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Talking it over: A budding chef

Over the weekend, my husband and I visited at the home of our son and his family. While there our grandson, who is nine, decided to cook for us. He had a ‘Star Wars’ cookbook and had tried some of the recipes and wanted to let us taste them too.

His recipe was for Cantina Chili. I watched as he worked on the chili. The recipe didn’t call for any hamburger and he did not want to veer from what it called for. He dumped in lots of seasonings, cans of beans and tomato sauces. Then he let it simmer for a while before we ate.

I was impressed by his dedication and also by the chili. He did a wonderful job at the young age of nine and I was happy that he was willing to try new things. We all encouraged him to try more of the recipes and learn from the experience.

I think it is great that kids are given the opportunity to do things like this. Even while Tristyn was working on his chili, his younger sister Addy was pushing a chair up to the counter so she could watch and ‘help’ Mommy with the dishes. My own children did that many times and it was great to have them by my side ‘helping’ in their unique way, even when the water and food often ended up all over the counter and floor.

Children shouldn’t be afraid of working in the kitchen. Even with dishwashers, it is good to let them actually wash some dishes. Fast food, convenience foods and microwaves sometimes take over the cooking part of meals so it is also good to let them experience how to make things from scratch. For example, making a cake from scratch instead of a box or doing soup by cutting up all the ingredients instead of just opening a can.

Just before we were ready to eat, I asked Tristyn if he had tasted his chili yet. He said no, but Mommy had. I told him that a good cook always tastes what they make so they know if anything needs to be added. Teaching a child to cook means helping them with little things like that. It also means showing them how to carefully measure, dump and stir. It means tasting, adding a pinch of this or that, and deciding on the right ingreadients. It means showing them how to respect the heat of a burner and oven and be cautious around the tools used in cooking.

With all this, cooking together with a child also means special one-on-one time. It creates great memories, especially when things go wrong, and teaches a child how to laugh over failures and be humble when things go perfect and taste exceedingly well. It can also teach them that trying it a second or third time will not always bring about the same outcome.

Cooking is a wonderful lesson for children. It is also a great way to spend time together and share special moments. For grandparents, it is also a wonderful way to get good food and dinner invitations from the grandkids while we watch them grow and learn. We get the best of everything.