Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Diversification and control

I've been trying to find simple recipes that my kids can cook (with assistance) that will serve the dual purpose of diversifying what they will eat and increasing their cooking skills. I've printed out recipes from blogs, checked out kids' cookbooks from the library and asked if there are any favorite recipes that I make that they want to learn how to cook.

It didn't really take off. They certainly didn't feel motivated to do research to pick out new recipes (it doesn't help that most of my cookbooks are in storage while we are doing our house construction) and on the few times they did, the cooking skills required were too complicated or dangerous. I'm not ready for them to be hauling homemade pizza out of a 500 degree oven (they do help roll out dough and top it) and they don't have the patience to slowly stir a white sauce until it thickens enough to add cheese. So it was a struggle and they weren't participating fully. Not a winner of a combination.

But I've found what I think will be the perfect tool for both diversification, kid-selection (very important for these two who need to feel like they've chosen a recipe instead of having it imposed upon them) and simple enough cooking skills:

I got a free subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (through a program called Recycle Bank that my town has just recently discontinued. I found out that you can use your Recycle Bank points to get free magazine subscriptions and this was one of them.)

This is the perfect magazine for food-suspicious kids with limited patience and cooking skills. Every recipe has a photo. Every recipe is short (none more than one page). And pretty much every recipe requires only basic cooking skills--no complicated techniques, no obscure equipment or ingredients.

I got the first issue, explained to the kids that they each had to pick out one "real food" recipe (no snacks or desserts) that they thought they could make with my help for a family dinner. They turned the pages of the magazine warily at first, but then they were squabbling about who got to hold it and my hopes lifted.  The girl picked out a recipe for garlic lemon pork. The boy picked out a basic ground meat taco recipe.

The boy even marked two additional recipes (one for a snack and one for a dessert) that he wants to help make and I am thrilled that he is voluntarily suggesting more cooking because even the unhealthy recipes expand his limited cooking skills. Hell, I first got motivated in the kitchen making cookies, brownies, pancakes, etc. I sure didn't start with the motivation of making spinach quinoa pilaf...

I'm hoping that since the magazine will be delivered to us every month it will keep us consistent with this project: every month I'll hand over the magazine and every month they'll pick out some new stuff to try and cook. I'll report back.

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