Kids Cook Night

I was innocently driving home from work one evening when the radio host quoted Robert A. Heinlein (it was the mellifluous and articulate Joan Holliday on The River WRSI out of Northampton, Massachusetts). Here's what she passed on from the wisdom of Heinlein:

"Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy."


A few days later I repeated the quote to my children. They said, "What does it mean?" I did not have a planned answer. But the answer turned out to be: "I need to give you opportunities to learn things for yourselves, instead of just doing those things for you. Like maybe I should let you use the kitchen to learn how to cook." And that is how Kids Cook was born.

We decided that every Friday (unless there's some special event), Mommy would stay out of the kitchen and try her best to Not Help. The kids are totally in charge, unless some rare thing needs a grownup like using a sharp knife or a hot stove.

It's been working very well! So far Kids Cook night has featured:
  • Pepperoni pizza with housemade crust
  • Pigs in a blanket (mini hot dogs with mustard, baked in crescent roll dough)
  • Loaded baked potatoes (with sour cream, oven-fried bacon, grated cheddar, etc.)
  • Fish, white rice, broccolini (cornmeal-crusted haddock, crisp-tender broccolini in olive oil with garlic)
  • Mac and cheese pot pie with bacon (from a Tasty recipe on Youtube, link below)

Here is a photo essay on the Mac & cheese pot pie. It was quite delicious, not as heavy/cheesy as it sounds! Along the way, the kids learned how to make mac & cheese from scratch.

The Tasty pot pie is basically mac and cheese placed in a small oven-proof container/bowl with more cheese and bacon, then topped with a round of pizza crust brushed with herbed butter. Bake!

Once baked, you loosen the crust at the edges and flip it all over. It resembles a deep-dish pizza full of macaroni.

We made two pot pies to serve a family of four, and had this much left over. Yummy! We got a particularly smoky type of bacon, and I think that helped cut through all the cheese and starch.

Kids cook becomes kids eat!

Notes: I plan things out the night before with my daughter, who is 10. I dictate ingredients and instructions to her, and she types them into a running document called "Kidsrecipes" that lives on the family laptop. The next day, she refers to what we wrote and gives out the instructions to her 6-year old sous-chef/brother. 

Another note: It is really hard to keep out of the way. Kids are fun when they cook! I also position use of the kitchen as being very special. This is in no way supposed to be a family chore. It is something we are letting them do as a learning experience and earned privilege. If I have to MAKE somebody cook, I will do it myself!!

Any kid-cooking tips or stories to share? How about kid-makeable recipe ideas?

No comments: