As my children grow older, I find more and more reasons to involve them in the activities of the kitchen. The obvious reasons are that by doing so you are teaching them life skills which they will have for their entire lives; you are actually teaching nutrition as well as teaching cooking, and many studies have shown that children who help prepare food are more likely to be adventurous eaters. And these are good and valuable reasons. The added perk is that by teaching your children to cook, you can wake up on a Saturday morning when your husband has to be at work and your ten year old daughter can make pancakes for breakfast without any assistance what so ever, freeing you up to get small people dressed. I must add that this was a first for P. on Saturday morning. While she had helped A. make pancakes before, she had never done it solo. A. was at a sleepover, so P. was on her own. She did a great job.
But it is the unexpected reason that I found myself focusing on today and that is the companionship aspect. B. and I spent nearly all Saturday afternoon in the kitchen together. We made 9 pints orange-pineapple marmalade, plus he made bread and I made pizza dough. B. is as competent as any adult in the kitchen and is a huge help. If I am completely honest, he has a great sense of what tastes good and is often better at adding seasonings than I am. He is a joy to cook with. B. was the real motivating force behind the marmalade because he really loves it and I never think to buy it. Peeling and pithing the oranges was a bit labor-intensive, but it went much faster with two. The recipe didn't call for pectin, but I would probably add it if I do it again because the marmalade seemed a bit runny... I hope it thickens up after it cools.
As I think about it, B. has been my main canning helper for the past year and he could probably do it all himself at this point. In fact, I realized that it had been a good long while since I had to do any canning all by myself and wondered if I could plan all canning around the times that B. is home for... well, forever.
So, cook with your children... create memories with them... develop their skills... enjoy their company. You won't regret it.