Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cooking with the Girls

As the youngest of five children I remember doing a lot of very small jobs to get the dinner on the table.  Setting the table, stirring the tea, eventually I remember making it up to the task of mashing the (already cooked and seasoned) potatoes with the mixer.  I thought I was really helping.  I was, but I wasn't really learning to cook.
Lydia - our youngest cooking apprentice. :)

It is wonderful to have your children help you in the kitchen.  It builds a special bond, because they know you want and even need them around you, but it won't teach them to cook.  Eventually you have to step away and let them cook.  I remember being so proud of myself at age 16 cooking spaghetti (with sauce in a jar), broiling the buttered bread and an easy salad.  It was an accomplishment for me, but I could have learned it much sooner.  Why didn't I?

Some of it may be that I didn't express much interest and wasn't made to learn by my mom.  As I recall, I pretty much had my nose stuck in a school book or a book for pleasure reading ALL the time! Another reason I didn't learn young is that I was often not even home.  My girls don't have a clue what it feels like to be gone from 7AM until 4PM.  Since my mom worked in the years of my older childhood, breakfasts generally required no cooking except on Saturday.  Lunches were purchased at school.  Dinners were usually taken care of by mom who was tired from working and not really in the mood to teach/supervise an uninterested child.

So what can you do if your children are in the situation I was in as a child?  I think I would try to teach one child at a time on Saturday or Sunday.  Then have them copy this meal later in the week with less help from me.  I would also try to have them cook with me on the weekends when I was hopefully feeling more relaxed and able to handle the "stress" of a helper.

Daddy still cooks for us all occasionally! 
At first, as a stay home mom, I have pretty much done all the cooking.  Of course the first few years when I was learning myself, my husband and I took turns. (He was a much better cook than me.  I say was, because I think we are pretty even now, except for gravy! :))
Did he spoil us, or what? ;)

As the girls grew and were big enough to express an interest in helping I have tried to let them do as much as they can.  I very rarely say, "Go out until I am finished."  Even a stay home mom can get a bit cranky at the 5o'clock hour so it did happen occasionally! LOL  About two years ago, I really began to teach the two oldest to cook.  Small things at first.  Scrambled eggs, pancakes, cupcakes, and oatmeal for breakfasts.  Hamburger helper or mac and cheese from a box for lunch.  Since dinners require many hot things completed at once they usually just help.  Desserts such as cookies, cinnamon toast, and cakes from a mix are also very fun to make. I think the hardest part of teaching the new cook is letting them handle the hot things.

*** Tip:  If allowing your children to pour boiling hot water or remove a pan from a 400 degrees oven is too scary for you to contemplate, you can try this trick.  Have them practice the motions with cold water and a cold pan.  Once they learn the motions try it with warm materials.  I think steam is the worst part so I teach mine to back up for a minute to let the steam rise!  Our other rule is that they don't do any of these actions until they are 4 1/2 feet tall! ***

About a year ago, when Memaw Rose moved in with us, she took over the kitchen. She is a wonderful cook and loves to cook and not letting her cook causes her to be unhappy! :)  So I gladly relinquished the kitchen to her.  However one negative side effect was that she was too nervous to cook with the kid helpers.  She is trying to overcome this issue because she knows how important it is for the girls to learn these skills now.  When she was gone for about a month recently, Hannah did a lot of the cooking for breakfast, lunch and even some dinners.  It was a good reminder to me that we need to keep working on teaching them!

The girls made the chocolate cake for Grandmom's birthday.
Our plan during the school year is for one girl to help with cooking the dinner meal or desserts each week.  During breaks we may try to have them actually cook a meal on their own.  Break starts tomorrow so I may try to follow up this post with a report on that experiment! :)

I also try to remember that cooking for others helps our children to be part of a ministry.  We show hospitality when we cook for guests in our home.  We show compassion when we make a meal for someone who has been sick or unable to cook for themselves for some reason.  We show love when we make something for someone just because they enjoy it.  It is wonderful to be part of a ministry!

Mary (middle) getting ready to enjoy some hospitality at our dear Phillips' house!
I will also add that if you have already taught them to clean up messes, then cooking lessons will be more pleasant! :)

Please go check out these blogs for more mom inspiration to teach your children to cook!
Smockity Frocks
The Common Room
Raising Olives

With All My Heart~


  1. This is wonderful, Eva! My mom and yours were much alike, but I'm grateful for the family into which God placed me. Grace doesn't always show an interest in cooking, but I involve her as time and interest allow (anything with sugar is an automatic draw :-). Math lessons in measuring amounts are always more fun in the kitchen, aren't they? I love the Resurrection Sunday photo at the top of your page! Hannah is SO TALL! xoxo Susan in Florida, who doesn't have a google or other ID (therefore Anonymous)

  2. I have to admit that my best eaters show a bit more interest! :) Hannah wears the same size shoe as me and is only a bit shorter than my 60 inches! LOL Love you too, dear (not at all anonymous) Susan


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