Monday, January 24, 2011

Cooking with children

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.


Jamey... said...

My oldest son is only 4, but he loves to help in the kitchen as well. He's still at the stage where he is more of a hindrance than a help, but I can see that dynamic shifting. He can shape a pretty good crescent roll these days! :)

LawMommy said...

I couldn't agree more.

(Although I must confess that your mention of marmalade has not made me hungry at all (most of your cooking posts make my mouth water) - which of course has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with my childhood hatred of marmalade. (I had this Irish stepmother, who put marmalade on my peanut sandwiches EVERY TIME she made them, and to this day the idea of marmalade makes me shudder a bit.)

thecurryseven said...

I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of marmalade myself. But adding the pineapple makes it a lot sweeter and I'm not minding this.


TJC said...

I'll defend marmalade! Love it. Although, I am in the minority in my house.

My friend Josh's mom used to make (probably still does) candied orange and grapefruit rind dipped in chocolate. Man, were those good.

Sarah said...

Cooking with kids is so fun! My oldest loves to cook and does a great job. I need to work with my girls more. Right now they're only interested if we're making a dessert.
Visiting from the Hip Homeschool Hop.

Jennifer said...

What fun it is to cook with my children, too. It sounds like you got a lot accomplished today. I'm visiting from the Hip Homeschool Hop and now following your blog.

Anonymous said...

We have included our kids in many cooking ventures. We have our seasonal traditions, such as canning, applesauce making, Christmas baking. Those times started out as fun things to do together and now we can't do without them.
The one joy in having your children cook with you is all they learn. We have the joy of having my parents live with us. Every Sunday AM before church "Poppy" cooks pancakes and my second daughter always helps. I have watched him teach her how to make pancakes. He has his own recipe, you know:) He has patiently taught her how to flip pancakes, only loosing a few. Those are precious times. God gave us a true gift in food and the fellowship that comes from it.
Kim Crawford

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