Cooking with kids
Some of my favourite memories as a kid are the ones spent in the kitchen. Whether it was just watching my mum or dad cook or whether I was getting stuck in myself. I suppose it’s where my love of cooking comes from, and my natural instinct of showing love through food. (Let’s be honest, there are few ways that show love more profoundly than slaving for a whole day making a Julie Child’s Beef Bourguignon. It’s sublime and speaks your love louder than words, believe me.)
I digress, back to kids and cooking. Whenever I’m left in charge of any little person, the first thing I do is march them into the kitchen and make them my sous chef. I always find it remarkable how well behaved children can be when they’re engaged and joining in with ‘grown up’ tasks. I think I could transform even the most monstrous child into an angel with some dough kneading or bowl licking.
I think the earlier you get them started, the more they love it and, the better cooks they’ll be when they grow up. I’m sure with all my training, my nephew will be the popular guy in uni making a big pot of something delicious for all his skint and hungry pals.
Here are a couple of recipes that I’ve tried with said nephew that he loved making, and eating.
Mince and monster pasta soup
Soup’s always a good one to teach kids. It’s a doddle because it’s pretty much just throw it all in a big pot and voila! You have soup. It’s also a good way to get plenty of veg into them – the wee veg haters are far more likely to eat them if they were the ones who prepared them. This soup is all about letting their (and your) imaginations run wild.
Show me a kid that doesn’t like burgers and well, you’ll have a pretty unique kid on your hands. It’s like pizza, kids are rendered powerless (and silent) when these bad boys get served up. But this time, let the kids help – it’s a must to let them mush up the mince with their wee hands, they’ll love it.
If these two recipes don’t take your kids’ fancy, then there are loads of other recipes on the website that are easy enough for the wee ones to join in.
Also, here are some handy tips for getting your little ones off their tablets and into the kitchen.
- Let the kids own it. Giving them their very own apron and little kitchen utensils is an easy way of getting them excited from the get go. A little recipe folder of all the things they’ve cooked is also a great idea.
- Let the kids make a mess. It’s part of the fun. So if you’re a neat freak, try and repress it for an afternoon, the kids will be grateful (and you never know, you might enjoy it too once you get a little messy yourself).
- Teach them as you go. We take it for granted that carrots grow underground and eggs come from chickens, but it’s fascinating for the little ones to learn it for the first time.
- Let them taste and smell the ingredients as they go – and don’t underestimate them, you might think they won’t like olives or chilli, but let them try, they might surprise you, and it educates their palettes.
- Finally, don’t take your eyes off them for a second. Kitchens can be a dangerous place for little ones. Also, make sure you explain to them that cooking is fun, but only when it doesn’t end in tears.
And that’s it. So why not get into the kitchen with your kids this weekend? If you don’t have any, borrow some (remember you can give them back as sticky as you like).