By the time I left home I knew how to cook. I knew how to shop, budget and plan meals. I had a stable of things I knew how to cook by heart but also a collection of recipe books and the skill and desire to use them. I was by no means an excellent cook or a fancy cook but I could feed myself and my housemates wholesome and tasty meals for a reasonable price.
As I got older I positively enjoyed baking (it was getting to eat the results that did it), but I also had responsibilities to contribute to the family meals. I helped mum to shop and I picked our own home grown produce and I learned about produce and how to pick the best stuff, I top and tailed beans, stirred gravy on the stove and tossed salads. I also got home from school to notes about putting on the roast at a certain time or getting the vegetables ready.
I was shocked to realise how many of my peers at school never cooked at all. A lot of my friends with stay at home or part time working mums came home from school to home baked afternoon tea delights and rarely if ever were put to work in the kitchen. When I was younger I was deeply envious but as I got older I was filled with gratitude. Understanding how to cook and feed a family in the routine and mundane way is something I am exceptionally pleased to not have to learn as an adult.
So, back to Amy. This is what I want her to have. To appreciate the work of proper old school cooking, to develop her understanding and skills and one day to leave home ready to provide for herself. While she's always been involved in baking and helping out the move to taking the lead was a whole new ballgame. I've bought her a few cookbooks - I started with ones aimed at kids but I find them pretty limited, with an emphasis on sweets, baking and processed ingredients, so more recently I've kept an eye out for the easy, quick, weeknight meal type books.
We started a year or so ago with the occasional mothers day or fathers day meals but at Christmas time Amy announced she wanted a regular weekly slot. We decided on a weekend night so there would be time to shop and prepare without rush. Last week she made risotto primavera and it was sensational, this week spanakopita.
I find it really hard to teach and nurture her without getting too caught up in doing everything efficiently and well - it will be my ongoing challenge to hand over the reigns whilst still being supportive. I need to teach her more knife skills, and build her confidence with heat and somehow get her muscles going for handling big pots and pans - she's petite for her age and no match for the adult scale of kit. I also need to reinforce the lessons and tips she learns as she goes.
It was while mulling over some of these challenges that I came up with the idea of her blog posting her cooking. In writing down the recipes and steps she can relive the process and better cement it in her mind. She'll have a record to come back to if she wants to cook the same dish twice and I also thought she might gain a readership with some of my blog readers kids - maybe other households will take up the weekly kid cook challenge. I'm letting Amy post in her own words, as she wants, and if I feel the need to add anything I'll do it as a postscript at the end.
Hi I am Amy and I cook dinner weekly and I am 9 years old. Here's something I made on the 7/1/12.
And here's the recipe for it:
1 box of filo pastry
125gms melted butter
500gms cheese - feta and/or haloumi and/or ricotta
2 packets of frozen spinach
2 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
1. Dice both of the onions and finely cut garlic
2. Put garlic & onions in a pan over medium heat and cook without browning with a drizzle of oil
3. Meanwhile crack all the eggs into large bowl [watch out for some shell]
4. Crumble cheese lightly over bowl with the eggs
5. Drain spinach and leave over sink
6. Check on onion, if the onion is ready put it with cheese and eggs if not do this step later
7. Add spinach to the other ingredients and mix and mix
8. After you have finished mixing get a square tin, filo pastry and the melted butter
9. Spread butter around the tin up the side and the bottom work quickly so that pastry won’t dry out
10. Put a piece of pastry in the tin and spread butter all over fast, do it about 10 to 15 times then add the filling
serve with yoghurt or tomato and cucumber salad
hope you enjoyed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Suzie's PS - we actually split our mix in two and made 2 smaller pies - one without spinach for the boy who won't eat green. We used a mixture of haloumi and feta cheese because we like the flavours - ricotta gives a milder taste if that's what you like. I also usually put a bunch of chopped spring onions and a handful of flat leaf parsley in - but we were cooking from what we had so we skipped these things. You can beef the meal up by serving with some steamed baby potatoes or rice and lentil pilaf, we had it with green beans from the garden with a bit of vinegar, pomegranate molasses and some chopped cherry tomatoes. This quantity made plenty for the 4 of us with enough left overs for lunch tomorrow - could have fed 6 adults. Next time Amy makes this I will encourage her to switch a few ingredients so she can explore changing recipes once she has the method down pat.]
Edited to add - as one commenter highlighted, this post gives the impression that all these expectations are placed on Amy and not Wil. And I just wanted to say this is absolutely not the case! When Wil is a little older he will be doing the same as she is now - but at 4 I don't think he's ready for kitchen resnsibility. He loves to help me bake and already shows a natural tendency for order and precision that bodes well for his cooking future, and he loves anything that involves following 'structions. And I fully intend to see him off in the world with all the capabilities in the home sphere that the girl child has and besides would I pass up the opportunity for 2 nights a week off cooking?!