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THE HOLIDAYS – cooking with children

November 14, 2014

A few years back, a dear friend asked for help in preparing a turkey for family members who would visit her at Thanksgiving. She explained that she had never prepared “the big bird” at holiday time or on any other occasion. To further define her cooking acumen, she confided to me that during her first year of marriage she cried when her newly-wed husband requested a grilled cheese sandwich, and she did not know the first step to take. I shared my favorite, fail-proof turkey-roasting method with her and her Thanksgiving dinner was an enjoyable success.

I may not be able to do pie crust yet, but I sure can roll out this flour!

I may not be able to do pie crust yet, but I sure can roll out this flour!

Being able to produce something tasty is an act of service that stands unique and basic in the same breath. Just how does a parent (or grandparent) foster the ability and confidence to create in the kitchen, or other settings conducive to the cooking effort? May I first say: if the adult lacks cooking skills her or himself, let them go along on the journey! Here’s a seasonal start.


Holiday cooking: this  is where tradition invites participation. Family recipes, favorite menus, all can be set up with child/youth inclusion and involvement in mind.

Game plan: present a list of menu items such as the dessert, the specialty salad, the meat, even a condiment plate or veggie platter.

Options: Assign the menu item to the child according to interest and ability.

Tips:start beginners with a simple version; don’t stress – messes will be made and the imperfect will be as glorious as the near-perfect!

Example: Buy the ready-made pie crust and stir up the filling from scratch OR create the pie crust from scratch and pour in a ready-made filling. What is your fancy? Apple? Pumpkin? Chocolate Cream? What is your kid-lett’s preference? Maybe they would like to add a menu item to the traditional fare!


At Thanksgiving, dinner items all seem to appear suddenly together on one day. Countdown could go something like this. Day three: Take out the table decorations; make the grocery list and go shopping for specialty items; start the small turkey thawing, etc.(earlier for larger turkey). Day two: bake the pies, make the rolls, put together any Jello-type salad. Day one: Put in the turkey; set the table; set up condiment plates; as meal-time draws near, cook/warm the veggies; prepare any fresh salad materials. ZERO HOUR: gather around for a Thanksgiving prayer and, with grateful hearts, feast away.



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