Do you cook? Are you a good cook? How about a decent cook? I don’t know what the exact statistics are on this, but for many in my generation the stove might as well be a spaceship. Cooking is definitely not a strength of generation X, or any generation since the baby boomers for that matter. The baby boomers are who started the no-cooking trend. But did you know that there is a correlation between the skill of the cook and the acceptance of the food by the family? It makes sense if you think about it. Everyone would rather eat good food than bad food.
I wonder how much of today’s picky eating originated not from picky kids but from plain old bad cooking.
As if we needed something else to feel inadequate about. Don’t we have enough problems without adding our shortcomings in the kitchen to the mix? The good news is no one has to be a bad cook. And you don’t need to be Gordon Ramsay to cook good food.
It’s not exactly rocket science (at least if you avoid pastries). Cooking can be learned. And it does not have to be time consuming. Rachael Ray isn’t the only one promoting meals in thirty minutes or less. Surely everyone can come up with thirty minutes at the end of the day.
Cooking can also be fun. And here’s another interesting fact. Kids who take part in the cooking process are more likely to eat the food.
So why not get them involved?
I know, the thought of turning the kids loose in the kitchen scares me too. I can just imagine the mess. But, on the other hand, I remember learning to cook when I was a very little boy. I don’t remember how old, but I’d say younger than five. And it is really a great memory. We had a couple who were employees on our farm. Their names were Pablo and Maria. And they lived in one of our homes. Anyway I spent a lot of time with them when I was little. I would go to their house and Maria would let me roll and cook tortillas.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but for me as a little boy it was. My mom wasn’t too thrilled to learn that her little boy was flipping tortillas by bare-hand on a hot cast-iron griddle. But, it’s something I still do today. (Not that I’d recommend letting your kids do that. Or even you.)
Still, there are tasks your kids can do in the kitchen without risking more than a mess.
For example, not long ago we were over at Isa’s parents’ house. And Damnma (as we call Isa’s mom) asked Andre (our nephew) to help prepare the broccoli. He was a happy boy. And when it was finished he ate the broccoli and said it was delicious.
Now I should point out that he’s also a bit of a picky eater and he typically does not eat broccoli. Point being he felt important being part of the process and he ate broccoli that time.
You can even think of things to do in the kitchen when kids are really young.
Something I do with Maya is taste spices. She’s only 18 months. I don’t let her try everything. She doesn’t get to taste habanero flakes. But she does get to taste a whole lot of other things. She’s a big fan of cumin, and paprika.
She will also watch me cook and seems to understand the process when I’m making her specific things. (I base that on the fact that she stops yelling when I say I still need to x, y and z before she can have it. But after I finish the last step she yells again.)
Even if you can’t cook, why not learn with your kids? The kitchen should be a fun place. And it can be a place where your family comes together. So, get a cookbook with some quick and easy recipes. Pick something simple. Find an easy task or two for your kids. Figure out a way to make it fun for them. Then get them involved in the process, and build some memories.
Ohh, and don’t take it too seriously. It may not always turn out as planned but that’s what makes it fun.