a special invitation…young helpers in the kitchen…

I can’t tell you how excited my kids get when I invite them to help me in the kitchen.  In fact, they often beg me to help with anything from mixing to measuring to pouring.  *Ahem.* Pause. This sometimes can backfire on me…and I’ve learned to grab one or two of them when the timing is right.  Two may be playing contently in the other room, and the other two may be looking a little lost, with nothing to do. It’s safer than all of them barreling into the kitchen at the same time…  I mean, who wants a buffalo stampede in their kitchen? 

I’ve started to let my oldest son, Brendan, slap on a pair of hot mitts and remove piping hot dishes from the oven.  I know, I’m a bit of a control freak mom, but I’ve learned to let go just a little.  And, I have to say I am so impressed at his willingness to jump into the kitchen and help – especially with the more “dangerous” things.  Perhaps, he sees an opportunity to show his responsibility and his maturity, his right of passage into a world of more independence.  After all, he’s no longer just a young boy.

OK, he’s a little grossed out by slimy, raw eggs or raw meat, but he’s also learning a lot about food and preparation.  He gets to see what’s involved from reading the recipe, to gathering the ingredients, to measuring and mixing, to baking and sauteing, ultimately, ending up in a plated meal on the table. Oh, and the cleanup and washing dishes part too. Perfect. A wonderful gift to his someday wife.

Dane is my curious culinarian, always making comments… “What animal is this from?” or “Is it spicy?” or “Looks disgusting.” or “mmm. I like that.” or “How do you make lemon juice?”  He loves when I make almond puff pastry and will often talk about it for days prior to me actually making it. (It’s usually a weekend event.) He loves spaghetti squash, salmon, and is always first to try new foods.

Clare is also very curious, especially when I’m making sweets or anything with chocolate. “Can I lick the bowl?” While making an assortment of Christmas cookies this year, she was right at my side, asking to help with anything she could.  We’re still working on cracking eggs.

Eleanor usually likes to perch a top the kitchen step stool, eyes above the counter top, taking in a whole new world. A world not often seen by someone so small. If I’m not looking, I may turn to find a chocolate hand or a nose dusted with flour.

If I want the kids to gather in one spot, all I have to do is start cooking and they usually come running to ask about what smells so good or … not so good.  As I’ve said before, the kitchen is the center of the action in our family.  It’s where family and friends are gathered, conversations are made, board games are played, homework is finished and meals are had.  I want all my kids to grasp and appreciate the lost art of cooking.  To take the time to read recipes and to develop adventurous, diverse palates.  To carry on old traditions and to start new ones.  And, most of all, to cherish the quality time spent with family.

May you all have many fun cooking adventures with your families in 2012 and beyond.

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