Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kid Cookery

I don't cook with my kids. For them, all the time. But with them? Nope. The reason for this, as anyone with children will tell you, is that involving children in any task increases the time and patience required by at least two times that required by an adult performing the same task alone.

But Cubby in particular has always had a great interest in anything to do with growing and preparing food. He's already got the gardening thing mostly down, so the next logical step is teaching him to prepare the food he grows. He's been asking lately to help me in the kitchen. Unfortunately, his requests usually come at the crunch time of dinner prep, when I'm doing five things at once and am minutes away from actually getting food on the table.

So I say no. And then I feel bad.

I do want him--and all my children--to know how to cook. It's an essential life skill, to say the least, and one that is obviously very important to me. It's just getting up the energy to deal with two children in the kitchen is sometimes harder than it should be.

There is also the point that I must find a time they can help me when Jack isn't around, because Cubby and Charlie are quite enough to be instructing and managing. I do not need a volatile two-year-old thrown into that mix with knives and raw meat.

The perfect moment came today when I was summoning my willpower to get up during Jack's nap and do some dinner prep. My plan had been to make pork meatballs and peanut sauce for lettuce wraps. I have insane quantities of butterhead lettuce coming out of the garden at the moment, and I figured if I can convince the kids that lettuce wraps are just like tacos (except for the fact that they're green and, you know, vegetable matter), I could get through a couple of heads in one meal.

I decided to make the meatballs because I only have ground pork at the moment, and I thought it would be more palatable to them in meatball form. Not to mention much less messy to eat.

While I was contemplating the making of the meatballs and peanut sauce, Charlie and Cubby came inside and commenced to sprawling around in the living room in the universal pose of bored children everywhere.

So I asked them if they wanted to help me make meatballs.

Of course they did.

They watched me mince up some green shallots--a couple green shoots of the shallot plants in the garden, which was my substitution for green onions-- and add all the ingredients (all of which I totally made up with no recipe) to the bowl with the pork as I explained about binding meat together with bread crumbs and eggs. They attempted and failed to crush the garlic in the garlic press. They smelled the soy sauce and ginger powder I added to the mixture, Cubby with relish, Charlie with distaste. Predictably.

And then they got to squish raw meat with their hands. Rad.

They did fairly well rolling the meatballs, although I had a hard time keeping them from smearing raw pork filth all over as they reached into the bowl together and over each other to put the meatballs on the baking pan.

After all the meatballs were made--and after they washed their hands very, very thoroughly--they helped me make the peanut sauce. I've never made peanut sauce before myself, so I used this recipe. They liked helping me mix it together, though neither of them liked the sauce after it was done. It's a little heavier on the soy sauce than I think it should be, but it will be good with the pork, anyway.

And then dinner was mostly done. I got my prep work done, they got to be entertained for ten minutes, and I checked off that guilt-box of cooking with them. For now.

Maybe tomorrow they'll get to peel potatoes.

Be careful what you wish for, kids.


Anonymous said...

My mother never taught me how to cook! Indeed it was a matter of time and precision on her part. So I am happy that Cubby and Charlie are showing some interest. It's an excellent skill to have--particularly for single guys! Mary in MN

Zoe said...

Oh I hear you loud and clear on this one!
I feel bad every time I turn them down but I know my limits and would not be a patient teacher or gracious demonstrator by that time of day. We have 2 weeks of winter school holidays starting Monday so I'm screwing up my courage and patience for some earlier-in-the-day opportunities