti who is Wet Wet Wet, the rest of the band are what makes the Wets the special band that they are, they slot together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Tommy,  Neil and Graeme each bring their unique personal talent to the band.  I also  loved the acoustic set which Marti, Graeme Clark and Graeme Duffin performed.  First they played a beautiful rendition of Roll ‘Um Easy which came with a hilarious anecdote about Graeme and Marti being filmed in a rowing boat on Loch Lomond for a documentary and how they felt rough as they had hangovers! I’ve seen this documentary and I couldn’t tell they looked rough,  I was just amazed how they managed to get in a boat in the middle of a loch without falling in, let alone singing and playing a guitar! This was followed by the wonderful Gypsy Girl from the Picture This album with audience la-la-ing along in the right places and finished off with John Martyn’s “May You Never”, a beautiful song which I haven’t heard the Wets sing for a while.

  We were then back to the upbeat numbers.  Sweet Little Mystery had everyone  up and dancing as well as singing along with I Can Give You Everything from the Popped In Souled Out album.  I danced and sang my way through the whole show.  Probably  singing out of tune and looking like a complete idiot but I was enjoying myself  Along with all my friends around me, we didn’t want the show to end because it was so brilliant.

Then to an encore of Lip Service which was a perfect song to end on a high followed by the Wets’ biggest hit, Love Is All Around.  They really proved that love indeed was all around, There is still much love for the band nearly 30 years after their first record was released and hopefully in many more years to come.

Wet Wet Wet’s brass section who join them on tour- these guys are amazing.  Leo on the saxophone, Neil Sidwell on the trombone and Matt on the trumpet.   Not to mention the fantastic Graeme Duffin here seen playing his double headed guitar.  Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

All good things have to come to an end as they say and we left the concert on a high.  We didn’t want to go home straightaway so we nipped over the road for a drink.  I was still buzzing and couldn’t wait for the following Friday to do it all again at Newcastle! What a fantastic show which showed that Wet Wet Wet have still got what it takes after 30 years.

Many thanks to my friend Dot who very kindly let me use some of of her photos for the review. She always takes beautiful pictures, mine always look blurred and they could be of anyone, never mind Wet Wet Wet!

Taking a bow at the end. Sadly neither of us managed to find a picture with Tommy, the drummer on, what with where we were stood and with my phone camera being useless! Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.
 

Local Yorkshire Producers Appearing At The Good Food Show- Spring 2016.

More exciting information has been released about the show which takes place in April 2016.

 
The BBC Good Food Show Spring is returning to the Harrogate International Centre once again from 8 – 10 April for it’s third year running.

There will be an array of famous faces and hundreds of exhibitors. Some of the nations’ favourite celebrity chefs including Paul Hollywood, Michel Roux Jr., The Hairy Bikers and Tom Kerridge will be cooking live in the beautiful adjoining Royal Hall which will be transformed into the SuperTheatre for the event.

Yorkshire will be showcasing its own local food larder, as some of the best local food producers from the area will be exhibiting at the Show.

Local Yorkshire producers can be found throughout Show, as well as in the speciality food areas including; The Producers Village, The BBC Good Food Show Champions area, The Producers Bursary Award Winners and The Drinks Cabinet. The Show is the perfect place for thousands of visitors to meet local exhibitors who pride themselves on the quality and provenance of their produce, with the chance to sample and buy their wares.

Here is just a small selection of some of the Yorkshire exhibitors I remember from previous years and whose products I have enjoyed buying on a regular basis over the last couple of years.

Gordon Rhodes

 Gordon Rhodes was the name of a traveller who loved exploring the globe. It is now the name of a local Yorkshire company which produces a mouthwatering range of gourmet cooking sauces, spice rubs,  gluten free stuffings and bread sauce.  I first discovered these wonderful products at the very first Spring Good Food Show back in April 2014 and haven’t got enough of them ever since.  The range of gourmet cooking sauces are a life saver for me because I am a teacher.  If I have a busy day and know that I’m going to be late in from work, I pop my trusty slow cooker on with meat, veg and a Gordon Rhodes sauce and I know I’ll have a delicious, mouthwatering dinner to come back to that night.  From Chicken Curry to Chilli and my family’s favourite the Pulled Pork sauce there is something that everyone will enjoy.  In the summer the spice rubs are a huge favourite on top of chicken breasts with new potatoes and salad.

 Mason’s Small batch, handcrafted Gin.

Mason’s  Yorkshire Gin is my absolute favourite drink of all time.  I first discovered it two years ago when having a meal in a local pub and enjoyed its unique flavour so much. I’m hoping to stock up when I visit the show as both my husband and I are running low! Mason’s Gin, based in Bedale is distilled on a small and traditional scale using the London Dry Gin method. It is distilled in small batches of 200 litres and each bottle has its own hand written batch and bottle number. Mason’s use Harrogate Spring Water as part of their distillation process and even grow their own juniper bushes for their gin.  Along with their original gin they now produce flavoured gins reminiscent of Yorkshire, such as Yorkshire Tea and Lavender.  They have also recently produced a vodka range which I am looking forward to trying.

Mercers Of Yorkshire

Paul and Lizzie Mercer produce the most delicious range of jams/ conserves, marmalades, curds, dessert sauces and savoury chutneys and sauces.  I am so pleased that the Mercers are coming back to the Spring Good Food Show this year as their lemon curd is the nicest I have ever tasted. Not only is it perfect on toast but it works beautifully as a filling in a lemon cake.  My family also love the marmalade and Mercer’s Caramel Sauce was ideal for adding to some Salted Caramel Brownies.  If you don’t have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of savoury options.  I bought a delicious jar of Caramelised Onion Chutney which my husband enjoyed with sausages and with some pork pie.

Heck Sausages.

I’ve loved buying Heck Sausages since I  discovered them at the first Spring Good Food Show back in 2014.  Heck make their sausages in small batches which brings out the better flavour and with the finest ingredients.  Their sausages come in different varieties with a flavour combination to suit all members of the family.  More recent additions to their product range include their burgers and meatballs.

Shepherd’s Purse Cheese.

The award-winning Shepherd’s Purse cheeses are another favourite of mine. Started up in the late 1980’s the company still makes their cheeses by hand on a small scale.  I adore the Yorkshire Blue Cheese on crackers and prefer it to French blue cheeses, such as Roquefort or even the  more well known Stilton! I will be looking forward to tasting and sampling other varieties when I get to the show this year.

The Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil Company

Finally, I would like to sing the praises of another local company which I discovered when my aunt and uncle made up a Christmas hamper about three years ago. It contained

The Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil Company products. The hamper contained a bottle of their original rapeseed oil, some garlic mayonnaise and a very delicious salad dressing. The bottles didn’t last long and it was fantastic to see the company exhibiting at the show the very next year.  They started producing their cold pressed oil back in 2008 at local farmers markets and their rapeseed is grown on their farm on the edge of the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds.  The Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil company  now produce a wide range of flavoured oils, dressings and continue to make their lovely mayonnaise.  I will be featuring more about  Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in a future blog post, so watch this space!

I’m proud to be part of the BBC Good Food Show Blogger Community, so if you’d like to book tickets please see the 20% discount code and link below.

 Tickets for the Spring Show in April can be ordered through this link
https://www.theticketfactory.com/gfsh/online/

Order using code BL20 before 10/04/2016 and you will get 20% discount *see t&cs below.

*20% off Adult/Over 65s tickets only. Not valid on VIP or with any other offer. Ends 10/04/16. Standard Supertheatre seat included with Super tickets, subject to availability, Gold seat upgrade £3. Offer valid on Value tickets where available. Details correct at time of print. £1.50 fulfilment fee per advance order. Good Food® Good Food Logo © BBC Worldwide. Organised and presented by River Street Events.

Please note:  All producers’ images courtesy of Google Images. I am writing this post to highlight some of my own tried and tested favourites of local producers. I am not being paid for this post.

Cooking With Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil (BBC Good Food Show, Harrogate 2016).

I was excited to hear that Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil are going to be at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate next month. I first tried their oil and mayonnaise after my aunt and uncle had included them in a homemade Christmas hamper a couple of years ago.  They had been up to York for the weekend and must have bought them then but once the hamper was used up I wanted to restock!  Imagine my delight when I saw that Yorkshire Oil were at the first Good Food Show in Harrogate in 2014 and were also there for the second time in last year, Ever since then I have bought their oils in preference to others.  My husband who likes to cook on the weekends is also a massive fan, especially of the chilli flavoured Rapeseed Oil!  Luckily my local farm shop Lister’s Farm Shop in Boroughbridge stocks it. We love the fact that the oil is produced and grown in Yorkshire, which is an added bonus.

  

So my excitement increased tenfold when a book full of mouthwatering recipes appeared in the post.  I was so excited to start baking or creating my own recipes.  I didn’t get a bottle of oil with my recipe book like other bloggers had but this didn’t matter to me, I already had some in the cupboard!

I used the Original Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil in my cooking as it gives a delicious flavour and isn’t too overpowering.  The other favourites apart from the Chilli flavour which I can wholeheartedly recommend are the Ginger and the Black Pepper flavours.  I use the Ginger one whenever I make stir fries and the Black Pepper one works extremely well in all aspects of savoury cooking.  The chilli one is quite powerful though, so I have to be careful not to add any extra heat to the dish.  My family are still laughing about when we had chicken fajitas where I fried the chicken and the vegetables in the chilli rapeseed oil AND added spice to it! My son keeps reminding me of it every time I make fajitas!

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil also make a delicious Garlic Mayonnaise which never lasts long in our house.  It gets used with fishcakes, with an ordinary salad or we use it like a traditional Mediterranean Aoili with raw vegetables and chunks of French bread. It also makes an amazing alternative to Hollandaise Sauce (which I find far too fiddly to make) on Eggs Benedict.

My new recipe book from The Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil Company.

The recipe book itself is fantastic.  It is a high quality book with over 164 pages crammed with more than 100 recipes.  There is something to suit all occasions and tastebuds, whether savoury or sweet.  Being a baking girl I was intrigued to see how Rapeseed Oil would work in a sweet recipe but then again you use sunflower oil in carrot cakes and in muffins.  I also wanted to see how it would work in pastry in place of other fats. Not only that but I was looking forward to creating some delicious family meals out of the book.

My first recipe to test out was the Rich Roasted Tomato Sauce.  I wanted a handy pasta sauce that I could make and leave in the freezer for if I had a busy day at work. Instead of slow roasting the tomatoes, I put all the ingredients into my slow cooker and let that work its magic instead. The recipe called for 1kg of tomatoes. I only had about 700g so I added in a tin of chopped tomatoes, with garlic, basil, salt and pepper and not forgetting the rapeseed oil. I used the plain one here but I bet the chilli one would work well here!

 

The ingredients included. some Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.
  

Lots of garlic went into the tomato pasfa sauce.
  
The romatoes had been slowly simmering away in my slow cooker all day.
  
Being blitzed into a puree to make a tomato passta sauce.
 

The sauce simmered away in my slow cooker all day on a very low heat. I then got my stick blender out and blitzed it into a smooth sauce. The result was a little bit runny and came out more like a soup.  Once it had cooled down I put it into a plastic box and it went into my freezer.  I’m hoping to test it out one night next week.

The second recipe I tested out was the Sticky Figgy Flapjacks.  I don’t like figs and neither does anyone in my family. Instead I substituted raisins for the figs.  The recipe was simple enough to make: rapeseed oil in place of butter, sugar and golden syrup melted together in a pan on the stove and then you add in the porridge oats and the raisins. They were very easy to cook and my family devoured them.

 

My variation on the Sticky Figgy Flapjacks which dont have figs in them!
 

Other recipes I’m looking forward to trying out are the Red Onion and Yorkshire Blue Tart (which is a great excuse to try out rapeseed oil in pastry and to get in some more Shepherd’s Purse Yorkshire Blue Cheese!) My kids have asked if I can bake the Victoria Sponge and the Foccacia, not to mention the Cheesy Potato Cakes! I’m going to be very busy then!

I was given the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil Cook Book by BBC Good Food Show as I’m part of their Blogger Community for their Spring Show at Harrogate International Conference Centre in April 2016. 
For more information go to the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil website where you’ll find a fantastic selection of recipes, more details about the products and more about the company itself!

Happy Cooking!

Love Sam xx

 Tickets for the Spring Show in April can be ordered through this link

https://www.theticketfactory.com/gfsh/online/

Order using code BL20 before 10/04/2016 and you will get 20% discount *see t&cs below.

*20% off Adult/Over 65s tickets only. Not valid on VIP or with any other offer. Ends 10/04/16. Standard Supertheatre seat included with Super tickets, subject to availability, Gold seat upgrade £3. Offer valid on Value tickets where available. Details correct at time of print. £1.50 fulfilment fee per advance order. Good Food® Good Food Logo © BBC Worldwide. Organised and presented by River Street Events.

BBC Spring Good Food Show Harrogate April 2016.

I was so excited to find out I have been chosen to be a part of the BBC Good Food Show Blogging Community.

I’ll be bringing you news and information about the hugely popular BBC Good Food Show Spring which returns to Harrogate this April for it’s third consecutive year!

The BBC Good Food Show Spring is at the HIC, Harrogate from Friday  8th to Sunday 10th April.

The Show is packed with fantastic shopping and tempting tastes from dozens of regional and artisan producers, as well as entertainment from the nation’s favourite chefs.  These include the one and only Paul Hollywood,  the lovely Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Junior and my favourites, The Hairy Bikers!

Last year I enjoyed the Good Food Show enormously: I tried lots of delicious samples, ate too much cake, thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in their live kitchen show and got to meet them later and have my prized cook books signed!

 Do you fancy coming to one of the BBC Good Food Shows?  If so, you can use the link below to book your tickets!

Use the code   BL20   to get 20% off tickets?*

*  Terms and Conditions   20% off Adult/Over 65s tickets only. Not valid on VIP or with any other offer. Ends 10/14/16. Standard Supertheatre seat included with Super tickets, subject to availability, Gold seat upgrade £3. Offer valid on Value tickets where available. Details correct at time of print. £1.50 fulfilment fee per advance order. Good Food®Good Food Logo © BBC Worldwide. Organised and presented by River Street Events.

I’ll be bringing you more updates via my blog as they come in, so please do take a look!

Love Sam xx

image

Colourful Chinese Egg Fried Rice #LittleKitchen

To make a change from my usual baking and sweet recipes which I create, it has been a welcome change to bring you something completely different. This is a recipe I have used for nearly 15 years with my own two children and also one that has been made at an After School cookery club that I used to run.

When Wren Kitchens contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would like to be involved in their #LittleKitchen campaign, I was really excited. Although I’m really busy at the moment in my teaching career and with home commitments, I love to take part in schemes which are very close to my heart.

The #LittleKitchen campaign has been created to encourage children to cook by being involved in food preparation and cooking. Wren Kitchen’s philosophy is something I heavily relate to: the kitchen is the heart of the home and where the family whatever their ages are able to come together. They talk, prepare food and have fun while they’re doing it.  At the same time you spend precious family time together as well as creating healthy and delicious food.  Not only that but by being involved in the food preparation process, children have fun, a sense of responsiblity and also are more likely to eat something that they’ve made themselves.

 It is always a challenge to find meals which tick all the boxes.  Is it delicious? Does is contain portions of fruit and veg which will count towards your 5 a day? Will the kids actually like it? I think this recipe has proved time and time again that it does fulfill that need.

My Chinese Egg Fried Rice recipe is one that children of all ages can help to create and it is a valuable recipe to add to the repertoire. I am convinced that being able to cook simple, yet nutritious, but fun meals is a valuable life skill as everyone has to eat. My own daughter is off to uni this autumn and she will be able to cook the Egg Fried Rice for herself and her friends.  The beauty in this recipe is that you can used whatever leftover veg you have left over, so long as they are chopped up small.  It can also have frozen peas and sweetcorn in it so it fills out the dish. All the ingredients are cheap so it is a useful budget dinner.

CHINESE EGG FRIED RICE

You need:

225g dry weight long grain or basmati rice

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped finely.

1 pepper, deseeded and chopped

Approx 75g frozen peas

2 medium eggs, beaten

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

If you fancy substiuting any of the vegetables, feel free.  I sometimes use 3 or 4 spring onions in the rice instead of the ordinary onions. I used a yellow pepper here but the colour doesn’t matter. Just use whatever you have at hand.

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All you need for you and your children to make this delicious egg fried rice.
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Step 1: Cook the rice following the instructions on the packet.
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After about 5 minutes cooking time, add the diced carrots to the boiling pan of rice.  About 5 minutes after that add your frozen peas or maybe if you fancy it, some sweetcorn.
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In a frying pan or a wok, heat one tablespoonful of oil, then soften the onions and peppers for five minutes or so while the rice is still cooking.
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Crack two eggs into a small bowl and beat them up.
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Set the softened onions and peppers aside on a small plate and heat up the remaining two tablespoonfuls of rapeseed oil.
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Pour the beaten eggs into the heated frying pan or wok. Fry in the oil for a minute.
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Flip over the mini omelette and cook for another minute. As this picture shows I’m rubbish at making omelettes.
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Chop the omelette up into tiny, bite size pieces.
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Mix the drained rice mixture with the softened onions, peppers and the chopped egg as well as some soy sauce.
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Serve in a massive bowl and let everyone help themselves. My family love this fried rice with left over chicken pieces which is great for a leftover Sunday roast dish.

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN:

Even very young children can take part in making this dish.  My own two children used to help by using a child friendly knife to cut and prepare easy to cut vegetables like peppers and to help weigh out ingredients.  I included them in every step of the process even though they kept away from the hob when I was frying the vegetables and boiling the rice.  When the dish was put on the table I let them serve themselves.

As children get older they are more able to cope with cutting more difficult vegetables, such as onions and will be able to peel the carrots.  You could involve them by adding the vegetables and rice to the pans at the right time and they could stir the contents of the pan.  They could also make the omelette with help.  Teenagers will easily able to cook the Egg Fried Rice without supervision. Though my children will always leave me their mess to clean up afterwards!

Happy Cooking.

Love Sam xx