Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cooking with My Kids

Kids Making Pizza
Five of the Kids Making Pizza
I've been raising children for 23 years now and by the time I've "raised" them all (you know, to the magical age of I'm-never-moving-out-18) I'll have been raising kids for 35 years. That's a lot of kid time and a whole lot of meals, especially as there are so many of them.

One in a while I let go of my OCD self and let them help cook. The results aren't always perfect and I find myself looking over shoulders and correcting, but usually they have a good time. Kids are always more likely to eat something they've helped prepare, so it helps me avoid uneaten meals and rounds of, "Ew! I can't eat that!"

Kids Making Pizza
Another Pizza Night

Not all of the kids are adept at cooking and several just flat out would rather eat, but my 8 year-old, Ian, is something of a whiz in the kitchen. Ian is on the Autism spectrum with high functioning Asperger's. He is bright and cute and loves to be in the kitchen with me. He is also frustrating as hell and some days just the sound of his voice makes me a nervous wreck - you never know what he'll be ready to dish out on any given day. Once I have him in the kitchen, though, he is calm, focused, ready to learn and non-argumentative. A perfect helper and very good at what he does.

Kids Cooking
Ian Cooking Spinach

All of the kids have helped when we make pizza together and they all love that; they can choose whatever toppings they like, stretch their pizza into whatever shape they like and take as much time getting it together as they like. Beyond pizza, though, the other kids don't really like to be in the kitchen helping ... they'd rather hover like buzzards waiting to go in for the kill.

Kids Cooking
The Littlest Munchkin, Lara, Making Pizza

Not too long ago Ian asked (as always) if he could help prepare dinner. I was making fried chicken that night and was convinced there was nothing he could help with. He watched me use a standard breading procedure for chicken cutlets and then announced that he could do it.

I reluctantly told him he could and then explained "wet hand - dry hand" to him. Off he went. He did so well with it that I almost couldn't get the chicken fried fast enough. He truly excelled at breading chicken. I was so amazed and proud I had to take a picture of him - which he loved.

Kids Cooking
Ian Breading Chicken
As soon as his part was done and I assured him there was nothing else I needed help with, he ran off and got into trouble with his siblings. But, while he's in that kitchen with me, with his hands flying and his brain chill and concentrating on the task at hand, he's fine. We talk, he asks questions about what we're doing,  and he even tells me, "I'm learning so much from you, mom!". This from the same child who will tell me he hates me when I won't let him have his way.

I'm thinking a culinary path is in his future, and that would be just fine with me ... because some day HE will be the one making dinner for me.

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