People always ask me why I love cooking: did you take some classes when you were little, is your Masters in Food and Beverage, etc.? Not at all. I think treasuring cooking is very simple. In my family, cooking was part of our daily life. Seeing my mum cooking every day and me helping her naturally gave me love for food. At home we rarely baked together, but often I helped her to make soups or salads. She never forced me to eat vegetables and never asked me to cook. Everything was very natural. And today I’m grateful to her for this!
Cooking with kids has a lot of benefits.
1. It’s fun and having fun with your child in the kitchen builds positive memories, good vibes, and good food.
2. Cooking provides an opportunity for kids to get hands-on experience with basic science. Too much salt, baking powder, not enough flour, or the wrong timing, and you’re likely to have a flop on your hands.
3. It gives you the chance to introduce them to fresh, healthy food and testing out interesting ways of cooking it.
Parents often complain that kids don’t want to eat vegetables. Have you ever tried to cook veggies with them and offer them the chance to enjoy what they prepared? Cooking allows kids to get instant feedback, which helps them learn and grow in self-knowledge.
For example, My sister in law often struggled to my niece anything other than pasta. One day during vacation, I invited her to cook some baked vegetables with me. First she discovered real vegetables she heard about. Second, she learned the name of new vegetables as well as where and how they grow, last but not least she was so proud for having cut so many vegetables that she couldn’t stand the waiting needed before she could taste what she prepared.
Many parents tend to bake instead of cook because it’s easier. Indeed preparing vegetables can sometimes be difficult with kids, as they need to use a knife. But this needn’t always be difficult.
I remember this amazing cooking workshop with a 4-year-old little girl, preparing my favorite kid recipe, the Clown salad (I’ve shared this with you below). This recipe is the first one I made by myself with one of my friend when we were 7 years old. We were so proud for having this fun idea and also very proud to become the cook of the house for one day!
Maybe you don’t know where to start with your own child for helping encourage a delight in cooking, so I’ve shared two delightful recipes below, including my childhood favorite. The video for French crepes I’ve linked to is in Chinese so your ayi can make it! Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you desire the recipe in English. (Note: If you can’t load the video in mobile, please click on “French Crepes Video” header.)
Ingredients: 1 head lettuce, 1 can corn, 4 cherry tomatoes, 1 tomato, 1 can black olives, 1 cucumber, 2 eggs, French mustard dressing
• Cut off the stem of the lettuce. Thoroughly clean leaves under cold water.
• Rinse 3 times. Dry the leaves in a colander, shaking off excess water. Tear the leaves into thirds.
• Wash the tomatoes, cut off the stems and cut tomatoes into quarters.
• Wash the cucumber. Peel and slice it in half lengthwise.
• Slice 4 black olives. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
• Strain the liquid from the can of corn.
• Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water.
• Place over the stove. Once the water starts simmering, begin timing. Boil eggs for 8 minutes. Remove from the stove and put them into cold water. When the eggs are cold enough, peel and slice them.
• Arrange the vegetables in each plate to form a clown.
• The lettuce will be the hair; the tomato, the mouth; eggs and olives, the eyes; the cucumber, the bow tie; the cherry tomato, the nose; the corn, the shoulders. The clown’s make-up is French mustard dressing.
Olivia is from South of France and is a food lover with an eye for nutrition. When she arrived in China she felt the need to iron out everyday kitchen problems so decided to teach her wonderful Ayi about balanced meals by introducing her to Western food culture. “Cuisine mei wenti” Academy was born out of this need. Later in 2014, as she became a busy mum, she realized how cooking varied food for her little girl was important. This is how she came up with Babyfood Program. Follow her on wechat: guinebaultolivia, email her at email@example.com, or sign up for her newsletter on www.cuisinemeiwenti.com/blog, where this article originally appeared.
Photos: Courtesy of Olivia Guinebault