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“Only Interested People are Interesting” ~ Jeff Cooper

One of the most fun things my child and I do together is cook. This is a great activity, and a wonderful opportunity to practice math skills and develop physical dexterity. Don’t believe me? Grab an old fashioned American recipe and double it. Then halve it. How many teaspoons in a tablespoon? In a cup? English measurements converting to Metric? All good stuff.

Start out with baking. The recipes are fairly easy, and no hot grease or scalding water is involved. The new cook needs minimal distractions and nobody learns well when they are afraid of burning themselves.

Have the child copy the recipe from the cookbook or Internet. This makes them familiar with the ingredients and the steps in the process. Plus it keeps the cookbook from being ruined by the impending spills.

Buy the ingredients together so the child learns how to budget a meal, and how to select healthy products.

Allow the child to measure the ingredients, mix them, and put them in the pan. Wash up together while the pan is in the oven.

When the pan comes out of the oven the child will take great pride in having their dish enjoyed by the entire family.

My daughter first expressed an interest in cooking 3 years ago. Since them we have acquired the “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook”, and the Pumpkin Pasties recipe has become a family favorite. The National Outdoor Living Skills (NOLS) Cookbook has been added to the shelf along with a cookbook containing recipes collected from the wives of US Cavalry officers during the 1800s. Recipes copied, or clipped, from various places adorn our fridge door.

This week I enjoyed an “Apple Crisp” dessert my daughter found on the back of a box of Corn Flakes, and last night it was a simple fruit salad based on pistachio Jello and Cool Whip. She also makes a pretty good Huevos Rancheros following her father’s personal recipe.

Cooking is also an excellent window into other cultures. Sampling and learning to cook dishes “not from around these parts” can make the Social Studies your child is learning more personal. In November of 2011, the ladies in the Heritage IT department brought in traditional snacks for “Diwali” (The festival of lights & Hindu New Year). I have to admit a couple of those snacks found their way home and were very well received.

Coworkers are an excellent source of new ideas. Several Heritage potlucks have resulted is spirited recipe exchanges. The Slimming World and other weight control programs being used by the employees are generating many good ideas I have taken home. Maybe Santa Claus will stop by Heritage for a classic cookbook…

Spills will happen. Disasters will occur. Great times will be had. When the child grows up they will recall the time spent, the joy of accomplishment, and they won’t have to rely on the nearest take-out joint for their next meal.