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Apr 18, 2007 12:55 PM

Cooking with kids

My niece is interested in cooking. She's 8. Any favourite recipes you use when cooking with your kids? Any tips on kitchen safety, or should I let her discover the real uses for kitchen implements (under strict guidance naturally)? I'm looking forward to introducing her to lots of interesting new foods and techniques.

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  1. Alton Brown frequently addresses this in his show, Good Eats, on the Food Network. It's on a little late for an eight year old, but you could Tivo or record it for her. I do think there are tools that should be off limits until she's full grown--a chef's knife, for instance. I remember that I loved to bake bread as a kid. The whole process was magical and scientific and fascinating. "Yeast is alive!?!" that sort of idea.

    Good on 'ya for teaching her a valuable, economical life skill when most people don't cook or bake anymore. I am so glad my mother let us make a mess in her kitchen.

    4 Replies
    1. re: amyzan

      Thanks amyzan, she loves to watch cooking shows rather than Saturday cartoons, so I'd like to nurture her interest. She also likes experimenting with different tastes like edamame and strange fruits!

      1. re: amyzan

        I disagree with banning the chef's knife. My friend's daughter learned to use one properly when she was five -- she's not carving a chicken, but she chops herbs she picks from the garden, for example. She is always very careful.

        1. re: sweetpotater

          Your friend's daughter must be unusual developmentally. Children this young do not have the fine motor control, dexterity and strength to use a chef's knife, and should not be given one. I'm sorry, but I can't condone that.

          1. re: amyzan

            I guess it really does depend on the kid's developmental level, yes. I started my daughter (now 14) on her knife skills when she was 8. (Back when I was a Cub Scout leader, I had eight-year-old boys who were carving out their Pinewood Derby cars with knives, so maybe I didn't even think about it vis-a-vis the kitchen) But I did not start her on a large heavy chef's knife. I have a giant affection for the lightweight and sharp Kiwi knives from Thailand. Very nimble and easy to handle (not just for smaller hands, but for, say an arthritic hand). Still my daughter's favorite knife. BUT! if you choose to teach the skill, the supervision and quality of the instruction must be high.

      2. I like the gourmet versions of kid friendly food (like chicken tenders, fish filet, etc). Cooking/Baking is great for math skills! I suggest going to the library & letting her look through some simple cookbooks & choose recipes, that way she is not just limited to what you have/know, and she'll be even more motivated. Hey, she might find something new to you!

        1. My daughter is eight. Right now she loves to mix up pasta when I make a flour well and I put the eggs inside. It's really fun for her to try to mix it up w/out breaking the well. And, she loves using the pasta machine to roll the dough, too. Any kind of dough where you knead is good, especially pizza because they get to stretch it to shape and then make their own. She likes helping out with making cookies (or eating them hot from the oven). Something she can do almost by herself is make rice krispie treats. It's simple but all I need to do is be there and she can almost do the rest (except pouring out the rice krispie mix from the pan). It's nice for them to be able to something with little help.

          1. My granddaughters, 4 & 6 like to scramble eggs, make pancakes( I measure everything out and let them put it together); ice cream (this is really fun- they can help with the mix and dump everything into the freezer and then do the add-ins without hurting themselves). Anything that has to be assembled is fun, like lasagana, enchiladas. When my sons were small I used to sit them on the counter while I cooked and they are both good cooks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: emilief

              This was me... scrambled eggs and almost anything in a pan. That turned into a passion for bread making, and anything that required yeast (loved to watch it come alive) and kneading.

              One of the first recipes I ever cooked for the family was Cornflake Chicken. Simple and just hands on enough to be satisfying at age 6. Aside from eggs, pancakes, french toast, and the like, the other thing I remember making early on was "Toad in Hole," and I just thought it was so cool sliding the egg into that perfect hole.

              There' a great cookbook for kids; I'm' blanking on the name, but it's got a red and white checkerboard background to its cover. Some great simple, easy, and relatively good tasting dishes in it. The best thing about kids interested in cooking is that they are not only food inclined and more adventuresome, but they're more likely to taste b/c they've made it themselves and want to prove how great it is.

            2. Whem my husband was about 8, his mom bought him a cookbook for children. The recipes are basic, but items they can do with little assistance (a nice complement to the more advanced things y'all can do together). Now, at 31, he still has the little cookbook. It sits proudly on the shelf next to our Joy of Cooking and Le Gastronomique. And, I adore my MiL for creating a wonderful man who is an excellent cook!