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Cooking with kids

Over my son’s 3 1/2 years, we’ve seen his interests range from being a doctor, a cop, Batman and a “maker” (his word for chef…I think he gets it from me saying I’m going to go “make” dinner,).  Though he puts on each of these faces several times a day, he’s shown a growing desire to be mixing and measuring and layering lately.

I’m constantly suppressing the urge to tell him no just for the sake of keeping my kitchen clean and not having to buy a new carton of eggs every 3 days. So I’ve been trying to be creative in giving in to his chef instincts. I invite him into the kitchen when I’m about to start dinner. He already has an assigned station where he has his own bowls and spoons. I pre-measure samples of what we’re making that night so he can make his own mini-meal alongside me.

I walk him through the process from reading the recipe (of course, he’s not ready just yet…but it’s the idea of it that’s important) and measurements to describing a tasting the ingredients (most of them).  We go over kitchen safety with knives and the oven. He feels a bit of independence too as we’ve done this over time and he knows where to get certain ingredients or utensils that are within his reach.

This has been a great way for us to count together and since he is literally “hands on” – he has been more receptive to trying new things at the dinner table knowing that he was involved in the preparation. And the best part is the laughs we share as we spend this time together.

Patience is key.  It’s not every night that I feel like I have two hours to create dinner. As many of us moms know, it can be a crazy rush to get dinner on the table. But when we do have the time, I really give it time.  There will be spills and maybe too much or too little of something will go into our concoction.  Then again, isn’t that how some really great recipes are created – by accident?

I love to cook, so for me, Luke’s interest in cooking is a great time. But I’ve also been handcuffed and I’ve spent a fair share of my time on Dr. Speer’s hospital bed.  Last week I helped him build that city that Batman lives in out of Legos. What city does he live in anyway?  

Whatever your kids interests are, understand they’ll continue to change – but take the time to embrace them and try to be involved with them in what excites them.   


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