Part of the everyday

At ten, she is certainly ready to take part in food planning. Sometimes it is as simple as getting her to come along when we’re shopping for food, and helping decide what we’ll be eating for the week. Or it could be flicking through the myriad cookbooks and food magazines that are scattered throughout our house and finding new things to make.

She decides what fruit goes in her lunch each week – at the moment, it’s a small apple and a juicy mandarin. But she has complete and utter choice, with the understanding that the fruit has to be in season (because I think it’s important for her to realise that as delicious as cherries may be, they are a Summer fruit that should be eaten freshly picked rather than sitting on an aeroplane after having travelled from the northern hemisphere).

She has always been involved in helping out with any baking I am doing – whether it be measuring out ingredients, stirring mixtures, kneading dough, icing cupcakes or decorating the tops of pies.

Having kids in the kitchen is not always an easy thing. We are all time-poor, and frequently, we just want to get in there, make something that will be eaten without fuss (bonus points if it’s healthy, extra bonus points if it looks good), clean up and get out. Kids add time, they add mess and they don’t understand the concept of ‘Quick, quick, I want to get this done so I can go and watch QI.’

Case in point – I can throw the ingredients for a basic cake together and in less than 10 minutes, have it baking, and sit with my feet up, reading a book while it cooks. Add the kid to the mix and suddenly, it’s more like 30 minutes before it gets in the oven. And then the kitchen takes another 30 minutes to tidy up.

But the thing is, as they get more proficient, things do get better. My kid can make absolutely killer scrambled eggs (a deliberate choice because it can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal!). The first time she made them under close supervision, egg shells were all over the place, milk was sloshed on the counter, the eggs were burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pan (perhaps closer supervision was needed?!) and the whole thing took about 30 minutes. Now, she can have perfectly fluffy clouds of scrambled eggs on the table in under 10 minutes – including some buttered toast and cut up cucumber and cherry tomatoes on the side (to make mum happy!). And it’s done with only very minor supervision and significant less mess.

My kid sees me cooking almost every day and she is in the kitchen with me for a lot of that time. Sometimes, she is just sitting at the table chatting with me, other times she is helping, and other times she is putting dishes or ingredients away.

But the kitchen is where it happens and she is always welcome in there and part of the mix. I hope that this is fostering a love of food, an understanding of food preparation and a desire to create and share food. This is how I developed my interest in food and eating. No fuss – just part of the everyday.

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