Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids in the Kitchen
Teach a young person to cook and they learn a bounty of life skills – resourcefulness, teamwork, organization, creativity and sensory skills. As a young chef I was reared on "The Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook," which featured recipes like “Mad Hatter Meatballs” and “Polka Dot Macaroni and Cheese.” Mom let us pick our favorites, which my brothers and I would each cook in rotation for the family dinner. Later on, I remember becoming quite enamored of the “Peanuts Cook Book” and making Linus’s “Security Cinnamon Toast” and “Red Baron Root Beer.” Both volumes are still on my cookbook shelf.

At a recent gathering of old friends, we were reminiscing about learning to cook as kids and realized that many of us were alumni of the “Betty Crocker Boy's and Girls Cookbook.” Some had even memorized certain recipes even though they no longer owned a copy of the cookbook. So it’s clear that experiences in the kitchen can be formative for kids.

Think about it. When did you first learn to cook? Was there a defining moment as a youngster, or a habit learned early on in life? How does that early experience impact your eating habits, your purchasing choices and your passion for food today?

More and more professionals have recognized the importance of kids and families cooking together, particularly as issues of diet and obesity among young people become a national concern. FamilyCook Productions ( uses family time in the kitchen as an opportunity to learn, and develops curriculum for young people and their parents centered around meal time. The mission of FamilyCook Productions is to “bring families together around delicious fresh food while positively impacting their health and well being.”

And now, chef and award-winning cookbook author Rozanne Gold has published “Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes For Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients.” Rozanne, former chef to New York Mayor Ed Koch, three-time James Beard Cookbook award winner and all around neat person, pioneered the idea of simple fresh ingredients and flavorful meals with her three-ingredient approach well before anyone was trying to knock out meals in 30 minutes. Her charming volume and its companion website addresses kids in honest, enthusiastic language about the pleasures of cooking. There are whimsical recipes like “Bowties with Broccoli,” “Crazy Leg Drumsticks” and “Strawberries-in-Nightgowns” that are bound to capture the imagination of future gourmets everywhere. Not to mention a few grown-ups like me!

What was your childhood inspiration in the kitchen? I’d love to know.

© 2006 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Kat said...

I love this feature "You might also like", and this is where I found this post you posted before I started following your blog. Unfortunately, my mom's only lessons for me in the kitchen was CLEANING up after her and dinner! I had to learn from scratch, but turned out to be a pretty good cook out of necessity, with 5 children. My first soup from the can (and only can of soup we had) I burned!!! LOL! I made it a point to teach my children to cook. They still call me asking for recipes and how I cook this and that. I had some great teachers after I grew up. My husband's mom is a true southern cook and I learned to make a lot of stuff from her, and then later the art of spices in food from my own mom.