Cooks use math, science, reading, hand-eye coordination, and creativity among other things. Because of this, cooking is a terrific educational activity to do with children.
It’s also a great way to get kids to try and appreciate new foods–expanding their gastronomical horizons.
When my son was twelve, he became my vegetable sous chef. He’s learning all of the above skills and academics, but let’s get to the good part. It’s a huge help in getting dinner on the table. Talk about win-win!
Did I mention he wields a knife?
It’s sharp and pointy and comes straight from the knife block. It’s a real grown-up knife.
At this stage in his culinary career, I have no worries that he’ll hack off a hand or finger or other body part. An old pro at chopping and cutting, he started with a banana and a butter knife and worked his way up.
What your children chop, and how old they are when they begin to do it, is totally up to you and your comfort zone. In my humble estimation, kids are a lot more capable than we think they are.
For a pretty thorough article on knife skills for children check out this site by Michelle Stern.
One of his specialties is pan cooking vegetables. Simple. This particular recipe also works with other vegetables like cauliflower, bok choy, or green beans.
Pan Cooked Broccoli
1 head of broccoli
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 Tb. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.
1/8 cup water
Wash and chop broccoli into bite sized pieces. The stalk is good too so chop off the very bottom and then peel what’s left and chop it up.
Add oil to the bottom of a 12 inch skillet and heat to medium. Toss broccoli into hot pan and let brown a little, stirring occasionally.
Add garlic and grind salt and pepper over the broccoli. Stir.
Pour in water and cover. Turn heat down to low and let steam. Check after a few minutes with a fork for tenderness. When close to being done but not quite cooked, turn off heat and let sit with lid on until ready to eat.
This broccoli is delish. Sam is living proof that a kid can be useful as well as good-looking, and he takes pride in creating dishes that we love to eat. This kid really knows his way around a chopping block!