In the Kitchen with Children

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With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many of us will be spending more time in the kitchen than usual. And what better excuse than that to include our children alongside us while we prepare the delicious food we will serve to our family and guests!

Today, Sophie Andre, a wonderful Lower Elementary Aide (who also teaches French to the Lower Elementary students here at Villa di Maria) who hails from one of the culinary epicenters of the world, France, has offered her tips and tricks (and even a simple recipe) for working in the kitchen with children. Sophie is full of ideas for little hands eager to help in the kitchen, especially because she has been including her young daughter Lynne, in all of the fun. 

First, some tips:

Do not expect your child to finish every step. Most of the time, Lynne starts the task, and I finish it (with her or by myself). I try to set up the environment as logically as possible: moving from left to right, providing different containers for prepped ingredients versus trash.

When working with garlic, cut one end off the clove so that little fingers can more easily peel the skin.

My daughter loves to use the Hachoir, the curved blade with handles on top shown in the top photo (also called a Mezzaluna). She feels so proud, and there’s no stress on the parenting side, as the child needs to keep both hands on the handle in order to use it. That way, no fingers should be on the cutting board while the tool is in use (of course, keep an eye on him or her anyway).

To mix ingredients, I put the pan on the table and my daughter pours everything into it. I pour olive oil into a small pitcher so she can pour it more easily and to avoid accidents. Usually, I cook the dish, but sometimes, Lynne helps stir while on her stool.

Below, Sophie’s beautiful pictures of Lynne in the kitchen (and a recipe!):

Pouring, mixing (with her hands, with a whisk, and with a spoon or rubber scraper) Pouring, mixing (with her hands, with a whisk, and with a spoon or rubber scraper) Peeling using fingers (egg, garlic, mandarin orange) or using a peeler Peeling using fingers (egg, garlic, mandarin orange) or using a peeler Cutting and chopping (*make sure your child is using knives and other sharp tools properly, putting her hand in the right place. Remind her again and again that no fingers should be on the cutting board) Cutting and chopping (*make sure your child is using knives and other sharp tools properly, putting her hand in the right place. Remind her again and again that no fingers should be on the cutting board) Grating, kneeding, scooping, egg cracking (be sure to have a full carton of eggs to sacrifice the first day your child tries this… and plan to have a crunchy omelet to eat that day!), spreading, and shelling peas Grating, kneeding, scooping, egg cracking (be sure to have a full carton of eggs to sacrifice the first day your child tries this… and plan to have a crunchy omelet to eat that day!), spreading, and shelling peas Washing vegetables, washing dishes, washing table Washing vegetables, washing dishes, washing table And, the best part: using the senses in the kitchen: tasting, touching, and smelling! And, the best part: using the senses in the kitchen: tasting, touching, and smelling!

Now for the recipe! Sophie has shared a typical easy French recipe: Carottes Vichy (Vichy Carrots). This recipe uses many skills: peeling with fingers and with a peeler, washing, cutting leaves, chopping, cutting, pouring, and mixing.

Vichy Carrots

No specific proportions here, just prepare according to your own taste: parsley, garlic, carrots, salt, ground pepper, and olive oil.

First, make a “persillade,” (chop together parsley and garlic). Next, cut carrots into rounds. Mix everything, then sauté in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Et voila! Bon appetit!

Thank you, Sophie, for inspiring us all to include our children in the kitchen — such a wonderful thing to do together as a family!