I have mentioned before that I have fond memories of cooking with my family growing up, and it is something that I work to foster with my children. I want them to enjoy food, enjoy cooking it and enjoy experimenting with it. There are several examples that showcase that I’m succeeding with that.
My youngest daughter likes to help with some very specific recipes like macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, the dressing for broccoli slaw/cole slaw. This week we were having grilled lamb sausage with mashed potatoes and she asked if I was making gravy. I had no reason not to make the gravy so I asked whether she wanted chicken gravy or white gravy. She decided it was going to be white gravy and she was going to help make it. She was very focused when she cut the butter and measured out some flour. She vigorously mashed, then stirred, the top layer of potatoes. She asked lots of questions like “what happened to the butter?”, “how long do we have to wait to get gravy?” and “Why are you keeping the peeled potatoes in cold water?” Needless to say she got a little bored and went off to play, until it was time to taste it.
While I appreciate all her help, it often comes with more angst and mess, than cooking alone. Her elbow gets precariously close to the other pot on the stove when she is stirring. She’s still not quite tall enough to peak into the pots without tip towing. And there definitely is more flour, or other ingredients on counters, appliances and the floor.
My oldest daughter surprised us this year when she chose “home economics” as one of her choices for electives. This came with a whole new level of education about sanitation and of course, the identification of the “perfect” way to do a task, usually very different than the way I was doing it. She has backed off from telling me how to do it, and is more interested in her iphone than helping me in the kitchen. However, she is one of the first to tell everyone about all the good things we get to eat at home. Once in a while she’ll contribute something while cooking.
This week, we are focusing on regular family staples rather than anything really new. I decided to offer up the option to allow her to pick the spices, for which I would season the roast chicken. I started the pile with the standard Adobo and cracked black pepper. She added in chili powder, cumin, Chinese five spice (she did taste it first), cardamon, and nutmeg. I mixed it together in proportions that I thought would work. I added some ginger, which I knew would complement the other flavors. I was impressed with the depths of the flavors she chose, as well as the fact that she did not shy away from strong flavors. She decided she really like the combination of spices on the roast chicken.
I really hope the girls have some great memories of this time in the kitchen and continue to enjoy the preparation.
But that’s all in the name of adventure!