There has really been something weighing on my heart lately, cooking with my kids- or rather the recent lack there of. The last few weeks (or perhaps months) I have been cooking with my kids less and less. They still ask, but I have been saying no. Ugh. Forget looking back when they are grown and regretting this, I am nearly in tears thinking of all the times I have shewed them away lately.
We went to go see the movie 100 foot journey, and one of my favorite parts was the main character talking about cooking with his mom. My kids really love cooking with me, but lately I have not taken the time for them. I have been going from one thing to another as I look at my editorial calendar and yet another failed version of recipes X, Y, and Z.
See, my kids love cooking. I know most kids do too, but Christopher used to wake me up with the plea “let’s make something YUMMY!” and after we went on vacation the first thing Natalia did the next morning was ask to cook. They hang on my every word as I talk about spices, how to salt, and show them how to pick out great produce. Their little eyes light up.
I knew it was getting out of hand, especially with the help of my favorite instagram feed “Real Food With Kids” but what really brought it home the other day was I asked Valerie if she would like to help me cook eggs for daddy before he left for work. At fourteen months old, the idea excited her so much she bounced up and down on my hip. She watched with fascination as the eggs turned from liquid to fluffy bits. Then she gave Mark his fork with adorably extreme pride (I decided to carry the plate of eggs myself).
Why was I not letting my kids and myself the joy of this? Why had I let the crazy business come before the joy of cooking with my kids? And of greater importance, them cooking with me?
Over the next day we spent hours prepping food together at our dinning room table. I showed them how to snap green beans, one of my favorite jobs growing up. I emphasized about 10 times that YOU CAN NOT bite off the ends *cough Christopher*. I showed them which green beans were bad and not worth preparing. A task I take for granted, they thoroughly enjoyed learning.
There is little that lets you appreciate the world around you, then seeing a child experience something new.
A particular challenge for them was stemming and slicing mushrooms, but they worked hard to learn. Upon completion they were both very excited, especially Natalia “Thank you mommy!” “For what?” “Showing me how to cut mushrooms!”
Valerie and I peeled an onion together. I started taking of the peel and she finished ripping it off. With each piece of peel she stared at her handiwork and then showed me. (Though, now all onions and garlic are not safe from her peel ripping hands).
The few minutes I save here and there from not letting them help… compared to little eyes filled with wonder.
I want my kids to know how to cook, I want them to know they are worth me taking the time to teach them. I want them to smile with pride as they excitedly exclaim “we did ALL THOSE SHRIMP!” I want them to experience, real fresh foods. To know how to tell if a broccoli will be bitter of sweet. To know “real” herbs and spices beyond bottles of dried/ground versions. When they are out of this house, I want them to know beyond a doubt how to prepare and cook real, natural, fresh, healthy foods.
When I tell them no, I save a few minutes. When I invite them in, I get to live a few minutes with precious little people.
Food should be enjoyed with friends and family. Not just eating it, but cooking too. Some of the best fellowship I have ever had has been in the kitchen while cooking. You learn from each other, tell stories, and laugh a bit. Then everyone sits down to a community prepared meal.
While, the conversations (and help) is definitely more limited with kids the fellowship is there. The fact that these little kids are of astronomical importance to me is there. The desire for them to enjoy good food, and no how to prepare it it is there. Wide eyed wonder as they see food transform in a pot, or taste foods at various levels of seasoning is there. And it is a beautiful thing indeed. One I never want again to let the business of life snuff out.
I would like to end this post by giving another shout out to Real Food With Kids, that blog/instagram feed has been such a blessing to me as I remember the importance and step back into teaching my kids to cook. If taking the time to cook with kids, and teach them about it, is a struggle for you too I am sure you will likewise be blessed by it.