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How old were you when you started to cook or bake?

What did you make? And when did you start to teach your kids to cook? What did you make/bake and how did you teach them?

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  1. I was making egg salad, which I loved, very young. Possibly in the 4th or 5th grade. I was baking from about 5th or 6th grade. I baked cookies or a cake from a mix.

    My own kids got pretty much free rein in the kitchen. I don't think any of them baked when they were young, but they learned how to handle cooking in the micro or stovetop. I know they could fry eggs and make sandwiches. All of my kids can cook now.

    1. I started with cookies when I was pretty young and I recall when I was maybe 5 or 6 that my aunt gave me a kid-size cooking set along with some jiffy muffin mixes. I actually used the mini muffin tin from that set in design school for mixing paints :) I started "cooking" when I was 10 or 11, simple stuff like mac n cheese or sauteeing chicken or ground beef, and I was a pretty good baker by then. In 7th grade I got my first set of stitches on my index finger while making a 3-D cell model for science class out of chocolate cake and candies. Slicing red vines length wise with a knife to use as the membrane is a very slippery task :)

      I really didn't COOK until I was in my mid-20s, when I bought a condo with a gorgeous kitchen that I felt was too nice to waste on "cooking" stuff from boxes and frozen stuff, so I bought some books and watched the food network every saturday morning and got to learning.

      Oh, and no kids here.

      1. In my family, cooking was a chore that my mother and grandmother did everything possible to protect me from.

        Around age 26, we moved to a house with a large kitchen. We had a TV in the kitchen and I started watching Food Network after work. I had an hour or so to myself between when I got home before my husband arrived from work. The first 30 minutes was Mario Batali (Molto Mario I believe) then Rachel Ray. After a couple of weeks, I thought to myself "I can do that" and started experiementing.

        1. Wasn't encouraged to be in the kitchen as a kid, but I did much of the cooking when I shared an apartment at college. I used to call my Mom for instructions.

          1. I grew up in my mom's kitchen, opening cans and mashing the potatoes when I was 3 or 4, making Campbell's soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when I was 6, cooking full dinners when I was 12. When I was 16, I went to live with my father and stepmother for a while and walked into a completely different attitude. I believe my stepmother was jealous of the fact that I was a better cook than she was. She even literally got upset because I did my own laundry. She told me that, as a boy, I didn't need to know how to cook or do laundry because that was her job. When I asked her what I was supposed to do when I turned 18 and moved out, she said I was supposed to get married and my wife would do those things for me. Neither of my two ex-wives could cook worth a damn (my second thought she was gourmet and exotic because she made cous-cous) and my current wife has the potential to be a good cook, just not the slightest interest, so I do the cooking. Ironic.

            1. gosh i was 3-4 when I started helping out in the kitchen.

              I baked my first pie at 5-my mom made everything but I had my own mini pie plate so she would let me roll out a small but of dough, line the pan and add the filling.

              I won a blue ribbon for my airplane cake in the third grade.

              Bu the age of 10 I made my own edible Christmas gifts-teas cakes, quick breads etc

              I don't think you "teach" really young kids, you just get them involved. Let 'em make messes, let them be as involved as they can. Keep it fun and keep talking. When my son was small I had running commentary as cooked. They absorb at lot just by listening and watching.

              We also do a lot of "make your own" meals. Pizza, burritos, tacos. You are essentially "teaching" all while making dinner.

              1. I really don't remember not cooking...I had three sisters and a mother who all cooked. We took turns cooking dinner by the time I was in junior high, when my mother went back to work full-time. We were always helping in the kitchen, and my sons were raised in the kitchen, too. They probably couldn't tell you the first thing they cooked either!

                1. I cooked and baked here and there throughout childhood, but not much cooking - definitely more baking. Starting at about 8 I would always make a big batch of homemade peanut butter cookies for my dad for Christmas.

                  I was 10 or 11 when my great grandmother passed away, and that was when I really started baking on my own. My grandmother had always made pies. She would make a pie every week for my grandfather, and when my much older cousin came to visit, she would make him special pies as well. The next time my cousin came to visit, I decided he had to have a pie, and made my first pie (an apple one) from scratch, crust and all, myself - it was apparently quite delicious as I am now the family pie maker.

                  1. I was about eight years old when I started experimenting with cooking. My mother let me go for it. I would play with flour, eggs, vanilla, butter, baking soda or baking powder, sugar.....and make a cake without a recipe. Most of the time, the little cakes were heavy as rocks but sometimes they were a little like pound cake and in all cases, they were edible and I had created them.
                    My son was interested in cooking at a young age as well. He made up a recipe for a mother/son cooking contest. The contest was sponsored by a cheese company and required the mother and son to use just five ingredients, one of which must be the cheese, in a recipe. Noah called his recipe "Sloppy Cheese Casserole." It called for steamed fresh broccoli, ground beef sauteed with Manwich sloppy joe sauce layered on top of the broccoli, two cups of shredded cheese on t op of the beef, and croutons made of pieces of hamburger buns toasted and scattered on top. That's five, right? broccoli, beef, Manwich, cheese, and buns. Cute name! Noah was a runner up finalist in the contest! He graduated from that to making Thai curries. We tried to enter that one in a contest that required a five minute video but we totally blew the five minute deadline and went on and on about the Thai ingredients. Frantic, I asked my sister and her husband, producers and editors for public radio, to edit our tape. It was so terrible that they had to cut most of it and my sister did a voiceover for the dialogue! We didn't win that one.
                    But despite our failure on "Noah's Curry", he has turned into a very accomplished cook and prepares meals for his college roommates regularly. Recently, he called me to ask me about my chicken stock recipe. Made me very happy.

                    1. If Chef Boyardee pizza kits count, probably around six.

                      1. I was 12 when I started getting serious. I would watch the old PBS cooking shows with my dad and wanted to learn to make an omelette. He showed me how, but he showed me the wrong way. He flips his omelettes and was fine with them being browned. After watching Julia Childs do it a few times, I figured it out. I will say that it took me years to get my omelettes absolutely perfect. 27 years later I can finally do a perfect wet or dry and never brown. After I learned an omelette, I would look at cook books, and started helping my mom. She realized that I could take some of the work off of her, she started letting me in the kitchen. Starting in middle school, I took every home ec and food class I could. I got 5 years of cooking instruction between middle and high school.

                        I started teaching my own how to cook pretty early. I haven't taught her as much as I could because I like to get in the kitchen alone with a glass of wine and cook. It's my me time. She is 10 and can make scrambled eggs, egg in a hole, an okay omelette (I still have to help with the omelette). She can also make herself simple things like PBJ , turkey and spinach wrap, or a fruit, cheese, and salami plate. I let her help with baking, and I often just do mis en place and tell her what to do, then she will go to town and do it all. She loves that. She is making cupcakes to take for Thanksgiving this year. I am going to start having her make a dish for every holiday we go to so she will understand that you always contribute something.

                        1. About age ten. I had to ride with my mom to school and she grocery shopped before coming home in the afternoons. If I helped with the shopping I got to have a lot of input into what we would have for dinner.

                          She hated to cook so as I became more accomplished I could have anything I wanted for dinner so long as I cooked it.

                          1. I have pictures of me as a toddler covered with flour, helping out with making cookies. There definitely wasn't a time when I didn't cook, although the first thing I remember really learning to cook was scrambled eggs when I was about 7 or 8.

                            When I was in middle school, my mom put me in charge of assembling pizza (putting the crust in the pan, adding the marinara sauce, topping it). By high school, I was making dinner for the family about once a week or so. My favorite things to make were chicken pot pie and crab fettuccini alfredo. Both were mostly made from scratch, although we used crescent rolls for the pot pie crust and store bought noodles for the fettuccini. I rarely eat pasta now, although I do enjoy a pot pie now and then!

                            1. Mom says I was born with my fist in my mouth and I believe it. I have always loved food. But I distinctly remember when I was 6 my mom was looking after my younger siblings and asked me if I wanted to bake cookies. She left the recipe on the counter and asked me to half it. I thought she meant to only mix the left-hand column which is what I did. Needless to say the cookies weren't exactly...uh...cookies.

                              I was into serious cooking by the age of 9 or 10 with lots of cookbooks. Mom has always hated cooking but encouraged my passion for it. I was doing nearly all the cooking for my family when I was 10 just because I wanted to (except for lunches, of course, as I was at school). I did all the canning when I was 12. My Home Ec teacher asked me to give mini lectures in her class as she told me in the hallway that my cooking and food knowledge surpassed hers. My passion has grown and grown over the years and has exploded into an obsession!

                              My husband and I do not have children but we have lots of little nieces and nephews I am trying to get interested. Most are too young. It would be so wonderful to share my love for cooking with another family member!

                              1. By eleven I cooked dinner by myself most night. I went shopping with my mom, planned the menu, refused to cook certain dinners, and could reliably upsell dessert.

                                My mom worked, believed in a family dinner, and didn't think it was my job. I got paid maybe $2/day and it was AWESOME. Plus, I was really good at say baking bread or a pie on a really stressful day for her and thus driving up my income. hee her

                                Somewhere I have a large number of blue ribbons from the county fair.

                                1. I moved out at eighteen but didn't really start to cook until I was a few days short of my twenty-first birthday and had moved on my own to Europe. As a child my parents didn't invite me into the kitchen or encourage me to cook. Considering what they eat, I am probably better off being self-taught!

                                  1. I hung out watching from the time I was old enough to sit by the kitchen table. Once I could read, I would leaf through the Joy of Cooking on the table (careful to mark my mother's place first; she'd be irked if she needed to consult the recipe and had to find it all over again with food-y hands).

                                    I'm pretty sure the first thing I made was either cornbread or biscuits, at around eight years old. When I was ten I cooked a lot, for the cooking badge in Girl Scouts.

                                    1. I had an early Easy Bake oven. Boy, what crappy cakes that thing turned out. I helped my mom in the kitchen from about age 5 onward. At about 11 or 12, we were assigned dinner prep so at 4 each week day, sis and I chopped veggies, started the rice cooker, put stuff in the oven, made salads, sometimes baked, all IAW mom's instructions, left stuck to the fridge, so that dinner was mostly ready by the time our parents arrived home. By mid-teens, I was responsible for a meal or two per week, from planning, shopping, and preparing.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: tcamp

                                        The Chef Boyardee pizza oven (the "boy version" of the Easy Bake) made REALLY crappy pizza too, but at least I learned early on to be careful when responding to the question, "What do you want for your birthday?"..........that along with the fact that hotter oven = better pizza.

                                      2. I started kindergarten at 4, and I had been doing stuff in the kitchen before that, so I was probably 3 or 4 when I began doing things like using the hand-mixer to beat eggs or batters, opening cans, cleaning and wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil for baking, making hamburger patties from freshly ground beef, rolling chicken in flour or fish in cornmeal for frying, making jello. Probably the first thing I baked was cornbread. The first dish with a more serious risk of getting burned was probably pancakes.

                                        1. Baked a couple times as a kid, but was not really into cooking. In fact, my dad banned us kids from the kitchen after I got a hot water burn at around age 8.

                                          Went through life my teens, 20s and 30s proudly professing of my lack of cooking skills. Some people did not even think I could turn on the stove by myself. Well... I'm okay with electric stoves and gas stoves that light themselves, but show me a gas stove that I have to light with matches and don't be surprised when you finally see the stove lit with a dozes matches around the burner. Remember, I'm a survivor. :p

                                          Back to the story... I went on the mother of all diets and developed an insane passion to cook and bake for myself. I've gone from ordering out several days a week to cooking everything from scratch. I don't even buy cookies at shops. And did I mention I just picked up a 50lb bag of flour from my KAF supplier? That was my second purchase this year and I just noticed my current stash is a little low but may not last through winter. Who wants to drive 45minutes to pick up flour in the snow.

                                          About that diet... I lost 100+ lbs!