EVERYDAY COOKING WITH KIDS

I love cooking and eating and the most rewarding reflections of that love are in the expressions on my kids’ faces when they cook and eat. They’ve both helped me in the kitchen since they were barely two. And because they find everything interesting and exciting they’ve helped me discover that if I think along with them, then everything can be exciting everyday. They make my mealtimes magical. I'll share what I've learnt in my Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary...

My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

On this website, I have written a little dairy that relates to each recipe, you can read about my fatherly worries, triumphs, mistakes and confusion when I wrote EVERYBODY EVERYDAY.  The diary entries are included in the extras for each recipe. 

 

Note to readers For the chicken breast, pesto and lamb shoulder chapters as well as the main roast duck recipe, My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary entries are less diary-like than the others. This is because I wrote these as a series of tasting notes to go into the book's recipe introductions before I decided to write the fuller dairies with this website in mind. I will add to them all as time goes on. 

 

To save you having to sift through them I’ve also got lists of jobs that young kids can do for every recipe under the heading of Practical Playtime.

Practical Playtime

On this website I give you a list of jobs that kids can do for each recipe in EVERYBODY EVERYDAY, under the heading of Practical Playtime. I call it Practical Playtime because I can be with my boys in the kitchen and have dinner ready at the end of it. It doesn’t need to be for long; you can make a lot of memories in five minutes a day and often it’s the best five minutes of mine. Remember, little things can be great fun.

Little things can be great fun

Both Jake and Casey desperately wanted to cut two chunks of butter with butter knives to stuff into the chicken for roasting on pages 229-230 and were delighted when they did. James loves weighing the pasta for the pasta pilaf on page 97. It can be the tiniest thing that will get kids more interested in what they eat.

Get kids interested in what they eat

I know how annoying it is to be preached at as a parent, and I know that nothing works every day, so I just want to share the practical things I’ve learnt so far. The only thing that I'm certain of, for kids of all ages, is that if you get them involved with cooking they'll be more interested in what they eat. If my boys are doing something else they sometimes pop into the kitchen just to ask what's in the saucepans and in the oven. I ALWAYS show them. This is the easiest sort of encouragement and often leads to a conversation about why we eat some things and not others. When they were tiny, I sat them on the worktop in my small galley kitchen and put bowls and vegetables in their laps. Now they have little stools so they can reach the worktop themselves. We’ve peeled, weighed, whisked, measured, mashed, stirred and spilt together and while we’ve done that we’ve been together instead of being apart. That's how I think about everyday cooking with kids.

What is everyday cooking with kids? 

To make this idea practical I want to redefine what it means to cook with kids. It's not only about making brightly decorated cupcakes once a month, (although this is huge fun). Everyday cooking with kids is about buttering bread, blending or smelling a tomato, squeezing a lemon, picking a herb, grinding pepper, measuring liquids. I've been enchanted by how much my three love clanking measuring spoons, peeling vegetables or grating cheese with a guiding hand. Since they've taught me that this is all fun, I've learnt that I don't need to plan every time I want my kids to cook with me. It all starts with your shopping.

It all starts with the shopping

Get your kids to help you chose the vegetables in the shop or supermarket; to squeeze, smell and talk about the different fruits as you go along. James started eating green beans after a shopping trip when he chose them at the supermarket. Involve them in the choices you make. Unpack the shopping together, talk about the ingredients. Get the kids to guess where each one gets put away, which vegetable grows above or below ground, what fruit grows on trees or vines... 

Never give up

Just like adults, some days kids don’t want to eat sensibly. So just give everyone a day off and eat some cheese on toast. But I’ve learnt that it’s best never to do it two days in a row – the habits we least want to hook kids on become habits the most quickly. I’ve learned never to stop trying and I’ve learned never to force kids to eat something, but if they don’t eat their dinner I never give them other food afterwards. It's very hard to stick to that. I haven't got all the answers, but aspiring to help kids love cooking and eating good food gives them great skills for life. It also gives them a way to find joy in the everyday and enjoyment in the unavoidable. Take any opportunity to turn the shopping, unpacking, cooking that you have to do into practical playtime with kids. The memories you make will linger long after each meal is eaten. Then when you have a little time, and you can, make a creamy cupcake and lick the spoons together. 


The photos on this page are taken by us (Alex and Jess) on my phone. Excuse the quality and enjoy the emotions! 

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