I never met a child who didn't enjoy cooking. Of course, I realize my universe is very, very small, but still ... over the years I have seen kids interested in food and be curious about such things as:
How big chunks get chopped into little pieces.
What happens to eggs when they're boiled.
What vanilla extract and whole cloves smell like.
What okra tastes like.
Why some people fry "grilled cheese" and some people cook it in a toaster oven.
How sushi/sashimi feels in your mouth.
Big questions. All of them. And if you encourage their curiosity, children learn much more than about the food. They learn that you will feed the hunger in their brain as well as in their stomach.
That's a good thing.
I think maybe kids begin the want-to-cook process when they are really young and they get to lick the bowl or taste a hunk of whatever it is you are cooking. Usually something sweet like cake batter or cookie dough.
Two of my grand daughters once shared a batter bowl and spatula, as you can see in the first photo. YES I KNOW ALLOWING THEM TO LICK THE SAME SPATULA isn't the most sanitary thing. But that picture, one of my favorites of all time, reminds me of the great time we had that day. And that they continued to enjoy cooking, with me and their parents.
They are older now and recently graduated to knife skills. In the second photo they are chopping scallions. Another wonderful day. They are fully into the whole cooking thing and I know that these early adventures will make them unafraid of cooking for the rest of their lives.
The recipe for the cake they made on the sharing-spatula day is here.
The scallions? Used for the salad recipe that follows.
If you have a child or niece or nephew or neighbor or know some other kid, encourage him/her to cook. And better yet, do it with them and have some fun.
Chopped Salad with Chickpeas and Avocado
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into dice
- 1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
- 1/2 cup tangy black olives, pitted and halved
- 2-3 hard cooked eggs, chopped
- 3–4 scallions, chopped
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, chick peas, olives, eggs, scallions, parsley and dill in a bowl and toss ingredients gently. Just before serving, mix together the olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.