When my son was two, that Christmas the Hubs and I got him this great wooden kitchen from Little Tykes. He loved playing with the pots and pans and liked stocking his pantry with old empty (and cleaned out) containers of milk, eggs and butter. He would make and bring me crazy play sandwiches that had ham, cheese, pickles, eggs, bacon, tomatoes and hamburger patties on toast or some type of soup concoction that he said was made up of dinosaurs. He played with his little kitchen everyday for a good six months until he dropped his apron and picked up the checkered flag for anything Lightning McQueen, Monster Jam Trucks and Hot Wheels-related. Sadly, I thought his cooking days were over.
Now my son is five years old and lately when I go into the kitchen he’s asked if he can help cook something. I’m not one to turn down an offer of help around the house so last week while my boy was waiting for his turn in the bath, he helped me prep the ingredients for the dinner I was going to make for his daddy and myself. It was boneless pork chops with balsamic roasted figs and a side of quinoa (YUM!). As I read off the list of ingredients, my boy dutifully went to the cupboard or fridge to get out what we needed and placed them neatly in a row up on the kitchen counter. He helped me season the meat and cut the figs and he also helped me with measuring out the olive oil and chicken broth. He whined a little when it was his turn in the bath because he wasn’t going to be able to finish making the meal with me. Since he was genuinely helpful, I promised him that together we would cook an entire meal over the weekend.
He was excited to help mom out in the kitchen. We looked through a cookbook for a recipe that we could make together. Since this was going to be his first real meal, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. We decided on seared chicken breasts with chimichurri sauce plus some oven roasted veggies and a side of Israeli couscous. After two trips to our local supermarket for ingredients (oops, I forgot to defrost the chicken breasts, so I had to go and get some fresh ones!) we were ready to cook.
Mommy’s little sous chef…he can help me anytime in the kitchen.
My boy was very diligent. He helped me lightly oil the sliced veggies (squash and zucchini) and season them with salt & pepper. He helped peel the garlic and onion, de-stem the oregano, parsley and basil and measure out the lemon juice, white wine vinegar and olive oil for the chimichurri sauce. He helped me pound out the chicken breasts to an even thickness and dredge them in flour before cooking in the frying pan. He also helped me make some chicken broth from bouillon cubes for the couscous. He was a great listener and never once lost his enthusiasm for or attention span in making the meal, which took about an hour. He truly had a hand in making every dish that made it onto the dinner table that night.
It was a delicious meal that The Hubs and I truly enjoyed. My son kept asking if we liked the food, and proudly told his dad and little sister every detail of what he did to bring this meal to the table. My only wish is that I could have gotten him to eat even one bite of it…instead of eating this luscious meal, he opted for a PB&J sandwich and some corn.
I told him that he could help me anytime in the kitchen, and he’s already asking what we can make together this week. Look out Bobby Flay, I may just have ignited the pilot light under the next Food Network star chef!
Now it’s your turn to share. What is your favorite meal to cook with your kids?
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