|Head chef for Blueberry Kuchen|
I'm guessing that a lot of people enter into adulthood and their own home without being taught, not just about how to clean a toilet bowl, but how to manage their finances or cook their meals, how to fix a leaky toilet or grow food. I personally was really good at managing finances because a family friend had spent time teaching me how to make the most of credit cards without debt. I was relatively weak on a lot of other aspects of running a home. When I was in school, it wasn't cool for the academic kids to take courses like home economics or shop - i literally think no one I knew took those courses - and so I took typing. Ironically, here I am in my forties learning to cook and having chronic muscular pain that largely prevents me from typing. Schools do a great job of preparing you to contribute to society and the economy and traditionally the family taught you all the skills needed to fly in adulthood. My husband hadn't been taught to cook, clean, or do finances growing up. That's not a disparaging comment on my in-laws; I think that boys in the 1960s and 1970s simply weren't taught these things that often. But I don't want my son to have to be dependent on someone else, which is quite different than choosing to be interdependent.
Of course, a critical area for me is food. He has been actively cooking, not just putting sprinkles on cupcakes, since he was at least six. We work on reading recipes, assembling ingredients, measurements, principles like cutting, etc. In Italy, we discovered the mezzaluna, a two handled knife shaped a large "U" that allows even the youngest children to safely chop things on the cutting board. This is the perfect way to allow them to really participate in preparing food. After all, what kid doesn't want to use the knife? But knife skills are hard, say I who has routinely stupidly cut herself. With the mezzaluna, their hands are never near the blade and they can be completely responsible, except for an initial coarse cut, for making things like bruschetta. I think the pride of being a specialist at some recipe is huge for young kids, at least, it is for my son. He's big on bruschetta and tiramisu.
|He's proud of his whipping skills|
When we cook together, I try to act as his sous chef, so that he is largely responsible for bringing things together. Yesterday we made a blueberry kuchen, the German word for cake, from the wonderful local cookbook, Dishing Up Maryland. We've never been a big dessert family, but this year with over 100 lbs of fruit stored from the Summer, we are diving in to all things fruit. We've made crisps and cobblers, compote and fruit ice cream. It's a new adventure for both of us. Yesterday was the layered kuchen, with a somewhat thick pastry like bottom, a layer of blueberries, and a crumble topping. Perfect with ice cream.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at Sustainable Eats, a blog from a family attempting a "hard core" approach to local living.