Teaching Your Kids How to Cook: Taking Them to the Next Level: Intermediate Skills
So, you’ve introduced your child to the kitchen, shown them around the necessary utensils and started them at the basics. They are making sandwiches, soup and spaghetti, maybe even trying out those cake mixes. What comes next? Once they (and you) are comfortable in the basic level, perhaps it is time to kick it up a notch and introduce them to the next stage: Intermediate Cooking.
Intermediate cooking skills should be taught in schools and would make an excellent addition to a homeschooling curriculum, because now your child will begin to tackle recipes: that requires math (measuring, volume & weight in some cases), reading, and following directions, step by step, which can be tricky even for some of us adults (myself included!) These are useful, practical skills that they actually DO need to learn!
It’s time to shelve those box mixes and grab a cookbook. Any recipe can be accessed on line. Chose the easier version for your child. I started my daughter on “The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook” by Barbara Grunes. (*not an affiliate link). I also use my husband’s more challenging “Culinary Arts Institute Cookbook” and “The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook” (1999 print date). Each cookbook has several recipes that we use time and again, and those pages are well worn. Choose a cookbook you like that is not complex and easy to follow, or print out some recipes from online that your child would like to make. Again, keep it simple! Sometimes food cartons have really good recipes too. Quaker Oatmeal had an excellent oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, Kraft Cream Cheese always has a cheesecake recipe inside of it’s box and Hersey’s Cocoa Powder once had the best brownie recipe we have ever made!
Once you and your child have selected a recipe:
- Have your child read the entire recipe, ingredients, and directions. Some recipes have you make things ahead of time, (i.e. bread dough has to sit for hours to rise!) others include a long chill time (like my daughter’s fave Key Lime Pie recipe). Know what you are getting into ahead of time.
- Go through your pantry to see if you have everything in the recipe. If you do, great, go to step #4.
- Have your child make a list of ingredients that you need for the chosen recipe and go shopping! Take them with you and they can do the “shopping” for the recipe.
- Now have your child put out all the ingredients of the recipe on a clean work area (table, kitchen counter, etc.) and get a damp rag ready to wipe up any messes!
- Then have them set out all tools needed: mixer, measuring cups & spoons, saucepans, etc.
- Let them measure everything out. Again you can play sous chef, chopping things as necessary. Word of caution: be wary of them handling any raw meat. That is an age-appropriate, mature-level skill that even I am wary about! Make sure to sanitize areas you are handling raw meat, cutting boards, knives etc. And never ever use that meat cutting board to chop your veggies or other non-meat items on.
- Now let the cooking commence!
You know your child’s level, so monitor them as necessary. Be extra careful around the stove for younger kids. Always use the proper utensils and hot pads, oven mitts, etc. when removing items from the oven.
Now that your child has completed their first official recipe, let them choose others. They may decide to tweak the recipes with their own twists as they go! Their confidence and competence in the kitchen will grow with practice. My daughter received her first blue ribbon in the youth fair for her Lemon Bars and has gone on to make them for fund raisers as well!
Though my daughter prefers cooking the sweets to the savory, here is another recipe to try with your children. Use a big stew pot. This makes a meal!
Garbanzo Bean Stew
1 cup Spanish onion diced
½ cup diced red pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ cup celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pack Sazon yellow seasoning
1 cup kielbasa sausage sliced and diced
2 cups garbanzos
1 cup potatoes diced
2 cups chicken stock
Sauté the onions, peppers, garlic and celery in the olive oil with the Sazon on medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add everything else into the pot and bring to a boil then cut the heat down to a simmer until the potatoes are done.
Serve with fresh crusty bread for dipping. This recipe is courtesy my husband: the chef!