For my very first Eagan foodie blog, I thought I would share the joy of cooking with children. Nikhil, who is 3, is grating fresh nutmeg. When I cook at home, both my boys are in the kitchen with me. Starting at a young age, 4 months, we had them smell, taste and touch many of the ingredients we cooked. What does a lemon smell like? How pungent is ginger? How knobby is a celery root? Everyone has watched a baby pucker when licking a sour lemon or lime for the first time. In my Indian kitchen, there are so many spices from the common thyme to the exotic amchur powder (mango powder). The kids get to lick or smell all of it. Obviously, no one is sniffing or licking pepper or chili.
There is great joy in teaching kids to appreciate how food is prepared, the variety available to us, the unique flavors and tastes to explore. As they grow up, these food memories will guide them to years of good healthy cooking and eating.
We teach them how to measure, mathematical fractions and the basics of cooking. At 7, my older son can chop with supervision, but we have not used the stove as yet. My 3 year old is the mixer. We always wash our hands before starting to touch food. They always have an adult watching what is happening. Hot pots, sharp knives or other hazards are closely guarded. Cooking with children is a necessary life skill and I encourage you to involve your kids in the kitchen to help them become great chefs as they get older.
Several websites can be found but this one has some great guidelines. http://extension.usu.edu/Morgan/files/uploads/Cooking%20with%20children%201.pdf