cooking with kids

My 3 1/2 year old likes to cook and bake with me.  We should have been doing it more often, but honestly, I can’t hear myself think above his chatter and I have often ended up making mistakes when we’ve worked together.  Not anymore!  I have found a system that works:  mise en place.  Yeah Baby, I broke out the French for this one.  While my boy is otherwise engaged, I set everything up, including pre-measuring the ingredients.  He gets to do the dumping and the stirring and such.  Pre-measuring means there are a few more dishes to wash, but I think it’s worth it.  

Lest you think he is getting off easy or that he will not understand all that goes into meal preparation, he is still required to help with cleaning up.  When I can figure out how to get him to stop talking (without using duct tape) I’ll let him help measure.  

For all you smarties who are saying “well, duh!”  why didn’t you tell me?


Edit:  Hey!  I’m pretty sure that makes me the sous chef!  I had a feeling he was the boss.


7 thoughts on “cooking with kids

  1. Leigh Ann says:

    I know what you mean! When I start cooking with Daniel, it is a mile a minute with the questions–usually the same one over and over and over again. I nearly go insane. But he loves to help and it makes him so proud of himself. So I will have to try this idea.

  2. Anita (unashamed) says:

    Yeah, it took me a while to figure that out too. When the kids were young (really too young to be doing what I expected) I had big plans for Christmas baking. We’d have hot chocolate! Listen to Christmas carols! Happily bake and sample cookies! Not. It usually ended with me frustrated and the kids bewildered. I finally figured out that they really only cared about the decorating part, and once I took over the preparation and let them go to town on the decorating, everybody was much happier.

  3. sara says:

    Leigh Ann, yep Jack asks the same thing again and again and it usually involves him skipping three steps ahead in the recipe or asking if he can make some kind of excavation site out of the food. (He loves digging, diggers, dig sites, mud, dirt, machines, etc. and food just looks like another digging medium to him.)

    Beth, I am surprised you didn’t think of this. You often inspire me with your kid activities and organization.

    Anita, So YOU’RE the smartie. And what about my FRENCH! Is that ‘s’ silent or what? 🙂

  4. Anita says:

    Not the smartie – hey you figured it out long before I did!

    I would pronounce it mees ahn plass, but I don’t know what it means. Something in place?

  5. sara says:

    I think it translates to mean “put in place” but when I’ve heard/read it used it has meant that everything is in place and ready to go. The stuff a prep cook does – chopping and stuff.

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