My big summer plan for DC1

DC1 is 7.  Seven is a wonderful year and a wonderful height.

DC1 will be going to museum camp, and doing hir workbooks, and swimming lessons and piano lessons, and no doubt reading lots of great novels and playing all sorts of games (card, computer, video, board, etc.).  There will be a week being spoiled by the in-laws, and no doubt a weekend or two with my sister.

But I, too, have a nefarious plan in store for DC1.

This summer DC1 will learn how to cook.  In fact, this summer DC1 will cook for us with minimal help at least once a week and will be a sous chef for us on a regular basis.

Ze already makes excellent scrambled eggs, and fantastic macaroni and cheese (from a box with extra cheese added, and also tuna and peas).  This summer we will add more to hir repertoire.

I hope this will be an investment that pays out many-fold.  :)

We made a list.  It says:  chocolate chip cookies (chewy), pizza, ice cream, split pea soup, Japanese rice (for sushi), spaghetti, pancakes, waffles, muffins (blueberry), tacos, queso, shrimp, shakes.  It’s a little different than what I learned to cook first (eggs, crepes, chili, spaghetti with meat sauce, macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas, box brownies, swiss steak, chicken cacciatore, spaghetti carbonara, regular rice), though with some overlap.

Many of my fondest childhood memories are in the kitchen.  When did you learn how to cook?  What did you first learn how to cook?  When did your kids learn (if appropriate)?  Any exciting summer plans?


66 Responses to “My big summer plan for DC1”

  1. Chelsea Says:

    I learned to cook from my college boyfriend (now husband). He’s still a much better cook than me and makes 95% of our meals. I’m not sure why I was never included in meal prep when I was growing up. Maybe because before dinner was “homework time”. Anyway, my MIL is an excellent cook, and DH picked up a lot of skills from her.

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    It’s not like me to recommend spending money on something, but . . . Chop Chop Magazine [] has made cooking with my own kids *way* fun. My boys, who are not avid readers by any stretch, love looking through the magazine and have used it for culinary adventures that I never would have thought of.

  3. omdg Says:

    Did DC1 express interest in cooking, or did you decide ze was going to do this? I would love to get my daughter more involved in the kitchen (pouring her own cereal, mixing things, etc.) but it’s difficult because she is 2 and can’t reach anything. She is awesome at loading the dishwasher though.

  4. Griffin Says:

    Sarah at writes often about teaching her children to cook. They are teenagers now and each have a night. I love the concept and plan to implement when my two-year-old twins are ready to learn. Since birth they have been watching me cook. I learned omelets early, and one of my most memorable Christmas gifts was my own omelet pan from my grandparents.

  5. Foscavista Says:

    S/he is going to learn how to make queso (blanco)? Why not throw in how to make ricotta?

  6. Liz Says:

    I think as with many things, my (twin) sister and I one day decided we were supposed to learn how to cook so we could help and/or continue Growing Up. This is also how we decided we needed to know how to read before we got to kindergarten, and also made my dad practice saying the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance. Precocious much?

    The first thing I remember cooking on our own, aside from boxed macaroni and cheese, was a recipe for something like cheeseburger macaroni from Taste of Home. We must have been around DC1’s age. We always got to help my mom make things when we were younger (rolling meatballs or cookie dough, stirring the pancake batter with dad, making Thanksgiving stuffing…) and our mom is as much a foodie as is possible with twin terrors. I mean angels. We devoured cooking magazines like ToH and Country Woman, and watched cooking shows on PBS. Being able to CONTINUE cooking in my mother’s kitchen, however, was a different story. Her domain, don’t cross the threshhold!

    Something else you might inspire in the repertoire is pudding –> homemade pudding popsicles. It is summer, after all! :)

  7. Saskia Says:

    “and will be a sous chef for us on a regular basis.”

    Dunno exactly what you had in mind for this, but this is how my partner was taught how to cook.

    As a result, ze is an excellent cook.

    Also as a result, ze hates cooking, which ze associates with being bossed around. (Even though I’m sure that, in fact, only gentle guidance was actually involved)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s funny, I was also a sous chef for my parents on a regular basis and that has resulted in some of my fondest memories of bonding with my family. Guess people aren’t all the same.

  8. Flavia Says:

    I never learned to cook, really. I baked with my mom, which I really enjoyed, but cooking, no. (Not sure why–we ate home-cooked meals nearly every night when I was growing up.)

    Luckily, my spouse is an amazing and adventurous cook. He taught me to make a couple of dishes, like risotto, and I love his cooking. But left on my own I’m content to heat up soup or eat sandwiches. And that’s pretty much what I lived on until we got together in my mid-30s.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Even though I’ve known how to cook forever, when I’m on my own, the most I can get myself to do is microwave a potato (or more likely, a frozen dinner), or maybe make spaghetti which I will then proceed to eat every meal for the rest of the week. I should not be left alone to feed myself.

  9. Sapience Says:

    7 was around when I started learning to cook, too, but for the first few years it was always as sous chef, never as primary. My mom taught us cooking (mostly Italian or American dishes, with some Asian), and my dad taught us baking. In the summers, we also started learning to can and freeze veggies from our garden. I made jam (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry) and pickles (zucchini and cucumber, both dill and sweet). This was particularly fun, and I was given a bit more control of this than I was of regular cooking, which seems weird to me now. But I got good enough at it that a few years later I was entering the results in the county and state fairs.

    But I didn’t *really* start learning to cook on my own until I was about 14, which was when my Dad was employed full time again for the first time in a few years, and my mom was working 12 hour night shifts at the hospital, so there was only about 2 hours between when my mom woke up and had to go work, and my dad would get home about 45 minutes before she had to leave. Since they still wanted us to have dinner as a family, my parents handed me the recipe box and said “You’re making dinner 3 nights a week, depending on Mom’s work schedule. You know the basic skills, figure it out. Let us know what you want on the grocery list for next week.”

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I did a lot of that as a teen as well– my parents had jobs that kept them apart for long periods of time and it was really helpful to have me able to cook. I think my sister didn’t have to do so much of that because I took over that role– it probably would have been good if she’d had to do it too. When she does cook, it’s good, but even now she occasionally calls me up to ask me how to do things. (She also makes a lot of money and lives in a restaurant district, which decreases the need to cook on a regular basis.)

      • Sapience Says:

        My sister got the experience a few years later when I went off to school–she was about 14 or 15 when I went to college, and she took over the cooking at home. These days, we share recipes constantly, and when we’re visiting our parents at the same time, we fight for the kitchen (and the right to make our personal favorites).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I don’t know why my sister didn’t get that same experience. It is a mystery to me (since I wasn’t there!) Possibly because she was so busy with after school activities and went to a private school 30-45 min away from home.

  10. Leigh Says:

    My parents never taught me how to cook. Well, my dad is old in my books and doesn’t know how. My mom did all the cooking and I didn’t want to ever end up in the situation where I as the woman had to do all the cooking, so I refused any efforts to learn how to cook other than making pasta until a couple years ago when I was 23 or 24 or so. It didn’t help matters for me that if my mom wasn’t home, my dad thought I was in charge of the cooking as the next oldest woman. Sigh.

    My boyfriend hasn’t been super interested in cooking, but he does agree that leftovers are even more convenient than takeout and some of these recipes don’t actually take that long to make and are reasonably delicious that he’ll go along with the cooking.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My dad is also old (and has voiced similar beliefs about chores being woman’s work), but when he was a single bachelor, he took cooking classes in SF and is thus classically trained. He makes soup from stock. (My partner is a much more equal partner in household chores, as is his dad.)

      • Leigh Says:

        Oh, my dad didn’t cook when he was a bachelor. Still doesn’t. My boyfriend’s dad does and my boyfriend is just fine at cooking.

        I’m glad you are teaching your kids to cook young! If I did that with my (future hypothetical) kids, I would probably get some grumbling from my mom about how kids shouldn’t be doing work. If I do have kids some day, there will be a lot of grumbling from her as she very strongly believes that daycare/nannies are a terrible way to raise children. My boyfriend and I have been using a grocery delivery service this year and it has been a life-saver. It makes it so much easier to cook. My parents tell me we are just being lazy and should make time to go to the grocery store. Some days, I definitely wished my mom had a job outside of the house when I was growing up and now I definitely do because it would help her understand some of the decisions my boyfriend and I make a lot better. Apparently parental grumbling is a normal thing we just have to deal with. Ah well.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Maybe she’s volunteering to be nanny.

  11. First Gen American Says:

    My mom is a horrible teacher. I learned to cook at the restaurants I worked in in high school and college. I also was forced to learn other things because my mom would bombard me with produce from the garden or foraging…so when it is blueberry season, you learn how to make things with blueberries. When you have gallons of currants, you learn how to make jelly.

    My kids have been helping me make pizza since they were old enough to stand on a chair and steal toppings. They find it fun but I like your idea do adding more to the list. They have baked with me since they were really small but haven’t done much independently. They generally like cooking if there is food they can munch on during the process or if there are cool tools involved. (licking bowls, operating food processors, etc).

    On a related note, we make a summer fun list every year…mainly because summer is so short here and we want to make sure we get to do all the fun stuff.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We did pizza last week (we’ve been doing some “together” stuff as sous with lots of explanations and instructions before ze is on hir own)– bbq chicken pizza. Ze was super excited and the pizza was really good.

      DH is hoping that DC1 will get a sense of what ze can do without a recipe. He has a theory that kids who learn to cook young develop a sense about what substitutions can be made and how to get the effect they’re looking for and it’s much harder when you learn to cook as an adult. I don’t know if that’s true or not (my personal theory is that I figured out what doesn’t work through trial and error when I was a kid, and DH is going through that process), but I’m happy for my kids to learn cooking young!

      My father also did a lot of the bulk stuff… so applesauce and apple pie and apple (raspberry) rhubarb pie and apple fritters etc. etc. etc. and raspberry smoothies from our yard and then I can make leek and potato soup and guacamole and peach pie and peach (raspberry) compote because he can’t pass up a deal on produce that’s about to go bad.

      Last summer Scratch was on our list. This summer, cooking!

  12. gwinne Says:

    This is totally brilliant. LG is 10. Maybe we should do this.

    Of course I think I’d prefer that she did the laundry…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DC1 has been helping with the laundry since ze was 3 at least (the beauty of front loaders!). Ze did a lot of the laundry when I was pregnant with DC2. The only part ze couldn’t do was putting soap in and turning dials because even with a stool ze wasn’t tall enough. I think ze is tall enough now… (ponder…)

      DC2 insists on putting away hir clothes in hir drawers, which is adorable (though messy).

  13. bogart Says:

    I did some basic baking as a teen, and food prep as a babysitter, but didn’t really learn to cook until I was on my own (if at all). I’m still not a particular enthusiast. I did get my mom to show me how to cook her very good chicken soup when I was in college (tasty, cheap, nutritious — what’s not to like) and otherwise have mostly improvised/learned as needed. Most basic cooking is not hard, and I am not very interested in learning more complicated cooking. DS bakes a few things and we make stove popcorn together, but I have to admit I am nervous about having him around knives and stoves. This isn’t a general statement about kids his age (same as your DC1), but he is bouncy like, Tigger-bouncy, and not great in the fine-motor department. And I tend to want to keep cooking as simple as possible, which means doing it myself. He and I will focus on other stuff together. My sense is that my stepkids learned to cook about the way I did, i.e. a few basic staples in the teen years and then well once they were in college (both are good cooks).

    Exciting summer plans: having decided last summer that my reluctance to spend on camps for DS was false economy (also, it was his first summer of camps, so decisions had been made without data on his opinion of camps, which turns out to be wildly positive, not really surprising. He is active, and social.), I have enrolled DS in lots of camps and am feeling good about that. He is going to be doing all kinds of cool things, and spending lots of time with other people his age, which he very much needs and enjoys. Plus, we have cousins visiting for two weeks, a short beach trip planned in that same time, and two weeks of family vacation that will take DH to an area he’s always wanted to visit and that I visited only briefly only once and would like to get back to.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hee, when DC1 was younger we HAD to have summer camps just for our sanity– this is the first summer when we’re like, well, whatever ze wants. (Ze wants to go back to the same day camp, so no change from last year.)

      • bogart Says:

        Well, full disclosure, most prior summers have involved paid daycare/preschool, it just wasn’t any different from the school “year!” Because, right. And really, if I had one thing I’d do differently about DS’s childhood so far, it would be to make more use of that, too!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        ah, we ran out of preschool when DC1 started kindergarten, hence the daycamp! Plus the daycamp specifically runs during those weeks when preschool/school is closed (one week in December, and during Spring Break). Which is awesome.

    • bogart Says:

      Oh darn, I forgot to mention, when I was feeling more ambitious in this realm, I enrolled in the EdX MOOC, Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter. It looked interesting, but like most MOOC enrollers, I never actually participated — I was having some problems with audio on my laptop when it started and just never got rolling. But I had initially thought I might try it out and share some parts of it with DS (and who knows, I may yet). The video portions of the whole thing are on YouTube (as I’m sure are other related offerings), so while I cannot actually speak to either its quality or its appropriateness, it might also be of interest to you and your DC.

  14. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    Will DC2 see DC1 and want to help? I’ve been toying with trying to teach the 7-year-old, but the 2-year-old will want to get in on it. And this often makes for disasters, which I’m worried will be frustrating for all involved.

  15. Ana Says:

    My mom was a SAHM who cooked home made food for every meal, so its somewhat astounding that I didn’t learn to cook until I got my first apartment later in college (I learned the summer before, working with my mom). I think she didn’t really enjoy the process so got it done quickly, usually while we were in school, so that it was done. Also she’s burned herself a few times and might have felt unsafe having us hover? My dad can’t boil water, for reals. I worry about them as they age.
    I used to have B help a lot, standing on a stool, mixing and adding spices and such, but like bogart mentioned above—bouncy kid on stool near stove resulted in a pretty big 2nd degree burn on his arm last summer when he somehow bounced up off the stool and down hitting his arm on the hot stove. Now he’s 4 and is less bouncy, but if he’s on the stool, little brother (who is 2 and a terror and hell-bent on self- and generalized destruction) needs to be on a stool, too, and my nerves cannot handle that.
    I have several friends whose 8-9 year olds take over one night.
    Definitely share updates on this project! I am really interested in anything related to kids and chores, because I’ve realized that we’ve slacked in that department and have some catching up to do. As a 2-year-old my son wanted to HELP with everything, but now “its not fun to put my clothes away, its not fun to clean up”. He always wants to help with cooking though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t think it’s all that astounding when kids with SAHP don’t learn to cook… working parents are more likely to need their kids to help out in the kitchen just for time reasons.

      I burned myself and cut myself a bunch learning to cook, but only little burns and the scars are all gone. As long as we keep it mostly safe (no deep frying, learning appropriate stove and oven safety, being supervised while cutting) I think a few small burns and even some small nicks will be ok. DC1 is pretty cautious so hopefully we won’t lose any fingers. We’re doing only serrated knives at this point so as to minimize potential damage.

      We do do most of the cutting etc. on the kitchen island, far away from the stove. And so far DH has been doing most of the putting in the oven part (we do have a big wooden pizza thingy for putting pizzas in the oven).

      • Ana Says:

        We have to make sure there is an adult around to restrain the 2 year old when another adult opens the oven these days. Sigh.
        No you’re absolutely right that a few minor cuts and burns are par for the course…this was a little more severe than that, and kept him from swimming for a few weeks, which sucked during the summer. I do wish we had an island, but we don’t have much counter space.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Back when we had an apartment with no counter space, we set up a cutting station in the dining room (aka the room where we ate)– would that be a possibility?

  16. Mutant Supermodel Says:

    Hmmm I am pretty sure there weren’t many cooking lessons. I recall a salmon dish with sour cream in the oven… My mother loves loves loves to cook and thinks of it as HER time so I don’t think she was really motivated to have us help. I kind of remember her being annoyed when I wanted to learn. We did bake things together and that was fun but it wasn’t something we did all the time and it definitely did not lead to me being a baking diva.
    The one thing I am really looking forward to in the summer is the time thing. My oldest is way overdue for more consistent chores in the house as is his younger sister but during the school year it’s a complete crazy making experience making a schedule and sticking to it. Not to mention, we don’t have every weekend together. Summer things chill out in a big way and i am excited about that. I don’t even think I am going to put them in much camp this year. They will have lots of time in the house and I would like to teach them these handy house things. I am particularly thrilled about teaching them to use the crock pot and by getting them to wash the laundry way more often.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The salmon dish I learned was from my mom– she’s the master of super simple party dishes. Sliced onion rounds cover the bottom of a 13×9 pan. Then you put the salmon on top (preferably half the fish deboned, skin side down, but steaks work too and so do filets if that’s what you have). Then if you have lemon juice you pour some over the top (or OJ if you don’t have lemon). Then you put sliced citrus rounds (lemon, orange, probably other citrus would work if you have it) on top covering the fish. Then bake in the oven according to however you’re supposed to bake fish.

      I bet you have a great summer!

  17. Kay Cookie Says:

    I was planning on doing some basic “cooking” and some other self help skills this summer for my 5 and 7 year old – not as ambitious because I am expecting a new baby in July (plus the 2 year old to deal with). We were going to spend a week working on all kinds of sandwiches because I am tired of making them for them. Also, a week with salad (our lettuce is going bonkers right now, so it will be from garden all the way to the table). Scrambled eggs. Learning to use the rice cooker. More work on pouring drinks – they are so reluctant to do this. And learning to use our new can opener. This post is making me want to be more ambitious. I am mostly a SAHM (teaching part-time engineering as well), but I am determined my kids will leave home knowing how to cook, clean, and operate the house much better than I learned (from my SAHM).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yay food! Yeah, the 7 and 5 year olds should start taking care of you rather than the other way around. :)

      p.s. jealous on the salad greens

      p.p.s. DC1 made scrambled eggs for breakfast burritos for dinner today (then assembled hir own burrito)

  18. Alyssa Says:

    I learned a bit here and there when I was in grade 7 and up from my mom, but it wasn’t a regular thing. It wasn’t until I was living with my now DH that I developed a real interest in it.

    Our oldest (3.5 years) is really keen on it, and I get him to help anytime I can. I hope he keeps that interest! Our secret goal is for him to become a world famous chef :)

  19. Eli Rabett Says:

    So Eli was headed to grad school and someone called up and said he was looking for a roommate and he was quite happy to clean and do the dishes as long as I could cook. But of course said Eli, and trotted off to Grandma Bunny for some lessons. Worked out well, the roommate and Eli were friends for life.

  20. Carla Says:

    Sounds like a good plan!! :) I learned to cook YOUNG or else we wouldn’t have eaten. Truth. My middle daughter is 11 and I think it’s time i’ve taught her some cooking skills as well… besides the microwave I mean. :P

  21. oil_garlic Says:

    I sort of learned to cook when I went away in college. My mom worked and did the cooking, but I never did more than help, as in rolling up wontons or de-tailing shrimp. I really learned to cook in my mid-20s when my boyfriend/now husband taught me a few good recipes. Nowadays I prep a lot and can make several good dishes. I still leave most of the cooking to him!

  22. Debbie M Says:

    I learned to cook in several places:
    1) Camping trips with the Girl Scouts. This set my expectations very low. Using stainless steel pans instead of aluminum and a cheese grater instead of a dull knife still feels like luxury living! After college, Mom gave me a set of Revereware (copper-bottom lightweight stainless steel pans) that I still use today, 30 years later.
    2) Mom let me into the kitchen to work on a cooking badge. (I invented peanut butter cake during this period.) Then she kicked me out again. She did let us watch, so we weren’t completely clueless. And I remember helping to stir the fruitcake batter a couple of times.
    3) Home ec class in high school. There were two good things I learned there. First, we had to put together a cookbook of at least x recipes in each of y categories (with x and y being around 8 or 10). So I got all my favorite recipes from my mom. The other is that we had to visit some grocery stores and do comparison shopping on one item. You’ll be happy to know that the item I selected was cheese. I went overboard and looked at way more stuff than was required, many kinds of cheese as well as many brands, etc. I was amazed by how much money you could save by grating your own parmesan.
    4) Various roommates over the years. (I learned about things like rubber spatulas and kitchen scissors and still use a few recipes from them like quiche and taco salad and tuna biscuit bake).

    I’m not sure what I learned to cook first. My favorite cooking accomplishment was camping with my Senior Girl Scout troop. We had I think 6 members (maybe 8), so we had 2-person patrols. My best friend and I were in charge of dinner for one camping trip. We wowed people with spaghetti (requiring the ever elusive boiling water), garlic bread, pizza (in a charcoal oven made of cardboard and tinfoil–3 bricks of charcoal per 100 degrees), and salad and a cheesecake (admittedly from a no-cook mix which we chilled in the cooler).

    My favorite cooking disaster was when I was a camp counselor and my campers added too much water to the pizza dough mix. “Does this look like the sort of dough you could throw into the air to stretch?” We cooked it like a pancake, so it worked out after all. (Unlike super overcooked pasta which, while it still looks like it’s in shapes, just feels like mush in your mouth.)

    What my mom started teaching me crazy young was embroidery–I was an expert by the time I was a Junior Girl Scout which was grades 4-6 so for me that was by age 8.5. My dad taught us how to dive.

    No exciting plans for the summer at this time.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That sounds like a pretty useful home ec class. In fact, it sounds like you had a lot of formal opportunities to learn cooking, but they don’t seem to push that on girls anymore.

      • Debbie M Says:

        And it annoys me that cooking shows, where a lot of people learn new skills, don’t show measuring and usually show using a lot of different tools, so everyone thinks they need a lot of different tools. Really, each tool has advantages in terms of what they help you do and how fast and disadvantages such as cost, cleaning time, and storage space. Some tools are safer than others, too.

        I’m surprised so many of your readers do know how to cook. It’s so easy to get food in other ways that many people of both genders never really learn.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Our readers are obviously multi-talented. :) Or maybe the ones who choose not to cook aren’t saying much.

  23. engprof Says:

    This is a great idea! I can’t wait until my two little ones are a bit older so they can do more in the kitchen. They are 1 1/2 and 3, and they already do a lot. Rolling dough, washing fruit and veggies, stirring; and the 3-yr-old has started cutting with butter knives (making guacamole is his specialty). For those worried about kiddos getting close to the stove or grabbing your sharp knives, we found an investment in the Luca and Co. Little Pod (basically a box with an adjustable riser so they can reach the kitchen island) is awesome. It keeps them safe in one place and no accidental falls off of chairs to reach the counter (which kept happening until we got this!).

  24. Kellen Says:

    Mom made dinner every night, and in theory wanted to teach us how to cook stuff, but always got impatient and grabbed the cooking implements away to do it “properly” herself (I mostly remember this with cooking ground beef, since I wasn’t getting the lumps small enough.)
    I mostly grated cheese and had to shape raw beef into hamburger patties, since mom hated handling it.
    They wouldn’t let me use knives, and for some reason didn’t invest in vegetable peelers (mom and dad just peeled everything the “cool” way, with a knife) so I barely knew how to peel an apple. I did really love baking, and I did a lot of that.
    I’ve learned that I can cook whatever I want now, pretty much, if there’s a recipe to follow. What I try and avoid cooking is anything that mom made us as kids, since that always comes out tasting “wrong.”
    My sister somehow turned out to be a much better cook, but I think that’s because she enjoys food more than I do.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Thankfully they have those mechanical apple peeler-corers that work beautifully. Assuming all you need to peel are apples.

      My DH spent a long time perfecting his grandma’s recipes and finally got a couple of them “right” — though I preferred some of the “mistakes”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: