“It’s My Cooking Day!”

Here, as everywhere, we have some very hungry kids.  They are learning to cook and they love it.  They love being able to choose the food, cook it themselves and then serve their “creation” to the family.  We find that when the kids choose the meal they are concerned about preparing something healthy and balanced.  They take responsibility for choosing foods that are both delicious and healthy.

Scooter is so excited today.  He screamed, “It’s my cooking day and I am cooking Chinese!”  He studied the Chinese New Year in nursery school, wore a dragon costume and practiced eating with chopsticks.  Since then he wants every meal to be Chinese.  I sliced the beef but Scooter marinated the beef and is stir frying it himself in the wok.  He also has rice boiling in a separate pot.

Cooking in a wok is the perfect choice for a young child.  It is safe, easy and allows the child to create a sophisticated meal for the family.  I bought the vegetables pre-sliced and chopped at the grocery store.  These are a little more expensive but enable Scooter to do all the “cooking” himself.

Scooter just needs to add the vegetables, one at a time, and stir.  He feels like the worlds best chef.

A beautiful family meal prepared by Scooter, age 5.

And yes, he loves his vegetables.

The competition is fierce and Bounce is eager to have his turn.  First words of the day, “It’s my cooking day today!”  He is making another kid-easy meal.  He is sautéing sliced chicken (pre-cut) in butter.  He will add all his own spices.  He is also cooking spinach cheese tortellini and corn-on-the-cob.  These are easy as all you need to do is boil water.  He will later add pesto sauce to the tortellini.  Delicious.

Bounce is particularly concerned about dessert.  He knows that a good dinner should include a great dessert and he is determined to bake and decorate his own cake.  He tries to keep it a surprise from his older brothers and sisters but they can smell the wonderful warm sugary smell of cake throughout the house.

Bounce’s dinner is a great success, and so is his cake!

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is teaching all of life’s skills and teaching the joy of serving others.

Teaching the Kids to Cook: Both Happy and a Mess!

I have been busily cooking for the Happymess crew (up to 10 people daily) for, umm, could it be 25 plus years?!  Well, I have (finally!) decided that it is time to share the joy, and teach the younger 5 kids to cook.

This experiment, fraught with anxiety on my part, and great anticipation on the part of the kids (When is it my turn?!),  began this week.

Truth began the experiment.  He was “in charge” of the kitchen for the entire day and had to plan, cook and clean up each meal and snack.  He woke up early and began with Bisquik pancakes.  He chose these because he learned to cook them on a Boy Scout camping trip.

Truth was very proud of his first attempt.

Quantum struggled upstairs in his pajamas, took one look in the frying pan and said,

“What the heck are those?”

Athena helpfully looked in the pan and announced, “That looks disgusting!”

Where upon, Truth ran from the room screaming.  It was a successful first step.  After rescuing both the breakfast and Truth’s feelings everyone proclaimed that the pancakes were delicious (they actually were).

Quantum and Athena were chastised for their insensitive behavior.  They were surprised that thoughtless remarks would hurt the cook’s feelings!  First lesson learned.  Their turn would be next.

Truth had a second chance to succeed at lunchtime.  He made grilled cheese sandwiches with sliced turkey and cream of tomato soup.

Notice the improvement in grilling?  Everyone enjoyed their lunch and remembered to say only positive comments and to thank the chef!

Truth’s Menu (Monday)

Breakfast:  pancakes and orange slices

Snack:  pretzels

Lunch:  grilled cheese with turkey, tomato soup

Dinner:  left over turkey and stuffing, brownies (Truth baked these)

Quantum’s turn was next and he wasn’t taking any chances.  He chose reliable foods that he could cook and made sure no one had a chance to laugh at his efforts.

Quantum’s Menu (Tuesday)

Breakfast:  waffles and bacon

Snack:  baby carrots and chips with onion dip

Lunch:  hotdogs and soup

Dinner:  breaded chicken breasts (these were excellent!), mixed vegetables, homemade chocolate chip cookies (learned at Boy Scouts)

Athena had the next turn.  Her biggest struggle was waking up early to make breakfast before the others awoke.  She managed without a single complaint.  I think she was afraid that I would give her the breakfast shift everyday if she complained.

Athena’a Menu (Wednesday)

Breakfast: corned beef hash, eggs over easy

Snack:  fresh pineapple

Lunch:  cream of tomato soup, French bread, roast beef slices

Dinner: tacos, homemade crepes for dessert

Finally it was Bounce’s turn!  He could hardly wait!  He loves cooking and was eager to impress his big siblings.

He began with making French toast.  As you can see, he was taking his job very seriously.

His first attempts at grilling French toast were quite impressive.  Everyone loved his breakfast and by now they were humbled by the complexities of pleasing a crowd.  Big siblings, usually quite critical, admitted that the French toast was delicious.

Thrilled, Bounce could hardly wait for lunchtime.

Bounce is making French onion soup.  This is a favorite when we eat at a restaurant and everyone was amazed that you could also make it at home.  Another big sibling hit!

After dinner Bounce had the best dessert surprise:  S’MORS!  Quantum made the fire (he just learned this week) and Truth couldn’t have ben happier with the melted chocolate and marshmallows.

Bounce’s Menu (Thursday)

Breakfast:  French toast, bacon, cottage cheese

Lunch:  French onion soup

Dinner:  spaghetti and meatballs with green beans, S’mors

And guess what?  Scooter had to have a turn also!  He came to my room by 6 a.m. eager to begin his “cooking day”.

He planned his favorite foods: hard boiled eggs and jello.

Scooter’s Menu (Friday)

Breakfast:  hard boiled eggs, apple slices, oatmeal

Snack:  vanilla yoghurt with sliced bananas and granola

Lunch:  tuna fish sandwiches

Dinner: roast chicken, baked potatoes, spinach, jello

Scooter especially enjoyed cleaning the floor!

Surprisingly, the experiment was a success.  The Happymess kids enjoyed planning and preparing their meals.  They learned to be respectful of one another’s efforts and they helped clean up when they realized how much work it is for one person.  It was actually LESS work for me when they cooked, even though I had worried that it would be more difficult.

As a friend use to say,  “It is always the wrong day to teach the kids how to clean up after themselves.”  Well, after 25 years, I guess I finally got the courage to share the cooking fun!

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is letting go…the kids can actually do things!