You might no longer be a kid, but I’m sure you remember those magical moments when you witnessed frozen raspberries whizzed into surprisingly pink smoothie or fried egg yolk turn to light-salmon color from a gold-like color or the magic of muffins rising in the oven. If you’ve had kids around you for long enough, I don’t need to tell you how time-consuming or messy it can be to cook with one but in the end, the life lessons learnt makes it all worth it. Personally, I am a mother of 4, all within the ages of 5 and 12 and they spend a lot of time with me in the kitchen. From my experience, I have put the 6 tips together to assist people new to this and you might find some of them surprising:
1. Make use of sharp knives.
Yes! That’s right. Make use of your sharpest knives. Knife accidents usually happen when you have to saw your way through food however, if your knife is sharp enough, a single slice through will reduce the effort applied, thus making it a little less dangerous. That said, you have to acknowledge that they are still kids and still have to be monitored. Before allowing any of them to use your knife, ensure they have their fingers well placed to avoid any cut. Secondly, allow them slice only the items with flat surface and make them use a cutting board. If you wish to have them cut round objects like apples or onions, slice it into 2 yourself; that way, they have a flat surface that can easily rest on the board.
2. Encourage messiness.
It is wise to clean up as you go. This offers the child enough space to take on the next task. While doing this, be careful not to put undue pressure on the kid so they don’t feel like they are messing things up. For some time, I observed that my 8-year-old daughter didn’t join me in the kitchen and when I asked, she said I was always cleaning and she was always making a mess so she didn’t want to give me more work. Ever since then, I never clean up until after the cooking is completely done.
3. Allow them lick the fingers, spoons and beaters.
Licking fingers while cooking is fun – I’m sure you know that already; just do not forget to make sure they wash their hands after licking. You should lick the beaters before adding vanilla or sugar to feel the level of creaminess. Before and after adding salt to a soup, you should be able to lick the spoon. For kids, give them a taste of the spoon and if they like it even before you add salt; that means you just have to put little salt.
4. Eat dessert first.
Imagine being told to wait till after dinner before you can taste the amazing oatmeal cookies you have spent time mixing and measuring. That’s just a killjoy. I am a dietician and I don’t have an issue with my kids having the dessert before the main course if it’s what they want. That way, they don’t see it as a reward for finishing their veggies; they see it as part of the meal. Also, their tummies will most likely be full so there will be no need for another dessert after the meal.
5. Touch everything, including raw eggs and meat.
Let them know what each food looks like in its raw form and make them understand where it comes from. Make them touch the dirt-encrusted vegetables. Allow them assist you in mixing meatloaf by squashing their hands in raw eggs and ground meat. They will definitely want to try a new food if they were part of the preparation process.
6. No such thing as the perfect time.
Even on nights when it seems like they are all busy; one kid busy with homework, another practicing for dance class, the third practicing the piano; it doesn’t matter, they don’t all have to be there. The fourth child can help you. That one child can still do some minor things; you don’t have to wait till they are all available. If he/she is one that is still learning to read, he/she could take great pride in reading out the next item from the recipe book.
Before long, you will have your kids making their own snack for the soccer practice or club meeting.