Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cooking With Kids

Visiting friends with a toddler recently, we made calzones together. Standing on a stepstool, the toddler helped to mix the ricotta and ham filling and knead the pizza dough. He even brushed the calzones with olive oil after we stuffed and closed them.

Before we started, I imagined all kinds of messy scenarios: A handful of flour thrown on the floor. An attempt to eat the filling,which had one raw egg, in fistfuls. Olive oil painted on the walls or Mommy.

Nothing like that happened. Standing close to him and showing him how to do each step before he tried himself, he was able to figure it out and smile, too.

It might seem intimidating at first to cook with kids. I does take some extra preparation since they can’t do everything and they might initially be frustrated. The grownup’s job is to set up the bowls (preferably plastic) in such a way that your child can reach and participate in small tasks like mixing. For safety, my friend says, "hot corner," when she opens the oven. Her son knows to stand quietly in a corner far from the heat. Once he oven is closed, he returns to helping.

As they get used to cooking and mature, they’ll be able to do more and more. Think of the great meals you’ll be able to prepare together in the future! They’ll thank you later for the skill that you’ve given them for life.

You can find my two favorite cookbooks geared towards preparing a meal with your child here. This blog, Cooking With My Kid, has some great suggestions, too.

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