This post is inspired by the Silicon Valley Moms Blog monthly book club choice for March, Top 100 Finger Foods and Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel. I received a copy of both books as a part of the book club.
I remember when the idea of cooking with Li'l Boo first came to me. I read in several parenting books when he was a baby that kids are more apt to try foods when they help prepare them. I made a mental note for when I deemed him old enough to assist me, and moved on. Then while living in Naperville, I saw a neighboring family of four kids from about ages 2-8 prepare dinner and a lightbulb went off.
There they were, standing around the counter in the kitchen on various step stools and chairs, each working on different stages of dinner prep. The oldest was chopping a carrot, two were ripping lettuce, another stirring something in a bowl near her mom at the sink. Aha! So THAT'S how she does it! That's how she doesn't lose her mind everyday during the late afternoon/early evening witching hour. She's not breaking up wrestling matches and blowing up over crayon drawings on the walls upstairs or ushering wailing children indoors to check out a boo boo. She gives' em jobs and keeps 'em busy. These kids were focused and taking pride in what they're doing. . . and relatively happy and quiet. I vowed to copy her from that day forward.
So I searched online that night for kid-friendly recipes, snacks, anything I could find with terrific photos of the food. (The recipes HAD to come with photos, I had to see just how enticing each kid-friendly meal could look.) That's when I stumbled upon Annabel Karmel, with her book First Meals. I picked it up at the bookstore the very next day. It was chock full of exquisite photos, healthy and innovative dishes, and divided into appropriate age groups from babies to big kids.I don't cook with Li'l Boo everyday - that takes a clean and organized kitchen as well as planning ahead to have supplies on hand, and that's hard to do when you're working nearly everday. Also, you have to want to have a kid with you making dinner, which can be trying when time is of the essence and you know you can do everything faster and neater on your own. I'd say he helps me in the kitchen at least two or three days a week for some meal or other. He likes to put on the chef's hat that came with his play kitchen and grill when he was a toddler, and he slides a chair over to the counter to stand on, calling to me that "Chef Li'l Boo" is on the way. I love it! I told him that he has to learn to cook so he can make meals for the ladies or his kids when he's my age. Ha ha! Perhaps there could be some Michelin stars in his future...
Here's some of the fun we've had cooking together these past two years: