Kids in the Kitchen
by Stephanie Hobby
photos courtesy of Raddish Kids
Family dinners are a wonderful opportunity to connect at the end of the day, and valuable life skills can be learned immediately before the meal by cooking together. Kids also tend to be more eager to try new foods if they’ve been involved in some aspect of the preparation. With the help of the Internet and a variety of kid-friendly cookbooks, it’s relatively easy to find recipes that will fit your child’s experience level and comfort in navigating the kitchen.
One easy option is Italian chicken and roasted vegetables:
• Four-five chicken breasts
• 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen green beans
• 4-5 new potatoes, quartered
• Italian dressing
• 1/4 melted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken breasts in the middle of a greased 13x9” baking dish, with green beans on one side and potatoes on the other. Sprinkle with melted butter and Italian dressing. Cover with foil and bake for an hour.
If it's hard to find time to search for recipes, subscription services can be a lifesaver. Twelve years ago, Samantha Barnes was teaching middle school and noticed a recurring theme: students were watching the Food Network, wanting to learn to cook, but didn't have a way to learn. For many, extracurricular activities were packing their schedules, leaving very little time for them to learn their way around the kitchen. Barnes' mother owned a cookware store, and so Barnes knew the value of cooking as a life skill and started teaching cooking classes for kids around the Los Angeles area.
Those classes evolved into birthday parties and summer camps and eventually launched as Raddish, a nationwide subscription service with easy-to-follow, kid-friendly recipes. Each month, subscribers receive a cooking kit, complete with a grocery list, recipes and tabletop cards with ideas for conversation starters. As a former social studies teacher who covered a variety of subjects in class, Barnes weaves a lot of her former teaching experience into her recipes. "That is what cooking is for me - you get in the kitchen, and there's math, and there's geography, and there's culture, and history, and nutrition, and how things grow, and agriculture and all these different academic pieces that really get mixed up and come to light together in the kitchen."
Each meal takes no more than twelve steps to prepare and follows particular themes. During the course of a year, there are entrees from four different countries, and recipes tend to follow the seasons, so kids can help with Thanksgiving dinner or deliver a great barbecue dish in the summer. Barnes’ team also tries to offer two recipes that kids are familiar with each month, and another that stretches their palates a bit.
Barnes said that kids can achieve success in the kitchen in a way that’s not always possible in other extracurricular activities. Making a delicious bowl of soup or taking brownies to a neighbor is a simple practice with significant benefits. "Kids feel so much gratification and confidence and joy when they're cooking for others," she said.
For more information about Raddish or sample recipes, visit www.raddishkids.com.