Mar 28, 2014

Cooking Lessons

Let's face it, my kids are getting older.  They're growing up fast (too fast).  They'll be leaving the nest soon to fly off on their own. 
One of the things I'd like my children to leave home with is a knowledge and the ability to be able to cook.  This is kind of important because
You have to eat to live!
Yes, they could just eat out, but eating out is not only expensive, it's also unhealthy - all that saturated fat and huge portion sizes. . .yada yada yada.  
I want my kids to have the cooking skills and food knowledge to be able to feed their future family a well balanced meal, save money, and most importantly, enjoy doing it!
 I started out when my kids were young.
The first thing I did, was let them help me cook.  Yes this takes time and patience - lots and lots of patience.
Even really young kids can help.  I started out by letting them add ingredients. 
Then as they get a little older and stronger I let them stir, and then crack the eggs.
When they learn to read, I'll have them read the recipe out loud to me as we cook. This helps them learn how to read a recipe and measure the ingredients correctly.
When they are mature enough, they learn how to use the stove and oven and proper stove top/oven safety.
 Then they graduate into making a recipe all by themselves.  Of course I'm standing by to help where and if needed.
Eventually they learn several recipes they can make themselves.
Most of my kids know how to bake, after all, dessert is the most important part of the meal. They each have their own signature dessert they are "famous" for in our house.

Now that they're getting older (my oldest will graduate high school next year - help!), I want to make sure they know how to cook a healthy complete meal (not just dessert).  To do this, I had each of my kids choose 4 of their favorite things to eat for dinner.  I plugged them into my monthly meal schedule.  On the night we eat one of their favorite meals, they help me prepare and cook it.  (NOTE: 4 was a little ambitious, next month I will probably have them make a list of their favorites and then schedule in only two per child per month).  
 Here I am with #3.  We're making Chicken Cordon Bleu.  
With each meal I'm not only able to teach them how to make that dish, but also other cooking skills they will be able to use again and again.
For instance, with this meal, #3 learned all about making a roux for the sauce, how to properly handle raw chicken, how to make bread crumbs, and how to steam a vegetable, just to name a few.
The thing I love the most is that I get to spend one on one time with each of my kids- talking and laughing together while we cook.
It also doesn't hurt that they're also in charge of doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.