by Johanna Bergan, Education and Outreach Coordinator
All I can say is thank you to the families who shared their children with me this fall in the Co-op’s first Be’Tween Cooking class series for Tween-aged people. When registration rolled in and the list was almostall male (thank you Storme for joining us in the end!) I was surprised. This wasn’t the class environment I had envisioned. But it has been a blast.
We have journeyed through soups and stews, noodles and wraps, spring rolls and more. Learning to cut, chop and dice together and discovering the difference between sauté and stir fry, just to mention a few of our adventures. All of us have tried something we thought we might not like and have been pleasantly surprised. On the first day, Rex H. set us up for success, quipping, “If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t. But the only way to find out is to try it.”
This class series was created to allow creative space in the kitchen for young girls and boys who are capable of understanding the impact of their food choices and mastering knife skills. In our busy lives it can be difficult to carve out additional time to do what we must do each day – eat. However, our children will need to feed themselves for (hopefully) the next 90 years, so equipping them with an understanding of healthy eating and kitchen skills is of vital importance. In Isaac R.’s wise words,
“Everything is good as long as you have a knife and food!”
How do we equip this generation so they can live a long and healthy life? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I’m so happy that I could offer these opportunities to spend time in the Co-op kitchen. It’s a good start. How to make kitchen magic happen in your own home:
None of us like to stick to a “have too “diet. This applies to our children as well. Think of every meal as an opportunity for children to participate and make decisions. Which veggie should we have, carrots or cauliflower? Notice the vegetable isn’t an option but which vegetable is an option. Start the choices as early in the process as possible. In the grocery store is perfect, but if whole family grocery shopping doesn’t fit in the schedule make the grocery list easily accessible at home. Make sure to say “Yes!” to all of the healthy additions to this list.
Cooking isn’t just for mom or dad. The whole family can pitch in or duties can rotate each night. One powerful way to ensure cooking (and learning) happens is to leave your child in charge of dinner once per week. Toast and hot dogs count. Your family may eat noodles with tomato sauce once a week for the next year, but practice and trial and error will win in the end. Before long the number one spot on the Christmas wish list will be “The Joy of Cooking” and it will be an investment well-made.
This works for some, but not all, families. As a group, decide if everyone has to try one bite of everything or three bites or some variation of this theme. It works best when everyone agrees to the rule and then helps each other stay accountable. Even dad, who hates olives, has to try them when they are served. Making this an “everybody or nobody” rule helps to make it successful. Thank you for trusting your inquisitive Tweens with me. Check out the Calendar of Events to sign up for our Spring line up of classes – including more Be’Tween cooking classes. As Jesus said in class, “Why wait? I don’t even know the meaning of the word.”