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Cooking with children
How does it not drive you mental?

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#1 Romeo Void

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:17 PM

I've tried and TRIED but having them in the kitchen with me does my head in and I usually end up waving my hands around like a crazed Italian mama and ordering them OUT!  I'm still relatively new to cooking so it's often a case of me trying to feel my way, and with them underfoot I usually end up stuffing something up...like this last weekend I used plain instead of self raising flour in the banana bread.  And oh my god the MESS!  And the fingers in EVERYTHING.

If your children help you out how do you handle this?  Do you only have one at a time, is that what I'm doing wrong?  Do you just put up with dough on the floor, the walls...the cat?  I have DD aged 6 and DS aged 4.

#2 dae-gu

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:22 PM

I definately try to have only one at a time, lol.

#3 ~sydblue~

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:25 PM

My first reply was along the lines of "Well you have to knock them out and marinate them until tender, then slow cook."

#4 MissButtercup

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:25 PM

I have a 6yo and 3yo so understand where your coming from. Have you tried just letting them decorate cup cakes, biscuits etc... after their baked? Might be a good starting point.

I am a bit of a neat freak so to start with the mess drove me crazy but after seeing the smiles on their faces from enjoying helping out I relaxed a little and just let them go crazy. After all, the walls, floors and even the cat can be washed and those happy moments are priceless wink.gif

Edited by MissButtercup, 04 February 2013 - 08:26 PM.

#5 Chicky whicky

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:25 PM

I give them a chopping board, a butter knife, and whatever vegetable I am cooking and let hem go for it. But the baking? That takes up a lot of my patience.

#6 Therese

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:26 PM

QUOTE (~sydblue~ @ 04/02/2013, 09:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My first reply was along the lines of "Well you have to knock them out and marinate them until tender, then slow cook."


#7 Fluster

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:29 PM

I'm currently teaching 11 year old DS to bake and cook.  I start well in advance and prepare myself for the mess.   We made lamingtons yesterday.  It looked like it snowed.

#8 Fillyjonk

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:32 PM

Hah. Once I went to a parenting workshop with ideas on activities you can do with kids, one of which being cooking. The speaker made the point that for some people, cooking with kids is just not their thing and you shouldn't feel bad if that is you.

However, I think perhaps your lack of familiarity with cooking is the problem. Perhaps you should practice a couple of simple recipes such that you feel completely in control when you make them. That means you can bark instructions at each stage allowing less opportunity for distraction and painting the cat with batter.

I think it probably is a better idea just to have one in at a time as well.

QUOTE (Fluster @ 04/02/2013, 08:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm currently teaching 11 year old DS to bake and cook.  I start well in advance and prepare myself for the mess.   We made lamingtons yesterday.  It looked like it snowed.

I attempted lamingtons once with a similar outcome.

Edited by with the goo goose, 04 February 2013 - 08:34 PM.

#9 lizzzard

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

I have a DD6 and DS4 as well. They love "helping" me cook but it usually drives me mad as well. My favourite recipe to make with them is mars bar slice though - I let them grease the tray (I give it an extra go-over), measure the ingredients and mix the rice bubbles into the chocolate mixture, Then the help me pat it into the pan and that's it. Oh, and they get to 'try' the mix from the bowl Tounge1.gif They love the end product and its not tooo painful biggrin.gif

#10 Romeo Void

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

QUOTE (~sydblue~ @ 04/02/2013, 09:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My first reply was along the lines of "Well you have to knock them out and marinate them until tender, then slow cook."
roll2.gif I think my son would be a little 'gamey' .

QUOTE (MissButtercup @ 04/02/2013, 09:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have a 6yo and 3yo so understand where your coming from. Have you tried just letting them decorate cup cakes, biscuits etc... after their baked? Might be a good starting point.

I am a bit of a neat freak so to start with the mess drove me crazy but after seeing the smiles on their faces from enjoying helping out I relaxed a little and just let them go crazy. After all, the walls, floors and even the cat can be washed and those happy moments are priceless wink.gif

Oh man if I let them near frosting that would be the end.  It's WW3 in my house when deciding who gets to lick which egg beater!  I'm thinking I'll start taking them on one at a time, divide and conquer and all that.

#11 Let_it_Rain

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:37 PM

I only do really, really simple things.

I'll have DS (3) assemble pizzas to be baked, or we'll make 3 ingredient pancakes and then he will watch me cook and tell me when to flip.

Anything complicated only happens when he is asleep or out of the house.

#12 KLF84

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:40 PM

I feel sorry for my ds8. He loves to cook and when he was younger it was great as he was eager to please and get it right and followed instructions well. Now he is Mr Confident who knows it all and won't listen to instruction that I end up telling him to get out the kitchen­čś×
I figure if he wants to cook now he can do it with grandma.

#13 nik_klinger

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:42 PM

QUOTE (~sydblue~ @ 04/02/2013, 09:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My first reply was along the lines of "Well you have to knock them out and marinate them until tender, then slow cook."

Awesome, exactly what i was thinking when i read the thread title. Funny funny funny.

#14 laridae

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:44 PM

Start with easy things - and expect some losses.

How about scones - its just like playdough - don't worry too much if theirs don''t rise well, or if they make snails or worms.  Its farly tactile, so keeps them occupied.

#15 katrina24

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:45 PM

I have a 5 year old and 7 year old. The 5 yo is much better helping in the kitchen.  Definitely one at a time.  Also, have a set of tasks they can do and save the ones that are for you only.  I made vege frittatas on the weekend with my 5 yo. I got her to grate the zucchini (she is experienced with this and safe). This gave me time to chop up all the other ingredients. The I cracked the eggs and let her scramble them. She poured in the milk while I whisked properly etc.  this way you can cook with them helping and without you going crazy. We usually agree on the jobs they cam do before we start so there aren't dramas during.

#16 FiveAus

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

Hmmm, mine weren't allowed to help in the kitchen until they'd grown up........actually, until they'd grown up, left home, had their own kitchens for a while so they could appreciate the cleanliness of mine.....then they were allowed to help.

But I was a terrible mother, so I'm probably not a great example to follow. Funnily enough, all of my children grew up to be really good cooks and two of them are truly fabulous.

#17 TheGreenSheep

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:49 PM

I can't. I try. But it's not something I enjoy doing with them.

#18 zogee

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:59 PM

Two at once would drive me bonkers! My daughter likes to help a lot, but she's a bit too eager to just eat the cake batter/cookie dough and not do much else wink.gif she's helped make rissoles and meat balls a few times and she's actually really good!

#19 hunter4

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:59 PM

I find that the best thing to do is try and find just one or two things in a recipe that they can do all by themselves, as PP said, cutting things up with a butter knife is good (just make sure you don't care what the final product looks like. for younger kids get them counting out choc chips/raisins or something similar (depending on what you're making)

If you are doing two kids at a time I find its best to make a double batch (or two half batches) set  one kid up on each side of me then measure out things into their bowls (usually whilst they're holding the measuring cups or spoons) then they get to stir their own bowls - this way there's no fighting and some control on my part.

But as PP said - being as pre prepared as possible is good.

#20 bettymm

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:01 PM

I can see how it wouldnt be for everyone

I quite like cooking with my 4year old DD, but we only ever do pretty simple things like muffins, easy roll out biscuits-cut into shapes, pancakes...she just mixes and i do the cooking of those.

Big big mess is a given but i dont mind..it all wipes up easy enough.  I measure out all the things and she loves adding it all to the big bowl, having a mix and then of course a lick of the bowl.  

I actually prefer this kind of thing to do together than setting up painting or play dough.  Hate that kind of mess more!  and there is a yummy (hopefully) end result!

#21 Funwith3

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:08 PM

QUOTE (Fluster @ 04/02/2013, 09:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We made lamingtons yesterday.  It looked like it snowed.


Cooking with two kids is stressful. Mine fight over jobs, who got the better job, who's turn it is, who's encroaching on the other one's side of the bench etc etc. And then a cup of walnuts gets dropped onto the floor, I start yelling and they get up and leave.

Must try and be more patient.

I am aware that teaching kids to cook will benefit me in the long run - cant wait for the night I can ask the kids to cook dinner!! Even if its nachos, I will be rapt!!  hands.gif

#22 whale-woman

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:11 PM

I actually like cooking with DD who's 3. She's useful for stirring stuff, mashing stuff (like the banana for banana bread) and I do the measuring and she tips the ingredients in. She's usually happy as a pig in mud (and looks a bit similar) licking out bowls/spoons.
I often get her to help make banana bread or bake cookies (which she then cuts out and decorates) to keep her amused. Yesterday we made frozen colored milk cubes (it kept her amused for half an hour stirring the milk as colors were added.) I also find she's more likely to eat something if she's helped cook it (she wanted peas and corn added to her omelete she was helping with today and she gobbled it all up).  biggrin.gif

She's also great for collecting ingredients from the garden if anything needs picking/collecting. eg eggs or lemons.

Edited by whale-woman, 04 February 2013 - 09:14 PM.

#23 Funnington

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

If you are new to the enjoyment of cooking, I don't think it's probably ideal to incorporate other 'learners' in to the kitchen with you.  Yes, that would drive me batty.  

To be honest, my impatient, messy son does drive me mad when he wants to 'help' but, I've nutted it out now - I get him on the less messy duty's that don't cause me to blow a gasket (particularly if I'm tired and impatient already).

Jobs like:

- Fill a sink with about 2 inches of water and once you've peeled and cut the ends of carrots, beans or peeled potatoes - ask them to wash them for you and put them in a dish ready for cooking.

- Get a cheap set of scales and once food is prepared (the less messy kind) like the peeled & washed vegies, ask them to see how much they weigh on the scales.

- If you're just in the discovering stage yourself, DO NOT start with making cupcakes and letting them measure flours, sugars etc.  You just end up with it from a/hole to breakfast time causing said blown gasket.  Be sneaky - get all the powdery, fine ingredients ready without telling them and ask them to put the cupcake liners into a muffin tray.  Get them to grease the muffin pans or, mash a soft banana with a fork in a big bowl.

- Buy the canola spray in a can and let them spray the cake tins or draw around cake pans on the lining paper and cut out with their scissors (it doesn't matter if it's not perfectly cut)

There are other less tedious (annoying) things I get my son to do and can't think of all of them now.  If I remember when I'm not exhausted, I'll let you know.  But, you should let them in to your cooking world with little, important jobs that will encourage a love of food and making things yourselves.

I do understand your pain though - sometimes I do want to wave and flap around like a crazy Italian woman but, I try and keep in mind his interest too.  It just takes some forward thinking rather than all traipsing in the kitchen 'okay, let's make a souffle, you can measure and sift the flour' wacko.gif  < my idea of hell!

Edited by Funnington, 04 February 2013 - 09:24 PM.

#24 VioletRose

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:25 PM

If you are able to break the tasks down into small enough tasks even very small cooks can make good food.
Some things that help are breaking eggs into a dish so the egg shells can be removed before egg is added to dish. Pour milk into a smaller container so they can't spill 2+ liters of milk on the floor. Mix a batter by hand before using the electric beaters if you don't want flour etc all over the walls.
Table knives can cut lots of things but are pretty safe for young fingers. Scissors work for other things. Cutting vegies into more stable shapes make it much easier and safer for learners to use sharp knives. Eg cut a potato in half lengthwise then put cut surface on chopping board.
Once you have them trained in meal prep it's like having your own mini kitchen hand, complete with the inevitable tantrums too!

With a few little helpers I prefer them to work on different tasks in different parts of the kitchen to lessen fights. Sometimes this means someone chopping or mixing at the dining table instead of actually in the kitchen

#25 Happypinks

Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:29 PM

My 3.5 yr DD is at the stage of wanting to be mummy so i let her make her own sandwiches and recently she has mastered peeling veg so that takes her ages while I do the potentially messy stuff. Once a a week we will bake biscuits or slice or something she can stir or kneed in a bowl. Ill also let her put icing on cupcakes at her table with her apron on.

Now whether I do this when my 17 month old is old enough to want to join in, im not sure!!

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