I was not taught how to cook, and I think there were many factors at play. Suffice to say, on the first night in my first-ever apartment, at 17 years old, I called home to my mom and asked how I was supposed to heat foot since I didn't own a microwave. She directed me to a pot and that thing with dials called a stove top.
To this day, no one waxes fondly about Mama's best recipe for anything, but I try my best and I get three meals on the table for a family of seven per day.
It is important to me to teach my children, girls and boys alike, competence in the kitchen . . . and it's important for me to get some help, especially if God sends us any more babies and our whole home life gets turned topsy turvy.
I've been hearing recommendations of "Kids Cook Real Food" for some time, so I jumped at the chance to register for the e-course when registration was recently open. It is open only a few times per year, but you can get on the list to be notified when that window opens (click here). In the meanwhile, be sure to take the free knife course!
This is an e-course, so purchasing gets you access (either for one year or forever, depending on the package) to online courses, either at levels beginner, intermediate, or advanced, or all three (depending on what you purchase). You can watch the videos whenever you want, as often as you want, and they come with a lot of printed material as well (including a cookbook).
I ran my first class with children ages 3, 5, 7, and 9, and a 1-year-old running around causing havoc. I had planned ahead--by previewing the videos, reading the supply lists, and the meal plan--and purchased the ingredients so that everything we made tonight would be our Friday night dinner. I carved out enough time so that we were cooking calmly and without too much rush for two and a half hours.
There may be more perfect ways to coordinate a multi-age class, but the way I did it was that I had the 3- and 5-year-olds watch the first video, then they made their foods (bread on butter, ants on a log, and peeled vegetables), using their taught skills: spreading with a butter knife and peeling vegetables.
Then I brought in the older children so all the children could watch the intermediate lesson, which was on how to follow a recipe: read the entire recipe first, gather all ingredients and lay them out in order, and so forth. Then all four children used those taught skills to make Ranch dressing and Italian dressing, each from scratch.
Then the little ones lost interest, so the older two stayed for the third video on knife skills, before they made chicken soup with rice, and pasta with cheese sauce.
I admit: it was nutso having a one-year-old running and climbing everywhere. Sometimes another child occupied him. At one point, I strapped him in his seat and then stopped his screaming protest by putting on a cartoon for him to watch (hand me the paper bag of shame). Finally, it was time for his four o'clock second mini-nap of the day, so I lay him down for nap, and that was ideal.
The Dinner Menu
Salad with Italian dressing
Crudites with Ranch dip
Chicken and rice soup
Pasta with cheese sauce
Toast with butter
This was one proud and happy mama! It's not like the afternoon was "a piece of cake," but it was worth the effort.
One class into the experiment: I recommend this e-course not because you don't know how to cook these foods, but the course shows me how to teach children. The woman is so patient and calm, uses many delightful turns of phrase to teach techniques, and explains that we must break down every instruction into many steps. For example, she teaches little children how to carry a plate and that is a four-step process. She teaches how to crack an egg, and that is more steps than that! Much of our impatience and snappishness at children in the kitchen is because we expect them simply to know how to do something, without realizing that we're bringing decades of experience to the table.
I'm hoping to host the cooking classes, of which there are eight modules of three levels each, on Friday afternoons weekly or every other week.
Stay tuned for more culinary successes!