Teaching Kids to Cook

September 16, 2010

A food writer friend of mind has been tweeting lately that she’s giving her college-aged daughter a cooking “crash course” as she moves into her first apartment.  And that made me wonder how do people teach their kids to cook?  Do you have them stand beside you on a regular basis, where they observe and take it in?  Do you agree on a dish or two that you will make together?  Do you have them plan meals?  At what age do you let them do their own thing in the kitchen?

I’ve got four children, two boys and two girls.  The girls are 15 and 9 (soon to be 10), and the boys are 16 and 11.  My 9 year old daughter is a baking machine, constantly making cookies, muffins, and the occasional loaf of bread.  She doesn’t do anything overly fancy, but it’s almost always tasty.  She has not, however, done much on the range.

My 16 year old son can make a few things.  He knows how to poach an egg.   He can make a solid, classic alfredo sauce. Oh, and a grilled cheese, too.  But that’s about the extent of his repetoire.

My 15 and 11 year olds, however, don’t cook that much.  My 15 year old daughter can make pasta.  That’s her specialty.  Her only specialty.  My younger son doesn’t really cook at all.

I wonder why my kids don’t cook more often.  Is it because they view me as the cook, where I control the process too much?  Do they have any desire to learn?  Am I too impatient with them?

I want my kids to know how to make some basic dishes by the time they go off to college, and right now, I’ve realized that I haven’t been doing a good job of teaching.  Time for that to change.