Friday, February 26, 2010

What's Cooking?

After years of proving over and over again that I can't be trusted in the kitchen, of proving that I can't actually formulate a balanced meal for my family, or calculate getting that meal to the table at precisely the time the family might reasonably be hungry, an amazing thing has happened: Daughter has started cooking.

This happened slowly. The first hint was when she'd be watching TV and, instead of watching Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, she'd turn on The Food Network. At first I thought this was because I was so pathetic in the kitchen that she just wanted to see food - even on TV. But that wasn't it, because she was always eating while watching these shows.

Then she eagerly started watching the competition shows, the cake bake-offs, the meal in a box shows, the outdoor kitchen shows.

Finally came her demand:  she wanted to cook dinner for us. Of course this involved me doing all the chopping, Husband doing all the cooking, and her supervising from on high, the recipe/menu/idea person. She wasn't actually going to get her hands dirty or anything. Anyway, would you trust a ten-year-old with a big knife?

I don't know why I never took to cooking. I definitely took to eating. I guess I was just more of the instant gratification type of eater. When I wanted it, I had it, like with a spoon and one jar of peanut butter and one jar of jelly. No simmering over a hot stove for this appetite.

So Daughter made up a menu with an appetizer, a main dish, a side dish and a dessert and then she put me to work preparing, put herself to work making a secret sauce for the fish, and put Husband to work grilling. Her secret ingredient for her secret sauce? Soy sauce. She only uses soy sauce and she only makes her sauce for fish.

You know how normally when your kids give you something to eat, especially something pretend - like when they hand you a plastic burger - you have to pretend everything is really delicious? Well, weirdly enough, when Daughter's made something, each time it's really been delicious. We were wary, we were skeptical, we were reticent, but each time we've tried her recipes it's been great. Now we're eager. We sit down at the table, which must be fully set each time, and all of us are appreciative of the ten-year-old chef in our midst who's wrestled the cooking duties from mom.

Of course, we're almost out of soy sauce and our blood pressures are sky rocketing, but still.

Are there any tasks you'll willingly hand over to your kids, or that your kids are showing an affinity for already? Do you mind being pushed aside as an incompetent nincompoop? Have you tried our "secret?" Soy sauce on fish?


  1. I would LOVE it if one of my kids would start cooking (they are 6 and 2).. I will also happily hand over the snow shovel at any time!

  2. My daughter is an excellent cook, too. She is currently making her second dinner for the week. I think it stems from the same source- she likes good food and I am incapable of making it.

    I'm lucky enough that she can do all the chopping and cooking by herself.

  3. A daughter who cooks, now that's a huge plus!

    My kids like to vacuum. And it's fine with me as long as they stay away from the curtains and our neighbor's cat.

  4. Jennifer, I'm trying to think of an Arizona equivalent of a snow shovel... I know, cleaning the pool. Except we don't have one! The problem with kids cooking is they don't take to cleaning up so well!

  5. Charlotte, I guess we should be insulted about having the cooking duties taken away from us but, really, I'm just relieved! Also, if someone really enjoys doing it - great. I'll do something else I really enjoy!

  6. From soy sauce to success, I say! I like this girl. Standing over you giving orders, preparing a "secret something" for her dinner vision.

    Shoot. I think I need a daughter.

  7. Terresa, Kids who vacuum is a big plus. My son will do anything for gaming time including cleaning the tub! Since he knows I'm picky he's gotten very good at it. One day, he'll make someone a great husband!

  8. Sarah, when I was touring my son's high school recently, the culinary arts classes were half and half - males and females! So there's hope! You may be able to give up cooking yet!

  9. Hey is this the daughter that wanted to be a waitress...
    hallalujah...she's a chef.
    and yes...there are things my kids have an affinity for...none of it is housework.
    My eight year old can draw like nobodies business and my oldest is a scholar..she has three ap classes next year...
    She also started spouting off about the mating habits of various and sundry animals when she turned 7, she is 16 and still does it.
    She also got extra credit for naming 100 distinct species of sea creatures after her biology teacher told her that 'nobody could'.
    40 minutes later she had a list on his desk.
    My daughter, future doctor of zoology.

  10. Very cool! And actually, my younger son (soon to be 17) has been cooking for about 3 years now. He loves to eat, and following the car accident a few years ago, I needed help. I still do - some days more than others. Over the past few years, I've talked him through several recipes which he executed on (with his only little flourishes and enormous patience) - and they've always turned out great!

    And he's about to pick up more cooking duties, as we embark upon the first weekend of international exchange. Now if only he could get that thing about not dropping dirty clothes wherever he happened to be when he decided to remove them...

  11. Hooray for her! That's awesome! I was right around her age when I started cooking things for my family. My first meal: sloppy joes.

    I think your daughter is light years ahead of me, there!

  12. My two-year-old loves to help me cook. He is an expert "dumper" (emptying the contents of measuring cups into mixing bowls) and "stirrer." His favorite tool to use to stir? A popsicle stick, of course! Isn't that what all the top chefs do?

    I hope with this early start he can be cooking for the entire family by the age of 4! (Or at least not burn down the kitchen...) ;)

  13. Chris, same waitress/scullery maid daughter! She's moved up to greater ambitions, thank goodness. Love the zoology professor daughter! Amazing how kids just get drawn to their own interest areas - 100 distinct species of sea creatures indeed!

  14. BLW, Great job on the teenage boy cooking! And also, it sounds like he's not just making hot wings :). How we got a 10-year-old who likes FISH...weird.

    And sadly I'm also mystified about the clothes scattering. The random dropping of everything whereever and whenever they feel like it always seems to be an indictment of my parenting.

  15. TKW, if she ends up as talented as you in the kitch, my life will be good indeed! Imagine me, being invited over all the time (well, once in a while, when we stop kicking up our empty-nester heels!) and having my daughter cook world-class meals for me. Tell me, do you have to cook a lot of hotdogs for your dad? Oy.

  16. Kristen, love the idea of Big Boy dumping all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and then painstakingly stirring with a popsicle stick. Do you sneak back to get the lumps out or bake as is? Is he on schedule for a graduation to a wooden spoon???

  17. I am already thinking about letting the Queen cook for me. I'm pretty sure she could make better meals than those I like to pass off. B has convinced me, though, to wait a few years. Sigh. I guess I'll have to continue stumbling around the kitchen.

    I can make a killer ice cream sundae! Shoot. I lied. That's my husband. Dang it.

  18. Amber, let the Queen stir stuff with a popsicle stick, like Kristen said Big Boy does when she's baking. It'll start transferring the cooking duties early!

  19. Linda, thank you for always leaving such sweet comments on my blog!

  20. I can't cook and my daughter's a whiz kid in the kitchen, too - at least we know it's not hereditary! Just wait until your daughter comes across a recipe with fish paste in it - YUK! - you'll be begging for the soy sauce days again.