As one of the original chefs for Glutenfreeda, most of my recipe development was done at home and tested on my family. My kids have grown up in a household where there was always something happening in the kitchen; they never, or at least very rarely, got to eat the same thing twice; and food was always photographed before it was eaten! As a result of this profession, my kids were always in the kitchen with me wanting to help. The end result? They are now both great cooks! Engaging them in the kitchen was a great learning experience for them and it was also unforgettable and invaluable time I got to spend with my kids one on one.
Looking back it amazes me to see what children are really capable of. When my son was 9, he was very competent in the kitchen. He could do tasks like grate cheese, prep vegetables (with my supervision, of course), crack eggs, beat egg whites, peel potatoes or carrots, and many other helpful things in the kitchen. My daughter, at age 6, could do many of the same tasks (although I tended to avoid giving her jobs that involved knives!). She became my appointed garlic peeler, vegetable washer and dish washer! Each was quite capable of making scrambled eggs, sauteing vegetables, mashing potatoes, mixing batters, basting meats, stirring risotto, and much, much more.
By involving them in the kitchen, they have not only developed some amazing culinary skills but they are also much more interested in the results. My son and daughter both have incredible palates and will eat just about anything. They love to try different foods and experiment with new vegetables, different types of fish and a multitude of flavor combinations. In addition they are now very well aware of what constitutes "healthy" foods - what organic means, where vegetables come from, and so forth.
Even if cooking is not your first love,
there are many things you can do with your children in the
kitchen. Here is a list of things you can have your child
help you with while you cook:
- Wash vegetables
- Peel vegetables
- Depending on age, chop vegetables
- Mash potatoes
- Stir things on the stove (with supervision)
- Stir batters
- Whisk eggs
- Crack eggs
- Measure out ingredients
- Stir sauces
- Peel garlic or onions
- Snap beans
- Tear lettuce for salads
- Add ingredients to a bowl, pot or saucepan
- Have them taste things and give you their
opinion on what it needs (i.e. Salt, sugar, pepper or herbs??)
- Prepare grocery lists
- Read recipes out loud to you
- Wash dishes
Always supervise your children in the kitchen. I always make
sure they know that the kitchen is not a play place and that
there are many dangerous things in the kitchen (boiling water,
knives, etc.). Always make sure that you turn pan handles
in so they are not overhanging on the stove - this way you
can avoid them bumping into a pan of hot contents or pulling
it on top of them. And make sure you have a solid stool that
is the right height for them - they need to see what they
are doing and be at the right height to avoid accidents.
By cooking with your children you will
help them with the following:
- Help develop fine motor skills
- Help them with math skills (great opportunity
to work on fractions and ordering!) and not to mention reading
and writing (have them read the recipes for you - or write
down your grocery list)
- Develop basic, life-long culinary skills
- Educate them about what is good for them
- how to eat "healthy"
- Expose them to new foods and develop
- And most importantly present an opportunity
to spend quality time with you, their parent!
Have fun & enjoy!