family life / homeschool / mama self care

How to Enable Cooking in the Homeschool Kitchen

A giant benefit of homeschooling is that our kids spend so much time at home, the kitchen becomes their school.

Let them cook!


Why?

  1. You have more time to do other stuff.
  2. It’s a creative outlet that everyone benefits from (minus the extra kitchen clean-up;)
  3. They learn a tangible life skill.
  4. You don’t have to think about the next meal.
  5. They learn practical skills, fractions, nutrition, & safety skills.

What to cook?

Whatever you like to eat, of course.

Our children learned to cook because they were bored. We travelled to rural Kenya on a medical volunteer trip and our four young kids had no screens except their MP3 players with previously downloaded American Test Kitchen cooking classes. There was a recipe for pate brise, brownie, pate de choux, ganache, tarts, and cakes. (Not stuff we always consume, except the brownies).

Flour, sugar, and water were available in our pantry, so the potential was there. Every morning, Agnes, our house helper arrived and started the natural gas oven with a lit match thrown into the oven and we got our baking started.

I remember the first time the kids sampled bread baking. We were in a small apartment in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. An unlikely place. But we were spending the summer adventuring while my husband was working a medical locum at their hospital.

So how else to harness boredom? Bake, cook, get messy, and learn kitchen skills.

Eventually a catering job was offered to our twelve year old, who had a special skill at creating flaky pie crusts. She set up her business, learned about capital costs (we fronted the costs for a coffee maker which she gradually paid back) and created her own billing system. She woke up at 0500 and baked up a storm: often ham n’ egg cups, muffins, scones, and fresh fruit for her dad to bring to his physician meetings. This job lasted for years.

Then she fell in love with a French cook, Julia Child. The accompanying movie, Julie & Julia, was engaging and got her curiosity piqued. She began a blog about cooking through her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She got through the soups and sauces sections and eventually let it go, but it sure is fun to see how she engaged that. You can find my daughter’s blog here: www.capturingthecharmedkitchen.wordpress.com

Later, this curiosity translated into a part-time regular job at a local bakery. She had exposure and training in all sorts of other techniques. It’s pretty funny to be taught by your child how to cut a symmetrical cake and how to provide an initial icing before you officially ice the cake. Her employer let me know she was her best tart maker and has an excellent work ethic. That bakery’s tarts, chocolate caramel, are also my ultimate favourite tart.

When there is a request for a birthday pie (my husband’s favourite) or a Thanksgiving pie plan, I ask my now seventeen year old daughter to do it. I never create a product like she does. Once upon a time I discovered why too: she showed me her skill. “Mom, all you have to do is crumble the butter between your fingers with the flour.”

She’s a natural born perfectionist, and always particular in the kitchen, and it always pays off.

“Oh, I see!” I declare, “I know why your pie crust is always better than mine! I have NO PATIENCE for that kind of detail.” And that is why her crusts are always better than mine.

Now this almost grown young woman can turn random things from the fridge into full meals, knows how to recreate a previous meal into a refreshed meal, and could make a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast independent of me. This kiddo recognized that no one was eating a bag of frozen sour cherries, so she transformed this frozen fruit into dried fruit leather. One day, the garden provided more zucchini than the neighbours wanted, so she made a cashew cream zucchini pasta. And dare you wonder if this was gross, it was not. It was delish.

She does acknowledge that I make better sourdough bread (which took me a year to perfect), but there is little else that I could make better than her.

Want to see our recent series, the Homeschool Kitchen? You can find us cooking up a storm on YouTube. Mostly it’s me taping and talking and her cooking.

Want to know the two things I did that helped to contribute to this amazing homeschool kid cook?

  1. I encouraged her curiosity.
  2. I left the kitchen. You all know what most moms do when they teach their kids to cook? Control, control, control. “No, honey, too much baking soda. You gotta level it. No honey, don’t overmix that or it’ll come out tough. NO honey, do this do that. Oh forget it, I’ll just do it myself.” So note to self: leave the kitchen. Want to know how many times they’ll add too much baking soda? NOT THAT MANY. It’s gross, they’ll learn. Trust your kids to learn.

My daughter, Madelyn and I have been recording and creating cooking demonstrations, The Homeschool Kitchen, found on my YouTube channel if you’re looking for other inspired meal ideas:

DOWNLOAD your FREE Homeschool Menu Planning Tips

I want to know what you think. Let me know.

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