I remember being younger than Bunny when my mom would turn me loose in the kitchen and let me cook (mostly things like scrambled eggs, pancakes, or soup...). Now that she's almost 8.5 (and we have a baby on the way), I've been making more of a concerted effort to teach her how to cook simple things. She's really excited about our lessons and always says, "Do I get to make this when Bundle is here?"
The funny thing is that it's Wallie who, at the moment, has the patience for the start-to-finish—the reading of the recipes, the gathering of ingredients, the cooking and the clean up. Bunny prefers to come into the kitchen, help for awhile, then leave. She isn't much for the details.
Having said that, her repetoire now includes: making scrambled eggs (she knows to keep the pan on low, stir gently, and to take them off the stove while the eggs are still glossy), making toast (and checking to make sure the toaster is off), heating up her favorite veggie sausages in the microwave, and making tomato soup from scratch (and adding a little honey if the tomatoes are too acidic).
A side note: she can also make hard boiled and poached eggs in our egg cooker which is a great gadget for kids (and makes cooking eggs SO easy—just don't ever fill it up all the way with water or the eggs get over-cooked.)
Last night we tackled chili.
I don't use a recipe when making chili. It's always a variation on the same theme:
- diced onions (pre-diced onions from Trader Joe's are perfect for this, especially if kids are cooking)
- smashed garlic
- a pound of ground beef or turkey
- a can or two of drained pinto, black, or kidney beans (with beef) or drained cannelini beans (with turkey)—or all beans (and maybe some diced zucchini) for veggie chili
- a can of diced green chilis (with turkey)
- a large can of diced tomatoes (usually with the beef, sometimes with both)
- Penzey's chili powder
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- a pinch of cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- if I have it, a half bottle or so of beer (as long as it's not dark and bitter, Corona or Heineken are perfect)
And the toppings include:
- diced avocado
- chopped onions
- shredded cheese
- minced fresh cilantro
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- lime wedges
- jalapeños en escabeche
- hot sauce or salsa
- tortilla chips (if I have them) or rice (Hawaiian style!)
Last night I turned Bunny loose on this loose recipe. She learned how to use a can opener for the first time, opening all the beans and tomato cans. I taught her to taste for salt as she goes. To add a little water if the consistency didn't look right. A measuring lesson is up next because those teaspoons and tablespoons can be confusing (I don't measure, but I'm trying to teach Bunny about proportions of things.) But overall, she did a great job, and the chili was delicious. Not a drop was left!