Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beyond the Academics: Cooking

I really didn't want to talk about cooking today. To me, there are so many more interesting things to pass on to my children. But my sister and I were recently discussing my 15 year old nephew. It's hit us lately how few years he has left at home before he goes to college. She was listing all the things she knows he can cook. It really wasn't that bad of a list. He won't starve to death at college. As long as he has access to a microwave! :)

Sewing on a button, cooking, balancing a checkbook...some things are just survival skills. I want to pass more than just survival skills to my daughters, mind you...but first things first. And I won't bore you with stories of my lack of cooking skills at the age of 18 or even at the age of 22, when I got married. Suffice it to say, I NEED to make sure my girls can cook better than that!

Actually, Little Bit (4 years old) made pizza last night for supper. I cut the crust package open for her and she put on the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni, and I put it in the oven. I wasn't even in the kitchen while she made it. I just kept swinging through to make suggestions. It gave me a taste of how wonderful it will be to have daughters who can cook in a few years! (And then I promptly burned her pizza. Oops.)

My goal is to have the girls be able to handle food prep on their own when they are between 12-14 years old. We'll see how that goal plays out because I know that each kid is different. But that's what I'm working towards. Should I get sick for a few days...they should be able to make supper. And while they are high-school aged, I think they should have one day a week where they are responsible for the meal. NOT just cooking it either---but planning it, purchasing the items (or at least making a list), and cooking it. I think half the battle is planning when it comes to cooking. Actually being the chef is the other half. But if you know how to cook, but not how to make a grocery list or plan for what you will are still sorely lacking in skills wouldn't you say?

I was also thinking that knowing your way around the kitchen is important too. Towards this end, I need to make sure my kitchen is organized in a meaningful way. My girls have helped me cook enough this year that they are already learning where things are. They will need supervision for many more years, but they are getting independent with a lot of the directions I give them such as, "Get out the measuring cup" or "Now we need the sugar." It's a start.

Also, I am typing a cookbook for Sweetheart. So far, she has three recipes in it that she knows how to make: enchiladas, cornbread (from scratch), and peach cobbler. Not that those things go together. I plan to keep adding to her cookbook until she has enough to print out. I will put the pages in a 3 ring binder and add to it as we go. That way, when it is her turn to cook supper (in several years) she will have something to reference. For things I'm not sure she would know, I'm adding little pictures from the internet. When the recipe says "rectangular glass pan" I'm including a picture so she'll grab the right one from the cabinet.

I like to have one child help me with supper at a time. They like the one-on-one attention and it's easier to give out jobs. So far, they are still keen on helping (not every night). If I still worked outside the home, I don't know if I would be having them help or not. But there's always weekends, holidays, and summer! Learning to cook is a non-negotiable to me, it's just a matter of making time to teach them. And I don't think you have to set up some formal "cooking class" or make a big deal about it--I think it just happens over time of having them in the kitchen with you--and being mindful to tell them what you are doing!

And this is one skill that I KNOW both boys and girls need to have! We all gotta eat.
Oooh! Let's combine the skill from yesterday with today's skill, shall we? Check out these links!
Have fun!


  1. Good Thoughts, Brenda,
    I posted yesterday about my 12 year old son and his great cookies. And you are right, by the time they are 10-12 kids should be able to make simple recipes without any assistance! Mine love it!
    One thing I have them do before they start on the recipe is to lay out all the ingredients in a line according to the order used in that recipe. This seems to eliminate searching through cupboards and drawers and keeps them on task so they don't lose their place.
    I would love to know your daughter's peach cobbler recipe.

  2. Great thoughts! It is true they need to know how to cook. I have recently been more aware of this since my 14 yr old daughter is not much help in the cooking department. I need to include them more in the process and I love the nightly one on one idea. I have 5 kids...I can do one a night during the week! You totally inspired me! Thanks! I love your blog BTW!

  3. I do what Lisa suggested even with my own cooking. It's just easier when all the ingredients are out and measured at the outset.

    And while you're right that there are so many more interesting things to teach, there is nothing more basic and vital than knowing how to cook. It's one of the few things you know you'll have to do just about every single day, isn't it?

    And thanks for the sewing links.

  4. This is truly priceless. I wasn't allowed in the kitchen as a kid. Helping? Faggetaboutit. So, when I moved out on my own (at 18) I effectively burned boiling water. I set my kitchen on fire once too. And I was a horrible cook when I got married. This should not have been the case. My mom couldn't have cared less about teaching me anything about the kitchen. Your children are blessed to have you as a mom!!! They are going to learn so much! I plan on teaching Lala how to make her way around the kitchen too. I definitely wouldn't mind if one day, she told her friends to come over for dinner, because her mom's food rocks. And I'm sure she'll use that term too, it's used a lot here. :-)

    and thanks for the apron link!

  5. Our AHG verse for the 5 year olds is "Dont let anyone think less of you because you are young..." I know this particular verse means not being to young to be an example and share God's word, but I keep going back to other things also. They are NOT to young we just have to find things to teach them on their level and keep adding to it. We so underestimate our kids, at lease I know I do A LOT.

  6. Now, did you get that free copy of Recipes for Life? It's a great tool to use to teach about God and cook at the same time.

  7. This is given me something to think about. I have three boys & they will need a certain set of life skills when they go off on their own. I may have to take a "workshop" day soon & work on a list of things I want them to be able to do! :-) Thanks for sharing!

  8. I don't have a choice in this matter, my DD is already grumbling because I won't let her fix entire meals ON HER OWN! I hate cooking, and it's something I really hate doing with little people underfoot, so my kids have next to no kitchen experience. But I have promised Kaytie that I will let her start making sandwiches when she turns six. EEK!

  9. Kitchen skills are fun!! My seven year old can make mac and cheese and instant (Ramen type) noodles without supervision. It's such a blessing!

    And we're moving on to more difficult things like muffins and bread. They LOVE dough in their hands.

    Thanks for the reminder to keep them involved!

  10. Rachel, I set my kitchen on fire in my first apartment, too! Apparently oil will catch on fire if you let it get too hot. I wanted to make sure it was hot enough before I dropped the fries into it. It was hot enough. That was the first time I'd ever heard the words "renter's insurance."

  11. Four Penguins...I hear you. Letting her help with lunch is usually much less messy than supper. Good place to start. Also, show her how to do one sandwich, then leave the room! It can be painful to watch for some people. Then, praise, praise, praise. And serve her sandwiches to the littles. They won't mind. :)

    Rachel and Terry-you've brought up a good point--I forgot to talk about safety issues! There really are a lot of reasons to teach them to cook! :)

  12. Phew, glad I'm not the only one, Terry!! My kitchen fire was oil too! Who would've thought that putting a lid on the pan would make it worse. When my dad asked me why I didn't put flour on it, I was like "flour? what? why????"

    So, yeah, Brenda - there are a bunch of safety issues that even a child living in a dorm with a microwave needs to know. Which reminds me of one more story. JD had a soldier. who is old enough to fight a WAR...put her cell phone in the microwave to dry it out. Dis.Aster.

  13. Brenda -- lovin' your blog. Surfed over here for a look and I love your philosophy on teaching the little uns to find their way in the kitchen.

    My mother couldn't be bothered to find other things for us to do while she cooked, so we were in the kitchen with her from the time we were sprouts. My little bro started using a tiny paring knife when he was 3 or 4 -- knife skills are often overlooked, I think, and a lot of parents let their knives go dull thinking it's safer. Not so!!

    Anyway, my mom let me cook for the family by myself for the first time when I was 10. Goulash, in case you're wondering... ;)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)