An Experiment

With Patrick turning 15, it suddenly made me realize that I’ve done my kids a great disservice by not teaching them how to cook for themselves, or even do things like laundry.

The truth is that I just do these things on my own because I have for so long, and it’s easier and quicker and less frustrating if I just do it and not have them get in the way. But that was the problem in my thinking: they’re in the way if they help if they don’t know what they’re doing.

So I hatched this idea–an experiment, but one that they seem to have embraced, where we choose a food they want to learn how to cook: any food, mind you, so at least they can learn the basics of ingredients, using the stove or oven, using pans, etc. The first two times, we’ll make the food together. The third time, they do it themselves with me watching and helping only when asked. Once we pass those three times, then we move on to another dish. The key to this is to choose things that they want to eat so that they’ll learn the process and the basics of cooking, and then we can build on that as their tastes increase or the curiosity gets stronger.

The kids enthusiastically chose some things they wanted to learn. There were some surprises, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Hannah and Zoe wanted to learn to make peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles. Patrick wanted to learn to cook burgers.

He started the experiment tonight. Tomorrow we’ll get to the girls.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by Patrick jumping in to making burgers. This is a kid who, I’m reasonably certain, has never touched raw meat up until this evening. So having him jump right in and mix the meat (we make two kinds of burgers in our household: beef and turkey), and form the patties and cook them was pretty impressive. And even better, everyone was supportive and appreciative of his effort in making dinner–especially me. And…It turned out very well.

I’m trying to appeal to the scientific, black-and-white side of his brain in this project: telling him why the fries bubbled so vigorously in the oil, how to test the doneness of the meat with the instant-read thermometer (he loved my thermometer–best thing ever, thanks mom!), and how to listen to the cooking to know what the food is doing.

The bonus for the day is that he even wants to learn how to make the no-knead bread I’ve been making. I made it for the second time today, and it came out so much better than the first. And Patrick is a great connoisseur of bread. Once he learned it’s easy to make, he asked if he can help and learn. I jumped right on that one, so we’ll mix up tomorrow’s dough batch here in just a few minutes. I’m really excited about this.

Maybe I’ll post a picture of the baker and his bread tomorrow…And the girls with their cookies, which, they pointed out, will be just in time for school.

See you tomorrow.

2 Replies to “An Experiment”

  1. Peggy Lathrop says:

    congrats to everyone!!!! That includes Paul too.

  2. Peggy Lathrop says:

    congrats to everyone!!!! That includes Paul too.

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