How to raise adventurous eaters (Pt. 2)

June 10, 2015 | By | Comments (4)
My daughter was born meticulous.And in the kitchen, I call her the queen of mise-en-place. Photo by Phyllis Grant

My daughter was born meticulous. And in the kitchen, I call her the queen of mise-en-place. Photo by Phyllis Grant

At the award-winning Dash and Bella, named after her son (7) and daughter (12), Sunset guest blogger Phyllis Grant tells stories about the intersection of cooking and parenting.

For more, see Part 1.

PART 2: COOKING WITH KIDS

I yell a lot in the kitchen.

Stop!

Put down the knife.    

Nice job flipping the pancakes!

Hot!

Are you crazy?

Leave the kitchen for five minutes and don’t come back until you can be safe.

Your tart is so beautiful!

I’m happy to say that after twelve years of navigating the kitchen with two kids, making a meal has become less of a wild event and more of a daily ritual: like brushing your teeth or making your bed. But my kids participate in very different ways.

My seven-year-old son will speedily surf through the kitchen on his way to his homework, entering tasks midstream, snacking on parmesan, chopping the parsley, bashing garlic and anchovies with the mortar and pestle, spinning the salad greens, and then whoosh, he is gone and I’m on my own again.

 

My son surfs through the kitchen to spin the salad greens. Photo by Phyllis Grant

My son surfs through the kitchen to spin the salad greens. Photo by Phyllis Grant

 

My daughter was born meticulous. She’s only twelve, but I pay her lots of cash to help me organize the toiletries, the pantry, my clothes. And in the kitchen, I call her the queen of mise-en-place. When she makes chocolate chip cookies, even before turning on the mixer, she must have everything measured out and arranged in pretty bowls.

My kids are comfortable in the kitchen and able to be themselves because the rules are clear and we all feel safe. But in order to get to this place of ease, we have spent hundreds of hours chopping, whisking, rolling, stirring, baking, dish-washing, dish-breaking.

If you can, start when they’re young. Assign small tasks. And never let cooking feel like a chore.

 

When kids are toddlers, place them on your hip or your back at the stove. Photo by Phyllis Grant

When kids are toddlers, place them on your hip or your back at the stove. Photo by Phyllis Grant

 

1. When they’re toddlers, place them on your hip or your back (I used an Ergo and then a hiking backpack) at the stove so that they feel like they’re a part of the experience.

2. Let them hold your wrist while you whisk, flip, or stir.

3. Hand little ones a butter knife and a soft piece of fruit like a peach or a pear. Next, still with a dull butter knife, teach them to curl their fingers and angle the knife away. Once they’ve mastered this technique, bring out the real knives. Just don’t look away for the first few years.

4. Hand them scraps of dough to make mini tarts. Let them over-mix and over-fill.

5. Don’t force your kids into the kitchen. Let them see you enjoying it (fake it if you need to). In fact, sometimes, don’t invite them into the kitchen at all. Let it be your peaceful place. Then watch them get intrigued.

 

Waiting for crepes. Photo by Phyllis Grant

Waiting for crepes. Photo by Phyllis Grant

 

6. There will be waste. Things will get broken. Fingers will get cut. Eggs will hit the floor.

7. Let go. Clean up. Start again. Play.

 

Making a crepe cake. Photo by Phyllis Grant

Making a crepe cake. Photo by Phyllis Grant

 

COMMENTS

  1. eat/make/do [10]: Be Nice! | Notes from Betty Becca

    […] I’ve talked about this before…I found and love these tips for raising adventurous eaters. […]

    July 8, 2015 at 7:51 am
  2. Audrey Fullerton

    Yes, I did pretty much the same. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it. Ah ha! what happy surprises. Having your kids help in the kitchen is a huge help. I used to commute an hour and a quarter, and my junior high school son was happy to get our dinner started. He and his brother who also learned to cook, are both helpful guys and good cooks.
    Never complain about the mess if they are doing food prep willingly, but show them the short cuts so it is close to done when they are finished. In homes, where both spouses work, the cooking should be joyfully shared.

    June 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm
  3. Jan

    Being a divorced mother, I needed my son’s help. Both cooking, cleaning and at the grocery store. Today he is a 31-year old great guy; self-efficient, super boyfriend, wonderful cook and even better and neater housekeeper than I am! He is proud of his self-reliance, his ability to whip up an outstanding dinner for himself – and often others. And I am so proud of him.
    My mantra when he was little: ” just try a bite. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.” Today he is a very adventurous eater and delights in trying something different.
    Also, I introduced Tuesday as finger food night. It’s amazing what they will eat when they get to eat it with their hands! 🙂
    Jan

    June 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm
  4. manykittiesmama

    I’ve done all of these things. The result was kids (now in their 30’s) who are excellent, creative cooks in their own right. I’m now teaching the grandlittles…

    June 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm

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