I learned a few things when I invited my munchkin to cook with me the other night:
a) He is extremely capable and dang good company.
b) It’s truly amazing how many times, “be careful” can come out of my mouth when I have a child chopping with a sharp knife.
c) Music makes everything more fun especially when spatulas become microphones.
d) The kitchen gets monumentally more messy when cooking with a kid but I made the decision early on not to care and just enjoy it and worry about clean up later.
We decided to make a brand new recipe that seemed like something the kids would love out of my new cookbook It’s All Good. It was fun because I had no idea how to make it either so when he had a question we had to refer to the cookbook. It made the process more like learning together and less like me commanding him what to do. Definitely a positive!
We started with the Go-to Tomato Sauce which he prepared all by himself. Chopping garlic, infusing it into oil, plucking basil leaves off the plant, adding tomatoes and simmering and smashing it all together simultaneously. He whipped it up like a pro.
While that was simmering we conquered the Turkey Meatballs with sage, basil, thyme, rosemary and arugula. I added kale cause that’s just how I roll. While he picked the leaves off the plants and washed them and chopped them up we chatted about the smells, and how unique each one was. We talked about how God created each of these for us to enjoy. We talked about how when the flavours mix together it becomes like fireworks in your mouth! (Thank you, Ratatouille!) As we formed the squishy meat into actual meatballs we giggled and squished it between our fingers and I remembered that this is what cooking should be like. Feeling and smelling and tasting and knowing that God is in and through all of these and that He is so good! Not to mention creative!
After the meatballs were cooked we added them to the tomato sauce and let it all simmer together for a few minutes to let the flavours blend. The smell in the kitchen was amazing!
We then moved on to our Carrots with Sesame and Ginger and I watched with delight as he chopped a piece of fresh ginger and his eyes got big. “This smells like ginger snaps, Mom!” Yes, yes it does. Because ginger isn’t just a powder in a spice jar it starts like this. In a weird and gnarly form that looks sort of gross until you cut it up and smell the sweetness inside. These are moments that can’t be taught out of textbooks but need to be learned by living. By cooking. By chopping and simmering and savouring.
He infused that ginger into some oil, all the while chopping up the carrots that I had peeled into matchsticks. Well, sort of. The other thing I learned is that an eleven year old isn’t going to chop like me. But that’s okay. Matchsticks, shmatchsticks. We’ll have chunks and lumps of carrots and they’ll taste just the same. He marveled at how just a few drops of sesame oil could add such richness and how just a bit of soy sauce made them sing out a fantastic simmering song.
Within an hour dinner was ready. Everything was hot and we were excited to display what we had prepared.
The best part? It was delish and he was proud of that, as he should be. He had created, learned and served all in this one process.
I’m a fan of this whole cooking with kids thing that we’re trying out. I can’t wait to share what we try next week!
How about you? Do your kids cook with you? Do they love it? Do you?