Taking on Bigger Projects
Once they are able to read, they can begin to put together a whole recipe. Bit, children are like computers— they make few or no assumptions.
Here’s an example: Computer programs tell the computer each and every (simplistic) step to take to accomplish a task. Look carefully at your recipes. Do they tell you to get out the all-purpose flour, measure out two cups of flour into a cup measure, and then dump it into the bowl? Likely, they say “Add 2 c. flour.” So kids might ask you, “Mom, when they said to put 4 eggs in the blender, did they want me to take off the shells first?” Mine did!
That’s your cue to fill in all the details for your kids when they are beginning, such as:
- Show them the tools. As you get all the equipment out (cups measures, teaspoon measures, etc.), explain what each does. You choose the right size mixing bowls and baking pans the first few times.
- Warn them about the dangers. “You need to protect your hand with a potholder.” “Here’s where you can touch it safely.” “Here’s how to hold it.” “This tips over if you don’t hold it securely.”
- Get all the ingredients out before you start. This ensures that you have all the ingredients on hand and that they know what each one is.
- Talk to them about how different ingredients behave. “You can really make a mess if the flour gets out of the bowl.” And “Here’s how you crack an egg. I’ll do the first one to show you and you do the rest.” “Sometimes spoons work great for mixing and sometimes a wisk is better.” “Fresh ingredients taste better than droopy ones.”
- Have them smell the herbs and spices they will be using to get acquainted with them (avoids mistakes) and ask them what was the best smell. They will soon develop favorites—another cue to finding recipes that they will enjoy.
Setting Up to Succeed
A great way to encourage kids in the kitchen is to have them orchestrate a meal for a special day all by themselves—a small holiday, that is.
Start with birthday or, better yet, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day—perfect times to let them take over. Make sure all the ingredients are there for a simple meal (bagels/cream cheese/jelly and a toaster) and have them start by preparing breakfast for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
If possible, one can even go outside and pick a few flowers to make the table very special. Have a vase waiting on the counter that you can sacrifice if the worst happens. By the time the next Mother’s Day rolls around, they’ll be experienced and you will wake up to a sweet experience.