We owe our mothers so much. They give us life, they nurture us, feed us and teach us.
Our mothers are also often our first teachers in the kitchen. From them we learn table manners, what a family meal is and how it brings us all together. Our lessons start when we watch and mimic what we see in the kitchen and at the dinner table. As we grow and understand, we are taught by being allowed to become a “mother’s helper” and do some of the simpler tasks of getting the family meal prepared. Later in life, we use all of the years of learning by contributing our favorite family dishes when the family gathers at holidays, taking some of the pressure off of our mothers.
As a mom, it is important to pass those life skills on to our children so they have the same foundation in the kitchen that we learned from our parents.
Here are some simple ideas to consider when teaching the next generation how to prepare the family meal:
Teach measurements– Find tasks for young ones that allow them to stay in one location, but keep them busy. Give them a measuring spoon and ask them to count how many teaspoons are in a cup of flour or water. Once they fill the cup, use it in your recipe.
Name the tools – Many of the tools of the trade in the kitchen have specific names and specific uses. Teach the names of the tool as well as their purpose in preparing the meal. That way when you ask for a wisk you don’t get a potato masher!
Plan meals together– For most families, dinner usually includes a main dish or entre, a side dish or two providing a starch and vegetable, and if we are lucky a dessert. Discuss why certain side dishes go together and how to plan a well-balanced meal.
Use recipes – Many mothers have made their favorite family recipes so many times, that they don’t even use a recipe any more or they never had one from their mother. Trial and error can come later, to start have a set of family recipes that can be used to provide step by step instructions to a young chef. If you don’t have them, write them down as you make a dish and start collecting them.
A great way to help mom collect and share her family recipes is to help her create a family cookbook. The Family Cookbook Project (www.FamilyCookbookProject.com) offers a gift certificate that can printed out and included in a Mother’s Day card. This gift will help any mom create an easy online family cookbook that can then be printed and shared for generations to come.
Mom’s can also give themselves a gift to help preserve their family food traditions. By creating a family cookbook and collecting your family recipes, you will be creating a helpful guide for future generations.