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Cooking with kids

January 22nd, 2004 · No Comments

While I’m on the topic….thought I’d put in a couple other notes about cooking and mothering….

A while ago a friend sent me this NYT article The family that eats together … may not eat the same thing which discusses what has happened to dinner in American families….

Janice Goldklang, a New York publisher, was reveling about dinnertime in her home in Pelham, N.Y.

“There are like five conversations going on at once,” she said. “Food is flying around, the dog is eating what falls from the table and no one is sitting down.”

No one is eating the same thing, either….

“What my husband did, which in his mind is some sort of derivation of salmon, so that he can feel that we’re all sort of eating the same thing,” Goldklang explained, “was he made crab cakes for the 8-year-old. He bought premade sushi at the supermarket for the little girl. My 6-year-old wouldn’t eat any of it. He took two pieces of white bread and put a piece of American cheese between it and stuck it in the microwave. He called it grilled cheese.”

I liked this quote about the importance of family meals together:

In a 1999 study conducted by Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York, parents and their children ages 8 through 18 were asked what they thought children would most remember about this period in their lives. Galinsky said, “When I asked parents, they would often guess the big moments. The family vacation. The special event. Kids would talk about everyday family rituals.”

“So meals are really important,” Galinsky added. “They may not be the most important, but they say, ‘This is our family. This is how we do things.’ “

We almost always have dinner all five of us as a family, and we even have lunch most days too, since Ted works at home, two doors away from the dining room. Eating together is a great time for us to talk together as a family. During lunch Ted gets to see how the day is going so far for the girls and me, and we get to hear how his is doing too. Sometimes we discuss neighborhood happenings, the news or spirituality. And even blogging 🙂

If we miss having a meal together, now I feel it. I realize that I don’t know how Ted’s day is going and he doesn’t know how we’re doing. We’re more likely to come onto collison course (which we do rarely anyway) if we haven’t had the time to talk and be together over the table.

Usually we all eat the same meal for dinner. The closest I come to being a short-order cook is at lunch, when we lactose-eaters have cheese and Ted has lunchmeat. And at breakfast, sometimes recently with our selection of cereals, I’ve allowed the girls to each eat something different…not as much variety as my friend Katherine described (in her comment on my recent post about cereal), but some…

In a recent Bainbridge Review, professional kitchen designer and pantry consultant Molly McCabe wrote “…my days of being a short order cook are over. I will confess that I have spent far too many nights making four separate meals for my family.” I liked this column titled Kids n’ kitchens: a healthy mix and hoped it would be on-line. Oh well. She shared many ideas and also recommended a number of kitchen gadgets that would be helpful for cooking together with children:

the apron and oven mitt kit from Burn Guard (it not only keeps kids clean but safe from hot stuff as well); the Taxi Prep, a five inch wide stainless steel dust pan for scooping up chopped items and depositing them in a bowl/pan (this tool is a real confidence builder as it prevents items from accidentally dropping to the floor); and a horizontal grater with a non-slip bottom catch container.

The other day I was mixing paints to help the girls with an art project.
“It’s like making sauce, ” Abigail said, watching me turn blue and yellow into green.

I thought “Wow!” She’s right. Already she sees cooking as art!

Tags: food