Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Fun: Kids in the Kitchen Edition

Because I'm out of school for the summer, I have some uninterrupted time to play Mommy again, full-time. What a privilege! During spring, I made all sorts of plans in anticipation. One thing I did was make a calendar for each of the summer months so I could make the best use of our time. First, I plugged in all the Scout Camps, Girls Camp, Youth Conference, Boy Scout hikes, and the summer visit with Dad. Then I could see just what I had left, and with that, I made some Plans.

We're on a very tight budget around here, but there is still much fun to be had. Beach days, library days, some science projects, and local field trips. But I'm a homeschooling mom at heart, having had one or all of my kids home for eleven years, so some learning adventures always seem to creep in. One big goal I have as a mother is to make sure that each of my children is competent in the kitchen. Easier said than done, to be sure. But this year, I decided to do something my own mother used to do: assign each child a night of the week to make dinner. They also get another night of the week to make a treat. (Because, please, what good is dinner without dessert?) On their assigned nights, they get to look through the cookbooks and cooking blogs and pick out something to make, and then I will get them whatever they need for the job. So far, it's been a smashing success, and so much fun.

Of course I want my kids to be able to cook--not just from a mix or a box--but I have another agenda too. Self-esteem comes from learning new things. We feel good about who we are when we tackle something new or difficult or uncomfortable and find out that we can do more than we thought we could! Teenagers are in dire need of this kind of esteem-building. Too often they are trapped in the faulty world of their worth coming from what they wear or who will text/chat with/make out with them. Creating a nourishing meal for others in the kitchen is a great boredom buster and self-esteem booster. I promise.

Aiden chose to make tacos on his dinner night. Just look at how thrilled he is!

Dylan got his feet wet with Rice Krispie treats for our Family Home Evening treat.

You can see how ridiculously happy he is!

Lyndsay is a pro in the kitchen. She's been by my side for so many years, and now she is super-capable. Her husband will be a lucky man. In so many ways. But she chose to try a new recipe, Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan (and Pine nuts--that's a lot of Ps!) and marinated, grilled zucchini. Here she is making her pesto.

Peas frozen from our garden!

I don't have the best camera for photographing food, but this was a seriously tasty dish. The recipe is here. I'm tucking this one in the files for an excellent vegetarian dish for when my dad visits.

Tonight was Dylan's dinner night. He looked through Pioneer Woman's cookbook and chose Chicken Fried Steak and Mashed Potatoes. He would. I was worried the task would be too daunting for him, but look how he handles the mixer with confident ease.

He fries up those steaks like nobody's business. (Although the hot oil was a little scary to him.)

He added some steamed carrots from the garden, and voila! It looks like a real dinner!

Look how proud he is! See what I mean?

Seriously, this is so great! Of course, now Dylan's talking about how he won Iron Chef, Season 4, so you can see how his self-esteem has really taken flight.

And I gotta say, my favorite things to eat are: THINGS OTHER PEOPLE COOK.

We all win.


Andrea said...

I love it. What age do you think is good to start this? My kids always help me, but I look forward to letting them choose a night. Great idea!

Jenna said...

Well, helping at any age is a very good thing. Aiden, my youngest of the "Big Three", pictured first browning the taco meat, is 10. Lyndsay was quite capable at that age too, following simple recipes. It sounds silly, but I like to start them on brownie mixes at very young ages. Only because I almost never use cake mixes, but I can stand brownie mixes and the kids feel like they're cooking something big.

Braden Bell said...

I love what you said about self-esteem coming from actually learning to do something. That is so true--and often overlooked!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Dang you're brilliant. Think my six and four year old are too young for this but I so want to do it. Now.

Patience, Kim. Patience.

Saint Holiday said...

Soon they'll have so much confidence, they'll be able to name their dishes, too, like their dear, old grandfather. You guys are the best ever.