Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Empowering Your Kids to Cook Dinner (and Saving You Time)

I give cooking lessons to kids of all ages all the time. We make real food from scratch, with only minor concessions to sharp knives and hot flames. If we do make the default foodstuffs on restaurants' kids' menus (which should be illegal, but that's a story for another day), we'll construct chicken fingers using organic chicken (that we touched and cut into smaller pieces!), organic breadcrumbs and organic eggs. The dipping sauces are homemade barbeque sauce and a honey-mustard mixture.

It's no secret that when the kids are involved, they are more apt to eat and savor what they've cooked. Other dishes—again, all from scratch—we've made recently include eggplant rollatini, shrimp Caesar salad, cold peanut noodle with chicken, skirt steak burritos, a frittata (with mozzarella, basil and sun-dried tomatoes), apple crisp and mango sorbet. Anyone hungry yet?

Taking it a step further, some parents have delegated some of the family cooking to their children. An article ("My Sons, the Sous-Chefs") in today's New York Times highlights the possibilities:
"Here is what our personal chef prepared for dinner the other night: seared duck breast with an apricot-orange sauce, wild rice pilaf and haricots verts.

"He delivered it to the table with professional aplomb and served everyone himself. Though the duck skin might have been more crisp and the pilaf fluffier, my husband and I were effusive with our praise.

"The chef, after all, was our teenage son."
Click here to read the entire article. Also, here's one comment left by a reader, lending a bit of person-on-the-street credibility to the endeavor:
"My son has been cooking by my side and baking at his father's side since he was about 5 years old. The result is that he loves to cook, bake and will try almost anything. He has a few things that he does not eat but compared to most kids we know, the list is small. He now cooks one meal a week and even likes to cook for his best friends family when he stays the night. He has inspired his friends' moms to take action with their sons and daughters and get them inspired in the kitchen. I too have had to combat similar 'battles' with my son but well worth the effort. I think it has made him so much more appreciative of anyone's cooking."

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