Recently my son asked if he could cook dinner. By himself. And make up the recipe. By himself. Alone. With no help from me..... I said no. (bad, bad mommy!)
Eli is 7 1/2 and is a wonderful, sweet, caring boy full of amazing, interesting ideas, but he has never cooked. He's never even shown an interest in what I was cooking. But, instead of just sticking with my knee-jerk "No" I took some time to ask him what he wanted to make and why. He told me he wanted to make soup. And he wanted to do it to be able to help around the house because I am always doing everything. [Insert mommy guilt and melting heart here] So, I gave my sweet boy a hug, and sat him down with a piece of paper and asked him to write out the things he wanted in his soup. I helped a bit with spelling and ideas for a few ingredients (like "soup needs to have a broth of some kind, what do you think would be good?") and here was what he came up with:
The next day we headed to the grocery store with our recipe in hand and picked up all the items we needed. I suggested he add a noodle of some type and some beans. He picked out super cool wagon wheel pasta and kidney beans. We also picked up some fresh bakery bread for sandwiches to accompany the meal. When we got home I put my youngest down for a nap, sat the middle child down for quiet time and had my first cooking lesson with my oldest. He peeled carrots, chopped veggies, measured, cooked, and stirred. He did it all himself... with some guidance on my part, but HE did it. I will be honest, he did great. I had to hold back on my admonitions a few times and let him learn by trying, which is really really hard for me! I helped him learn to hold the (very sharp) kitchen knife, how to position his fingers that were holding the veggies so he didn't lose a digit, and how long to boil the pasta and veggies before letting the soup simmer. Other than that, he made the meal from start to finish on his own. He was SO proud of the soup and couldn't wait to eat dinner that night.
Pairing his soup, the sandwiches and some sweet, ripe strawberries made a perfect summer meal for our first school night of the year. The soup really was delicious. Even my super picky daughter gobbled up every bite. It made me realize that I don't have to churn out complicated, elaborate meals to make something everyone will like. I think this may be a start of something very good for our family.