Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My kitchen rules :)

( my computer is giving me grief tonight and wont let me access todays photos so these have been added from old archives)

Chef Jumeirah at 3 at a local cooking class

"Get out of the kitchen while Im trying to cook!!"

How many times have you yelled it? How many times have you endured another burn in an attempt to avoid someone smaller and very much underfoot getting it??? For me, its countless. But recently I have found a way that the risks are less and the benefits are HUGE.

Since my kids were really little, they have sat up at the kitchen bench and "helped" me in the kitchen. Jumeirah used to pull the bean pods out of the beans at 2, Amahli at 1 sorts the peas from corn in the frozen packet ( although not much of that gets cooked as she eats alot of it :) ) and Jared has become the Jelly King on our house, making at least three desserts of it a week. I found that letting them help me, by sitting at the bench, gets them out from under my feet, keeps them busy and happy, and now they are actually contributing to dinner which helps me too. But more than that, they are learning whats safe and whats dangerous in a kitchen, safe ways to handle knives and other kitchen implements, and HOW TO COOK! Which means in hopefully a short time, I will be the helper ( or perched with a glass of something) whilst they prepare for ME :)

And so, I have been giving them more responsibility. Jumeirah used the "big knife" tonight whilst learning to cut potatoes ( its a tricky thing as they are thick and have a habit of jumping off the bench in our house). Jared used the "middle knife" to cut beans, and shock! horror! in cutting them up, he had to taste them which he hasnt done before.

Here are some ways to start including your kids in the kitchen.

Begin when they are small, most kids just over one will try some much more if they are exposed to it earlier.

A 1yr old can:

sort peas and corn

transfer sultanas between two bowls ( you can even give them tongs to start practising with)

be given a plastic, or unserrated knife to "cut" pieces of bread, soft cooked veggies like potato or sweet potato, or strawberries/ kiwi fruit

be given a mixing bowl to stir up the veggies you are preparing

18 month old Jared at cooking class whipping up the spinach and ricotta

By 3yrs old they can:

cut large semi, cooked veggies into small pieces ( carrot, potato, sweet potato)

Prepare their own fruit platter by cutting up banana, strawberries, grapes with a blunt knife

Can be supervised stirring a stir fry in a wok

Make JELLY!! :) we have made a jelly board with all the steps he needs to do (I do the boiling water bit but he knows how to do the rest)

can help set the table for dinner

Rolling the cannelloni

At 5 yrs old they can:

Cut up veggies ( we talk about cutting beans in half and quarters so its great for maths stuff too) with a sharp knife

Stir in a wok and add veggies and noodles to it ( with supervision)

Add sauces to dishes

Follow simple recipes

Set the table

Help in serving the meal

Jumeirah also loves to decide what we are having for dinner, coming with me to pick the veggies and meat, and even loves to write and decorate a menu.

Hmmmm can you smell it???

As yet, none of them do much with raw meat except for Jumeirah breaking up mince for Spaghetti Bolognaise, but its not far away :)

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