Cooking With the BUMD, Day 14: In the Kitchen with Dad

10 August, 2010 | | 4 Comments

It is a little-known fact that the entire decline and fall of the Roman Empire can be traced back to the their failure to teach their kids to cook.  Instead of learning to make their own pasta, the layabout sons and daughters of the Empire just sat in their nice Roman baths, saying things like “Hey Spartacus, nice javelin” and “Yo, Farticus, this isn’t the hot tub – the sulfur baths are down the hall” and generally soaking up the minerals in the natural hot springs.  You can still see them today – the ones that soaked up too many minerals became the statues we see in Rome now.  It was the old version of the tanning bed.

But anyway, there they all were, those Romans, soaking and bubbling and having their slaves peel their grapes and feed them, and the ones who learned anything from their parents learned how to live big, bold lives in public, keeping well documented records in public places of all the stupid things they did and said to each other, so that one shining day, a man from Stratford on Avon might write about them and make them sound less mundane.   (Side note – does this mean that in 1200 years, someone will write successful plays based on the antics of Perez Hilton and ONTD?  “OMG!”) 

But they couldn’t cook, and when the Mongols hit the fan, Roman kids were left to fend for themselves (the parents being either dead, peeling grapes for the Mongols, or turned to statues), and they were unsuccessful.  No cooking, no survival skills in the real world, no more Roman Empire.

To ensure that doesn’t happen here, we’ve started turning my sous chef loose in the kitchen.  The Human Tape Recorder can leverage her natural skills in the kitchen; tell her the recipe once and she’s got it forever, just like all the stuff you said that you didn’t think she could hear when you said it.  Thus far, she’s learned to make things she likes.  This is largely because SOBUMD and I are professionals when it comes to cooking with kids.  The conversation goes like this:

HTR:  I’d like some sugar cookies.
BUMD:  Kitchen’s that way, go to it.

I think this is a perfectly reasonable way to teach her to cook.  It also taught her the value of a good oven mitt, but that’s another story.  Yesterday, she added oatmeal-walnut chocolate chip cookies to her repertoire.  And they were good.

So the question I put to you, dear friend, fond relation, or Gentle Reader, is this: What are those dishes that children must be capable of cooking on their own, before they should be let out of the nest?  When they finally pack their shit and you convert that room into your pleasure dungeon like you’ve been talking about, what does that kid need to be able to cook – and cook well – to stop the Mongol hordes? 

We’ve got cookies.  What else?

4 Comments
  1. Emilie says:

    scrambled eggs
    omelettes
    grilled cheese sandwiches
    rice
    mashed potatoes
    roast chicken
    chicken stock/soup
    spaghetti bolognese
    lasagna
    chocolate cake
    + her home favorites

  2. Michelle says:

    BKIH (big kid in house) makes a good corn-tomato-olive salad with fresh herbs and his own fruit salad. Also is a mixologist and has created some interesting juice and soda combinations. As to the list of necessary culinary achievements: pancakes, french toast, eggs (over, scrambled, hard boiled, etc.), baked chicken, mashed potatos, pasta sauce, meatballs, basic grilling (burgers and dogs), grilled cheese. More important than individual dishes is general kitchen technique-how to measure, how to test pasta and vegetables and meat for doneness, how to mix dry and wet ingredients separately when baking, and first lesson:mise en place.

  3. admin says:

    I love that grilled cheese sandwiches, mashed potatoes, and roasted chicken made the first two lists independantly – I think we have some winners! Tonight, the same Human Tape Recorder set her sights on brownies – Katherine Hepburn’s recipe, complements of the NY Cookbook. (Makes 16 brownies, serves 1.) She nailed them.

    Michele, one of the things that cracked me up was that she insisted on setting up her mise en place before she started – something she must get from all the food shows we watch; she doesn’t see me doing it too often!

  4. Chris says:

    Ditto on Emilie’s list. I also teach my kids to make the things I like because it is all about ME. So Maddie makes a mean apple pie with a homemade crust and some awesome choc. filled Ebelskiver. And both her and her older bother work wonders with the Panini press.

    But seriously, this blog hits on a topic I take very seriously. I firmly believe that kids who have real jobs around the house (and kids can generally handle more then we ask of them) will one day rule the world. Or at least they will be completely independent, happy, and living out of my house :)

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