Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teaching my kids to cook

When I was a kid, my mum did all the cooking. She wasn't very good at it! She has bad asthma and sinus problems and therefore has little sense of smell or taste. But she cooked, and we ate the results because we had no other choice. I don't recall her ever trying to teach me or my brother anything about cooking (or housework).

As a result, when I moved out at the age of 24 I didn't know how to cook anything (or use a washing machine). I gradually taught myself, from scratch. I lived alone for quite a while, buying miniscule amounts of various things and perfecting my recipes. I had lots of disasters along the way, of course, but eventually I was pretty happy with my cooking skills. There weren't many vegetables involved, and quite a few things were out of jars and packets, but I had some tasty dinners. I've evolved a bit since then and make a lot more things from scratch. Still not enough vegetables, I don't know many ways of cooking them to make them taste good.

Now I have two children at an age when they should be handle most things in the kitchen - I no longer have the excuse of being terrified of them using knives and hot plates. Jasmine is ten, nearly eleven, and my son Aiden is eight. Old enough to be careful. But they know almost nothing about cooking. They mix cakes and recently Jasmine has helped make burger patties, but that is about it.

I don't want them to grow up, as I did, having no experience in the kitchen. It happened this way because when they were littler I used the TV/computer as a babysitter to keep them out from under my feet while I was cooking dinner. They had restricted "screen time" and that seemed a good time for them to have it - an hour when I was cooking. But it meant that they were always kept away from the kitchen.

Recently I decided this needed to change. So every Saturday that we are home (most of them!) the kids are going to help in the kitchen. They can have their screen time after dinner instead. Sometimes I will cook with them, but often it will be my night off from the kitchen and my husband Tim will do it - he is home too late during the week to help other nights. They will also help prepare Sunday lunch if we do anything more elaborate than toasted cheese - I suppose even then.

Fifty dinners and fifty lunches a year - that is a thousand meals they will help prepare (and eventually prepare alone) in the next ten years. A good introduction to cooking.

I'm going to post recipes and photos on this blog to keep a record of what they have learned.

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