It’s natural (and some might argue necessary) for humans to search for silver linings during times that try the spirit. This is one of our unique gifts as a species, that even in the midst of despair we seek out sweet moments to steady us, to keep us going through doubt and uncertainty.
One of the silver linings of our current historical moment is that it’s forced us to slow down and (hopefully) reevaluate some of what we may have prioritized in the past. Things that may have been all-consuming have dwindled in their significance. Things we may have taken for granted have come galloping to the forefront. Time itself is moving differently. There is so much more of it, and yet it seems all the more precious. And while stay-in-place has presented a myriad of challenges for parents and families, it has also presented families with a (previously unimaginable) scenario: An unforeseen amount of time at home with each other without all the regular trappings of modern life. No school. No organized sports. No afternoons at the mall. No family dinners out. No getting away from each other, for better or for worse. And as we all know at this point some days are certainly better than others.
So, what’s to be done with all this extra time? What can a parent do to make memories for their kids in the midst of all this madness? It’s this author’s opinion that when in doubt, the answer is always: Food. Lot’s of it. Fresh, homemade, enjoy-at-the-table food. Easily-prepared, eat-in-the backyard-on-a-picnic-blanket food. Even the old frozen-pizza-on-the-couch for a family movie night is an important chance to share food and quality time with your kids. Food is comfort, and comfort (among other things) is what we need right now. And what better time to expand your children’s confidence in the kitchen than during the present moment? In a country where one in three university students doesn’t know how to boil an egg, be the parent that sends their kid off to college knowing how to make a killer omelet. Don’t like to cook yourself? Well, maybe it’s time to learn a few simple dishes you can enjoy with your family while the restaurants are closed down. Cooking at home is cheaper, healthier, and a life-skill that will serve your children well into adulthood.
In an earlier phase of my teaching career I taught “international cooking” classes to children ages 4-11. As you can imagine, this was a very silly job. The difference between what a pre-Kindergarten kid and one that is nearly a middle-schooler can do in the kitchen is quite vast. To have 6-20 kids of various ages together in one commercial kitchen was a recipe for disaster. I might have one to three kids who could actually read a recipe and six that wanted to spend the entire time putting black olives on their finger tips and dancing around in the ingredients they had (purposely) spilled. But kids love cooking. And EVERYONE loves eating something they have spent time (and olives) cooking. Not every kid is able to chop harder vegetables. Put them in charge of measuring flour. Not every kid is even able to measure flour. Let them play with it. The kitchen can be as much a place of connection and creativity as any classroom, and there is nothing more wonderful than working on a family recipe with the next generation. This is the gift of time we’ve been given: Teach your kids to cook.
Below are a few sites I think are great for kid-friendly cooking lessons. I think the Tasty site is absolutely wonderful for both kids and adults because it’s simple and streamlined. They have Tasty videos for adults and they have Tasty Junior for the kids.