A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting Kids Started in the Kitchen

Encourage children in the kitchen as soon as they are able to imitate motions or activities that you are doing--usually between two and three years old. 

Early-age activities could include:
-shaking sugar, cinnamon or cocoa from a sprinkle-top jar
-inserting toothpicks in melon or pineapple chunks and arranging on a plate
-picking grapes from the stem and putting in a bowl
-pulling the string on the salad spinner to dry greens
-hulling strawberries
-using a melon baller with soft cantalope or small melon
-leveling off the ingredients for you on your measuring cup
-juicing a lemon or orange with a hand juicer
-peeling and grating veggies
-slicing cheese with a cheese slicer
-roll out small balls of pie crust dough, cookie dough, bread dough
-cut wedge shapes with pizza cutter, or pastry cutter

Below are some of the utensils a preschool child should be able to handle at some point.  Yes, you do see a small paring knife; but note the child-size gardening gloves adjacent to it.  With the gloves on, the child will not get cut using a small knife, especially given that they apply a lighter pressure than an adult when using these tools.  I gave my daughter her first knife and gloves when she was three; and as an adult, she still talks of how special her first knife was to her.  (She's now a chef)

Engage children in food preparation tasks that are required for making meals from scratch.  If they want to make a salad, have them wash the lettuce, peel the carrots, etc; using fresh garden produce (not peeled, cut and prepackaged items) .  Use smaller produce that is appropriate for their skills.  Have them slicing green onions, versus larger onions; use plum and cherry tomatoes, versus slicing large tomatoes; use thinner and shorter carrots for slicing,  peel or grate carrots, versus chopping a carrot.

Most importantly, let children decide what they want to make and how they want it to look like.  Let them create and experiment.  Do not hover and force a right or wrong way (unless necessary--like if they are using salt when recipe calls for sugar)  Children absolutely swell with pride when they can contribute to a meal--"Kalyn's salad tonight"!  "Mae fixed dessert for us"!

Think of this; if you child starts at three and learns one thing per week about how to prepare food, use utensils, correct kitchen terms, etc; then by the time they start school, they will know at least 100 kitchen tasks for preparing their own food.  Their interest and confidence in food prep will be life-long.

For more posts on Kids In The Kitchen, see list of preserving diary posts under "Kids Kitchen"

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas! I'll be trying them out with my grandkids when they come to "Gramma Camp" this summer.