When I left home at 18 years of age, I could bake shortbread cookies and make scrambled eggs (in the microwave!).
And nothing else.
It was a sad state to be in.
Thankfully, I've learned a few things since then and have even managed to teach my own children to cook.
I didn't really know I was teaching them. I had no plan. But I enjoy cooking and include them often.
When my youngest was still a baby, I'd put her in the highchair and do a cooking show while she nibbled on crackers.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I'd heard it was good to talk to babies a lot, and I needed to cook, so I figured I'd just combine the two.
I felt like a goof ball, but she loved it.
As my daughter got older, I'd let her pour flour in the bowl and stir the ingredients. Now I can ask her to make tortillas for dinner and she does it without help. (It's great!)
Cooking together is a bonding experience
If I need to connect with my kids, but don't know what to do, I bake with them.
They enjoy it, I don't have to think too hard, and we get cookies at the end.
There's something about cooking that brings people together. The talking, the laughter, the working through problems . . .
it all builds relationships.
And it helps them learn how to cook, so they can do it on their own when needed. The more skilled they feel, the more likely they will be to venture into the kitchen without assistance.
Let them do it!
I believe a large part of my daughter's success with cooking is the fact that I let her do it.
Sure, there were times when I didn't involve her, but I try to let her wherever possible.
Sometimes we end up with flour everywhere.
Including the couch cushions . . .
Sometimes we have to remind people not to put measuring cups in their heads . . .
But, I'd rather do the reminding now, while they are young and interested, than when they are older and would rather be doing something else.
Plus, now that my kids are more proficient in the kitchen, I don't have to cook everything. That is a blessing, let me tell you.
The following is a very simple cookie recipe your kids could learn to make on their own. It only contains a few ingredients and takes just a few minutes to prepare.
This recipe comes from the Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen ebook. It's an awesome book!
It comes with cooking videos that completely blew my socks off! The videos let you be a fly on the wall in one of the author's kitchen. You get to see her children prepare (and clean up) breakfast, and she also gives a demonstration on how to teach kids cooking skills (and many other things). It's like having a sweet mentor let you come and sit across their dining table. Just so wonderful.
Equipment Needed: Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, measuring cups and spoons, small baking sheet for toaster oven, parchment paper, cookie scoop or teaspoon measuring spoon, toaster oven.
‣ 1 cup nut butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew, even sunﬂower!)
‣ 1 cup Sucanat
‣ 1 pastured egg
‣ 1 teaspoon baking soda
Yields about 3 dozen.
Preheat toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. If you need to put down the spoon and knead the dough with your hands a few times, that’s okay!
Cover and allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes. It will get even thicker.
Pinch off walnut-size pieces and roll into a ball (or use a cookie scooper or teaspoon measuring spoon to help you get the right amount).
Place six to eight balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet for the toaster oven. Bake for 8 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Roll the rest of the dough into balls and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then, transfer to a freezer container. When you want a few cookies, simply remove that amount from the container, put of a baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes.
Note: We don't have a toaster oven and made these in the regular oven. It worked well, just be sure the cookies are not too close together (they spread). And keep an eye on the cookies after about 5 or 6 minutes. They get crispy pretty quickly.
What are your best tips for teaching kids to cook?