cooking with kids

My Life With A Celebrity Chef (Age 5)

March 8, 2012 at 1:06 am , by

“If you speak to me disrespectfully one more time, you will not be allowed to cook for a week,” I told my son in my best dispassionate, Dirty Harry “Go ahead, make my day” voice. His babysitter, who was on the way out the door, shot me a “WTF” look. I was threatening a 5-year-old with the terrible punishment of not being allowed to cook dinner for a week? Were we in Bizarro World?

Um, I guess so. I don’t know—it’s just the way things are these days at my house. My kindergartner has always loved to cook (check out the video of him making pancakes at age 1 and my blog post about his surprisingly good radish soup), but lately he’s become downright obsessed. And more than that, Scott’s suffering from, shall we say, a slight overabundance of self-esteem? It’s like I’ve suddenly become Bill Buford, author of the wonderful memoir Heat, which is about spending a year working in Mario Batali’s kitchen, getting schooled—and yelled at—by the famous chef. Scott, of course, is Batali.

“Most kids my age don’t know how to cook, but I’ve practiced a lot so I can,” he’ll say proudly. “That’s right,” I’ll reply, watching as he expertly cracks and scrambles eggs or slices up some potatoes with a disposable plastic knife and sautées them in olive oil with garlic, fresh herbs and a touch of freshly ground black pepper. (His idea.) But then I’ll come up against his inner Batali. I’ll give him some basic guidance or I’ll hand him an ingredient, and he’ll rebuke me: “Mom. I’M THE CHEF. Chefs don’t have people helping them!” Oh my goodness, the tone! I tell him that real chefs actually DO have lots of people helping them. And that he is not to speak that way to his mother. What I don’t tell him is that real chefs often have the same imperious attitude. They’re just a little older and wield a lot more financial power over their kitchen companions.

Night before last he had a bit of a come-uppance. Read more

Teach Your Children Well (because your words may come right back at you!)

November 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm , by

“No, I don’t wanna have radish soup, it sounds yucky!”

I’m sorry to report that was me, talking to my five-year-old son—not vice-versa.

Granted, I was a bit tired. It was the end of the day on a Sunday, after a weekend that was nonstop activity. Our last outing had been to a healthy food event at a local public school. My friend Jen is a big advocate of local and sustainable food, and she’d invited us to join her and her kids to the event, featuring a performance by her uncle Tom Chapin, a singer who was debuting his new kids’ album, Give Peas a Chance, all about healthy eating. There would be exhibitions about making veggie smoothies, composting and raising chickens in your backyard.  I figured it would be a fun outing with good music (it was), the boys would have fun playing, and maybe Scott would learn stuff. But me? I’m already an adventurous eater, well-versed in healthy options, I thought. I read “Chick Lit,” this month’s LHJ article on backyard chickens. My mom’s been composting forever. I had nothing to learn.

Enter the radishes. (For more of the story and an easy recipe, read on.)

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Guest Blogger: Catherine McCord of Weelicious

January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm , by

Catherine McCord, the face of, was kind enough to guest post for us today. She shares her thoughts and helpful tips for using a slow-cooker to whip up family meals, which is especially useful during this cold season. Weelicious is a site dedicated to recipes and cooking advice for busy people who want to keep their families well fed and healthy, including the littlest ones — she’s a resource to busy moms everywhere!

When I was growing up, I had dinner with my entire family every Sunday night. It’s a tradition that I continue with my own kids. But that doesn’t mean that mom cooks while everyone else sits around playing or watching. I get everyone involved. From cleaning and chopping the veggies to mixing, stirring and pouring, when everyone takes part in the preparing of the meal, it makes the whole process of cooking so much more enjoyable and it is truly what puts the “family” in family dinner.

One of our favorite new recipes is this Slow-Cooker Lentil-Veggie Stew (recipe after the jump). After a leisurely Sunday morning at our local farmer’s market, picking out beans, vegetables and all kinds of fresh toppings for the soup,  my husband, our kids and I head home to work as a team and put dinner together. I find that the more I involve my kids in the process of cooking, the more excited they become about eating the foods we make. And since there are so many family things we want to accomplish on Sunday, I always focus on meals that are easy. Around noon we simply dump all of the ingredients into “mom’s best friend in the kitchen,” the slow cooker, and then head out for an afternoon of family fun. At 5:30pm, we all sit down together, take fresh bread out of our bread maker, ladle some of this healthy, hearty stew into colorful bowls and then everyone gets to top theirs off with a dollop of herbed goat cheese as a finishing touch.

If you’ve never used one, slow cookers can make cooking and cleanup about as painless as it gets. And don’t forget, whenever you’re making anything in the slow cooker, double the recipe so you have plenty to freeze or keep as leftovers for the next few days when you’re running around and don’t have time to cook — something I know most moms can relate to. Who says cooking has to be time consuming and boring? It never is when everyone has a job and gets to be part of the fun. To me, there’s no better way to eat as a family.

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Cooking With Your Kids

July 8, 2010 at 9:04 am , by

Sophia - pizzaThere are a few things I’m good at, but cooking is not one of them. So, what do I do with a kid who says she wants to be a chef when she grows up?

Somehow, we manage to have a great time in the kitchen. We wear matching aprons and use princess spatulas. We make a lots of brownies, cookies, and cakes from box mixes. And we spend way too much time on the decorating part—see our Ariel birthday cake for evidence of that. (Another Erneta family fun activity is getting store-bought cookies and decorating them with frosting.)

Recently on a trip to my parents’ house, my mom got a few Boboli pizza crusts and the kids (both of them, the 2yr old included!) had a blast making pizza. Their sense of pride was enormous as everyone complimented the chefs.

I asked our savvy Food Editor, Tara Bench, for some tips on getting your kids in the kitchen and she had lots of great ideas. She told me, “Anything that they can layer or build feels like a big treat for them.” That must be why Sophia loved helping me make lasagna. Tara also recommends sandwiches, tacos and fruit kabobs for more layering fun. Some other great cooking ideas for kids: peanut butter cookies (kids love mixing and they’ll like making marks with a fork), no-bake cheesecake (so fun to press in a graham cracker crust),  and easy drop cookies. Pancakes and puddings can be fun too—just reserve the hot stove part for bigger kids only. Happy cooking!

So, tell me: What do you cook with your kids?