This post is dedicated to my children (obviously) but mostly to my oldest daughter. In thinking about this subject, I realize that we should not only teach our children how to cook meals, but truly how to cook. Teach them to have the ability to create meals in their heads, create recipes from scratch, throw some food together and make it tasty.
The picture you see above is where I spend most of my time; that’s my kitchen. I have had many kitchens before this one, and when remodeling this house extra time and care went into the kitchen knowing it would be one of if not the most important room in the house. You will often see our kids, friends, or other family sitting around the breakfast bar while my oldest daughter and I are laughing, joking, cooking, and baking. To me cooking is not just about the food, it’s about the entire experience.
I am a latch key kid of the 80′s, so my meals as a child during the week were split between spaghetti and omelets. I got really good at spaghetti and omelets. (Clearly I’m exaggerating, but I did have a lot of spaghetti and omelets.) When I first moved out on my own I worked at an Italian restaurant in town so I never cooked at home for myself (and got even better at cooking spaghetti).
Then I met my husband and all of a sudden I was thrown into the necessity of having to cook for us and his three kids. We reminisce about how when we first met I was just an ‘okay’ cook; I definitely wasn’t anything spectacular. But months and a lot of practice later, and here I am!
The reason I share with you my history is simply to reflect on this: don’t just teach your children to cook (certain meals), teach them to really cook (anything they want, with or without a recipe).
My children are currently in different levels of learning how to cook. My youngest is at the “pour the measuring spoon into the bowl and help me mix it up” stage. The twins are a few levels above her; they fetch ingredients, wash and cut veggies, and they’re wonderful at shredding carrots and zucchini. I guarantee they love when we harvest our garden and bring in laundry baskets full of zucchini for them to shred and freeze! Well, they love it for the first hour or so.
My oldest is clearly reaching the highest level of learning how to cook, which makes me so proud as I was NOWHERE near that level at her age. It took a lot of time and a dash of patience for her to get there.
Over the past many years, she has been side by side with me in the kitchen (not always by choice for her). She’s been through the ‘cooking phases’ (as I like to call them). At first, it was all about baking cookies. Then it was about learning how to chop vegetables. Then we were back to baking cookies. Next came the desire to make complete meals. Then it was baking cookies again.
Just recently she hit a couple landmarks. She now has quite a few recipes memorized, and cooks without referring to that piece of paper. I loved seeing the pride in her face when she mentioned how she thought it was so cool that she could make these things without having to look at the recipe. The next landmark she hit was creating some of her own dishes. Now the creative culinary juices are flowing, and she’s asking me “What about? Can we try this? Wouldn’t that be yummy?” I love it! I’ve got someone in the house who is just as excited about cooking as I am. Most importantly, I know that when she moves out she will not only have meals that she has learned how to cook, she will have the knowledge and confidence of how to create her own meals and recipes.
So I encourage you: don’t just show your kids how to follow a recipe. Go beyond that and teach your children to really cook!