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Teen Cooking

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gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 12:32 PM

The time has come for my daughter to learn how to cook. She is eager and has an affinity for various cultures and a well developed palate. We reside in Chicago and while there are a few options commercially, most are geared towards adults and not for the older teen cook. I would really like to give her a solid foundation and would appreciate any suggestions you can offer on books, classes, techniques that would be suitable for a beginner (17 yrs). Thanks in advance!

  1. h
    hungry_pangolin Apr 25, 2008 07:53 AM

    This might be of some use:

    http://www.samstern.co.uk/

    A bit simple, but, OTOH, it's an informal, and unintimidating, introduction to the kitchen by someone your daughter's age.

    1. g
      gabby29 Jan 8, 2008 04:42 PM

      I really appreciate all the feedback. She was a little apprehensive at first but understands the necessity of being able to feed oneself. Now the project is taking shape and she will assist when possible when I'm preparing meals and also has the option of making desserts. The latter has grabbed her attention. As the months pass I will delegate more responsibility to her. In this way she will be able to stock a pantry, select quality foods/fruits/etc., and prepare delicious meals of various levels of time and difficulty. Thankfully we are within walking distance to the farmers market and it will provide another source of education and experiences for her when the new season arrives.

      1. h
        hungry_pangolin Jan 8, 2008 07:13 AM

        All the above a very good suggestions. I also love the image of Moots and his son at prep.

        I don't know whether it's still in print, but if you can find Cooking in Colour, it's a great book for the beginner. I bought a copy almost 25 years ago, and still occasionally use it. There are many things to recommend this book. Every recipe has a colour photo of the final product: very useful for the beginner. There is a great range of techniques. There's a nice variety of styles. There are traditional, stick-to-your-ribs recipes and some that are pretty elegant. It's a very good book from which to learn and build confidence.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hungry_pangolin
          g
          gabby29 Jan 8, 2008 04:46 PM

          I have been subject to some of her ramen experiences and poor Starbucks choices! Nonetheless she's adventurous and eager to create Asian cuisine so we should have some interesting dinner nights. I will look for the book. I know Williams-Sonoma does something similar with most of the books they offer that are usually on clearance at Borders. At present I have several books on techniques including Jacques, James Peterson, and Le Cordon Bleu, but I'm always open to other options.

        2. d
          Diane in Bexley Jan 8, 2008 05:52 AM

          Haveing 2 DDs ages 16 & 20, I can relate to your situation. Necessity seems to be the mother of invention or at least determination. Both girls would be perfectly content never to life a finger in the kitchen, but as they have ventured out into the world on their own, they have discovered that it is very convenient to know how to cook and if you are going to cook and love to eat, you should learn to cook well. The older daughter will be spending this summer sharing an apartment in Boston during an internship, and paying more attention to food buying/budgeting, preparation, stocking a pantry, etc.

          Try very hard not to be judgmental of teens' efforts or palette. While mine have not taken formal courses in cooking, they like to experiment with cuisines and foods, some of which turn out OK and some of which our dog ends up eating (he is not a CH!).

          When we lived in the Chicago area, Treasure Island, a local grocery store chain, offered great basics like knife technicques, simple recipe preparation, etc. Their store in Lake Bluff also had a demonstration kitchen you could rent for special occasions. I seem to recall Sunset Foods in the northern suburbs did something similar. With the influx of TJs, Fox & Obel, Sur La table, surely there are other options as well.

          Set aside a night or two when your teen can plan, shop, and prepare the family meal. It has been a great eye opener for my kids, not just as to learning how to cook, but how to run a household, stock a pantry, have staples on hand, etc. Good Luck!

          1. sixelagogo Jan 8, 2008 02:29 AM

            One of my cooking teens went to a culinary boot camp at the culinary school in chicago (starts with a K?) during the summer. It was a one-week program including lodging and he was able to take basic culinary skills and a baking and pastry class. He loved it and has recommend it to other students.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sixelagogo
              LaLa Jan 8, 2008 04:21 AM

              My grandmothers started teaching me when I would stay with them when I was little. By the time I was in Jr High I had pretty much taken over the kitchen three to four nights a week. My dad was so sad when I went away to school...because I was no longer there to cook! My Mom is a good cook, she just doesn't enjoy it.

              1. re: sixelagogo
                g
                gabby29 Jan 8, 2008 04:36 PM

                You're speaking of the program at Kendall. I attempted to find others who were familiar with the program. They offer a short class during the year and I believe the summer camp will be offered again. If he's a baking aficionado you might consider the baking camp at the French Pastry School. They do amazing things over there.

              2. bards4 Jan 7, 2008 06:14 PM

                My 14 year old son is on his way to becoming a fine cook, so as a Chanukah gift, my husband and I are sending him to cooking classes at Sur La Table. They offer classes just for teens (a sushi class!) but they also said that they would allow him to come to one of the other classes if I accompanied him. He was VERY excited about the classes. If you have a Sur La Table in your area that offers cooking classes, that may be a fun thing to do with your daughter.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bards4
                  g
                  gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 07:39 PM

                  What a wonderful gift! Our local Sur La Table is within walking distance and doesn't offer many teen classes. But I will inquire about her taking the adult classes or helping out when she becomes more proficient. Thanks for the suggestion.

                2. coastie Jan 7, 2008 05:05 PM

                  i was working full time in the summers in a kitchen on the line at 17 - she is capable of anything!! I think knife skills course is fantastic idea - if there is a sauce class in the area and or a good nutrition class either or both would be good. Undertsanding your food nutritionally and vitamins etc is a great life skill.
                  My daughter likes to recreate things she's eaten out and enjoyed.
                  The other tough one is watching the mistakes happen, I must let my daughter do it her way sometimes , even if I know there is no way it will taste good or chemically work....when she bakes - not exactly the place for creativity in the recipe . Thats tough on a 16 yr old - but a couple of failures later they are reading the recipe thru and checking it for ingredients and procedure before they start.
                  Another great idea and I have my daughter working on one is a family recipe book - she'll be going to college or whatever soon abd hopefully want to recreate some of the family favorites. Have her identify things she really likes to cook that you do and make the recipes with her while she writes down what to do. Not only is it a great way to work on cooking skills and terminology but also to make a family recipe collection ( they have great computer programs to hekp with this)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: coastie
                    g
                    gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 05:27 PM

                    Exactly. I just received Crust: Bread to Get Your Teeth Into by Richard Bertinet and I had her in mind. The simple to follow recipes complete with color photographs of each step and the accompanying dvd would encourage any novice baker. I have RLB, Medrich, Greenspan, Martha, and many others but I like the idea of precise directions and explanations that give feedback on why things are done a certain way. I'm encouraging questions and reminding her to utilize the library we have when she comes across a term or ingredient she's unfamiliar with.

                  2. g
                    gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 04:29 PM

                    I really appreciate the feedback. I'm going to sign her up for a knife essentials course. A few places locally offer it and it will help her tremendously with preparation. She has been fortunate to grow up when Julia was still on television and has always been exposed to a variety of foods. I have assigned her a night of cooking and she will be preparing the meal and shopping for the ingredients. I'm looking forward to the extra hands and a meal option from her aside from well seasoned top ramen!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: gabby29
                      HillJ Jan 7, 2008 04:47 PM

                      gabby, to add a few add'l suggestions to the thread.. I took over kitchen duties when my father passed away and my mother began working full time. So my exposure to cooking was not only early but an ongoing adventure full of practice, practice, practice.

                      My mother would take me to the library to explore books on food cultures and we'd copy recipes on her day off. I remember really enjoying that time with her.
                      Relatives, willing and eager to teach, invited me to their home for "lessons" in sauce making, baking, etc. Some of the best teachers I ever had and those "recipes in their heads" that never got written down are now in MY head.
                      In high school I started taking cooking classes around town and at the local grocery chain that offered theme classes.
                      During college I continued to take night classes that caught my interest. Now it's a hobby.

                      What started out as a chore became a real joy. I'm not a pro in any particular area but I am one hell of a short order cook and I'm not afraid to try anything.

                      A bit of encouragement, like you are offering, is all she'll need.

                      1. re: HillJ
                        g
                        gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 05:22 PM

                        Thank you for your kind words. My daughter has been very spoiled. While I often helped in the kitchen when possible she has no clue aside from the microwave. I'm concerned that she will be in a bind in the years to come when she heads off to college and will be dependent on what's available in the cafeteria or through delivery. Based on the suggestions I've gotten I will have help helping out and assign a day where she goes it alone. I've decided that she'll use Mastering the Art of French cooking. She adores Julia and I am focusing on proficiency and technique.

                        1. re: gabby29
                          HillJ Jan 7, 2008 05:59 PM

                          gabby, I wouldn't worry too much about your daughter growing up w/out a clue. Come college, she will meet other young adults learning how to prepare meals for themselves and they will teach eachother. Students pursuing culinary arts may also cross her path with skills to share. Whether she absorbs every word in The Art of French Cooking or meets a frenchmen and learns at his side-she's bound to expand beyond the microwave.

                          Remember, keep it fun!

                          1. re: gabby29
                            f
                            foiegras Apr 25, 2008 11:18 AM

                            It seems like a bit of a leap from the microwave to Mastering the Art of French Cooking? I know Martha cooked her way thru it, but she's ... unusually ambitious.

                            My mother never wanted us in the kitchen when she was cooking, so ... I somehow learned by osmosis without actually being there. At some point after she had my brother, she went on an extended diet and I started cooking out of self-defense using whatever I could find in the pantry. I still enjoy the challenge of creating something from "nothing."

                            My references were Joy of Cooking, and an old textbook of my mother's with white sauce proportions. I still occasionally refer to the Joy.

                            Then and now, I prefer to cook (but not bake!) without recipes. I still don't use chichi cookbooks ... I like church cookbooks and magazine compilations for inspiration. Also the cookbook row at the library.

                      2. m
                        Moots Jan 7, 2008 01:33 PM

                        Now a 23 year old dad, I began cooking at 13-14. It all started when we finally got Food TV in my area. My parents who are staight out meat and potatoes people were more than happy to let me expiriment with new recipes.

                        I just started out with basics. Took over grilling duties on the weekends (Added grilled veggies and my parents were hooked) , made dinner once or twice a week again nothing over the top but just trying new foods/techniques. After a while I moved to more advanced things.

                        Most important as the parent though I think is to be supportive, my parents allowed me to cook, allowed me to do my own thing, often trying new foods that they otherwise would have never had, most times they enjoyed it, sometimes they didn't (My dad hates pineapple and pork sadly) but they were always supportive.

                        As you are posting here, I assume you have a more varied palette than my parent's meat and potatoes, so it should be fairly easy. Choose recipes and put her in charge of the side dish one night or the main dish another, if you enjoy similar foods teaching your child to cook should be a snap, not to mention take some dinner time stress off the parent :). Cooking together is a great parent/child activity and you get to teach her everything you know, the best place to learn the basics is at home.

                        I now cook with my little one (3 years old) he's usually in charge of salad (no knives) I just let him tear away at lettuce, make the dressing in a shaker, he also does alot of general mixing, he loves the mess, and almost has fresh pasta figured out (I have to do the rolling) So it is never to early to start, I say just have her jump in on dinner time to help out/

                        1. m
                          mordacity Jan 7, 2008 12:45 PM

                          I'm not quite sure how an older teen cook's needs differ from an adult cook's in this respect. She's old enough to use knives and such and she's already motivated to learn. I think the best way is to get her in the kitchen with you when you make dinner. She can learn the basics there. Then ask her what she's interested in cooking, and point her to books/classes in that area. This is how I learned, and it gave me the double benefit of decent cooking skills and quality time with my parents.

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