I want to encourage those of you who are dragging your feet when it comes to letting your kids cook in your kitchen. I always knew that it was important to teach my kids to cook, but I kinda figured it would be best to wait until they wouldn’t make a mess, would never make a mistake and show excellent judgment in areas of safety. [embarrassed sigh] My beautiful friend, Ellen, gently but firmly challenged me on my perfectionist/OCD expectations and told me that I needed to “get over” that. She reminded me that my job was to prepare my kiddos for life…and that life involved eating. That was about four years ago. Since then, I have given the kids increased freedom and responsibility in the kitchen.
Gracie, age 11, had to choose some recipes to make from the country of her choice, and she chose Germany. She looked through an international cookbook and made her selections. Tonight, she is making Stuffed Cornish Hens (Hamburg Style), spaetzle (egg noodles), Himmel and Erde (potatoes and apples) and Black Forest Cherry Cake–all from scratch and with minimal assistance. Truly, she has not opened one can or used one mix; the whole shebang is completely from scratch–stuffing, chocolate cake, cherry filling and whipped topping.
Because of my own insecurities, I would have NEVER chosen to make these things all in one night–especially since I’ve never even tasted two of the recipes. I’ve never even prepared cornish game hens! I just want to illustrate that kids can so often do more than we believe they are capable of doing. And, if we do not pass along our own fears, insecurities and perfectionist tendencies, they are much more likely to not feel intimidated by such routine experiences as cooking–and the odds are good that they will enjoy these routine experiences as well.