This week we talked about the business of teaching young people to cook and how it’s different for many of us than how we learned. We wanted to learn even more so we talked with a family we know that’s cooking with their daughter. We asked the parents, Cari and Joe, why it’s so important their daughter know how to cook, and then chatted with Zoe about her love of cooking.
Not surprisingly, time gets in the way of these busy parents so they can’t plan and take the time to cook they might like to. It’s another example of why the days of the days of the Fannie Farmer Junior Cookbook are long gone for most.
From Cari and Joe
Why do you think it’s important for kids to know how to cook?
Kids should know how to cook for several reasons:
Cooking supports and provides real world applications to many of the important skills that are taught in our educational system. Classroom lessons in mathematics, science, and social studies are all echoed in the technical and cultural contexts inherent in cooking.
Cooking in the general sense gives children a medium with which to support and provide for the family unit. Children thrive when they are provided opportunities to participate socially; cooking gives them the sense of utility they see in the roles of their older siblings and their parents.
What’s the best part of you and Zoe cooking together that you want to make sure other parents know?
Cooking is a life skill and necessary part of becoming an independent person. I think all parents have a certain sense of denial about the inevitability of their children growing up; In reality, we all know that the experiences and lessons we provide for our kids will shape them and, to some extent, determine their successes in life.
Cooking with Zoe provides me an opportunity to spend time with my daughter while imparting knowledge and skills she will need for herself and a family of her own someday. I have seen how much Zoe values the time spent with her great grandmother, grandmother, and mom—much of that time is spent baking and learning family recipes.
I hope she will remember and appreciate the time the two of us spent in the kitchen learning new skills and enjoying each other’s company. At the very least, I know she will be extremely cautious while using a cheese grater.
Do you like to cook? Why/Why not?
We love to cook, especially when there’s time to plan a menu and cook something healthy and delicious rather than the fly by the seat of my pants meals that grace our table or kitchen island most weekdays. I think cooking is a creative outlet and I need those in my day. I also like that my family knows I took the time to prepare something for them, one of the ways I let them know they are my favorite people in the world.
Who taught you to cook?
I’m not really sure if I was specifically taught to cook by any one person, but most everyone in my family cooks. My mom is a wonderful “whip something up” kind of cook, both of my grandmothers baked a lot. One of my grandmothers is still with us and she bakes with my children. My Grandma Grace ,who passed away, sent me a chocolate zucchini cake packed in popcorn once in college and I cried, I was so happy. I even learned a thing or two about camp cooking and grilling from my dad.
Why did you sign Zoe up for a program like Raddish Kids?
Zoe came home from a friend’s home where the friend was really proud of what she had made. It turned out the friend was in Raddish Kids. We looked into it and bought a kit as a little surprise. She was thrilled when it came in. She and Joe did all the shopping and prep. We invited grandparents over for dinner. It was a huge hit. After that we decided we needed a monthly subscription.
What have you enjoyed most about the program?
I love that she really enjoys doing this with her dad. She and I will make recipes too, but I love to see her bond with him in the kitchen. I love that she sees that he knows cooking and shopping and teaching her these things are his job too. He and I share the responsibility.
What have you wished was included in the program?
We wish they would e-mail the prep time and cook time information when they email the ingredients list. Sometimes we get really excited to make something only to realize that we didn’t leave enough time to do a step like letting dough rise.
Tell me about the cupcake party.
Editor's note: We are asking Zoe the same question but thought the parent perspective was important too.
We recently moved into a new neighborhood – there are a lot of kids, which is fantastic! Zoe doesn’t go to our neighborhood school though, so the only way she gets to know the neighbor kids is through play. In the summer it’s no problem to just go outside and see who is around to play, but in the winter and with hectic schedules, we’ve found having organized get-togethers with our neighbors works really well.
Recently Zoe made a rosemary focaccia and I posted about it on Facebook. Several of the neighborhood moms commented – several who used Raddish Kids and a few others who were on the fence. In the flurry of comments we organized a cupcake party using a Raddish recipe so the moms and kids who didn’t have the subscription could try it out.
It worked out great. We had a lot of fun and, as luck would have it, Zoe was able to write about the experience for a homework assignment. She goes to a Montessori School and practical life skills are a big part of the curriculum.
From Zoe; Age 9
When did you start cooking? What made you want to start?
I started cooking with my great-gramma when I was three. We love to make chocolate chip banana bread. I think it’s fun!
What’s the best part of cooking?
Mixing all of the ingredients together.
What’s the worst part of cooking?
Having to wait for things to bake.
What has been your favorite thing to make?
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes!
Do you think you’ll be cooking for all your life now?
I think I will always be able to cook.
Is your mom a good cook? What about your dad?
Yes! And so is Daddy.
Does your brother ever cook? What does he make?
Yes, he makes mac & cheese, grilled cheese and crepes.
What does your brother think of you cooking all the time?
He thinks it’s good!
Do you cook a whole meal or just pieces of one?
I did cook a whole meal once, but mostly just pieces. I would like to cook a whole meal again.
How long have you been part of Raddish Kids?
How much do you cook that’s not part of Raddish Kids?
A lot. Mostly banana bread and cakes.
Tell us about your cupcake party.
It was really really fun. My favorite part was decorating them. I liked having my friends over, they were all very nice and we worked well together.
Was this the first time you’ve cooked a recipe in a group like this? Fun?
No, I’ve done it before. Every year my Girl Scout troop makes applesauce, and I’ve made soup at school before. I think it’s a lot of fun.