Hey all! HUNGRY JAX here from the FOOD ADVENTURES CREW, with a feature geared towards Dayton area moms and dads (or Aunts and Uncles for that matter).
Summer is upon us! This means sunshine, pool and even more free time for your kids! Sunny days are easy for us to find things to do outdoors. But those days, where its just TOO hot or it’s a monsoon that has blown in, I find myself turning to my back up plans for activities indoors. And that usually means you’ll find us in my kitchen making a delicious mess!
I have two fantastic daughters (yes, I may be biased but if you’ve met them, you’ll totally agree) ages 5 and 3. They love super heroes, bugs, princesses and legos. They are true mixtures of both my husband and I. So when Coraline (my 5 year old) first asked me in that sweet little voice of hers at the age of 3 if she could help me cook, my foodie heart about exploded! My mind flooded with these picturesque scenes of my daughter and I laughing and singing in the kitchen as we created delicious memories together!
I instantly jumped at this chance to have her help me make something. Cookies. Cookies were clearly the easiest thing we cold make together. Chocolate chip to be exact. So I gathered all the ingredients and tools necessary, wrapped her up in an apron and began our first cooking adventure! Those daydreams of mine were about to become real!
And then things got real. Real messy. And chaotic. A THREE YEAR OLD? COOKING? AM I NUTS? Flour was everywhere (genius me had just cleaned the kitchen prior to this). She ate more ingredients than what she actually dumped into the bowl. She’s my first born, so clearly I was panicking that she would die from eating the raw dough. My anxiety was high. My blood pressure was higher. By some miracle we created a decent batch of cookies. After a bath for her, and a mopping of my kitchen, there were no traces of the disaster zone. It was after this experience that knew I needed to be better prepared for the next time this was going to happen.
So, after many kitchen creations since then, with Coraline , and now, her sister, Ashlyn (my 3 year old that insists on making her own scrambled eggs), I have come up with some key pointers to share with you all if you have yet to embark on a cooking food adventure with your kids!
1. IT’S PEANUT BUTTER N JELLY TIME:
While cookies were a simple task for just me, add in a toddler and it was like trying to bake on a camping trip during the middle of a tornado. Starting out simple will help you gauge your child in how well they will listen in the kitchen setting. Have them make toast and let them butter it themselves. Or add the sprinkles on top of a cake. PB&J is a perfect option here. Obviously, if your child is older you can kick up the challenge, but when we are talking toddlers, ease into this. As they get older and better at this, let them start to choose ideas out of cookbooks for what to make. The more invested they are in what you are making, the more focused and committed they will be to creating the final product.
2. OWN A GOOD VACUUM. OR A DOG:
There will be a mess. It’s impossible not to have a mess when cooking with kids! And you know what, the mess can be a lot of fun! I’ve found it helpful when I am making something that involves flour, I would let my kids play with an extra pile of it to occupy them while I cooked. Same thing with dough. They LOVE to roll out dough. Get small 6 inch long dowels and let them use that as their own rolling pins! As they feel more engaged and included they will begin to observe you. And one of the best ways to learn skills in the kitchen is to have a hands on experience! So, tossing flour and watching it disperse in the air or squeezing pizza dough to feel how to squishes and stretches helps your child not only have fun, but gain an understanding as to how things should look and feel when cooking.
3. OWN A FIRE EXTINGUISHER:
This one should be self explanatory. However, it is important to teach your children about safety in the kitchen, especially when using appliances and the stove. My kids were allowed to pull up a chair next to the stove and stand on it to observe me cooking before they were allowed to actually stir/make something using the stove. They learned how the gauges on the stove would indicate what burners are hot, and how to only hold the handle of the cooking vessel. Breaking down what would be common sense to an adult into basic lessons is what a child needs to be successful in the kitchen
4. DON’T CRY OVER SPILLED MILK:
Eggs will get dropped. Something will spill. Someone is going sneeze into the bowl of cookie dough. It happens. Sometimes it’s an easy clean up and fix, other times it’s something bad enough to have to start all over. Stay calm. It’s just food. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s just food. Freaking out and turning what could be an amazing memory into a memory of mom or dad hyperventilating and breathing into a brown paper bag isn’t what we are going for here.
5. TAKE PICTURES:
My fondest memories of being a kid were cooking with my grandmothers and my dad. Memories that are forever branded in my mind. These days we have the gift of technology to instantly capture memories so that we can immortalize them and share them for generations to come. Take pictures. Lots of pictures.
Well foodie friends, I bid you good luck on your Food Adventures in the kitchen with your kids! Give it a chance. And then another. You’ll find what works for you and your children. It doesn’t have to go perfect. I promise you it won’t. But when you stop coloring within the lines you allow yourself to create a new picture. And it’ll be an awesome one.
Want more foodie fun and scoop on Dayton’s best restaurants? Follow Hungry Jax, Chef House and The Big Ragu’s daily Food Adventures on Facebook by clicking HERE !