Cooking with Q

“Things taste better with teamwork!”

In May of 2009, I decided that I wanted to spend some more quality time with my six-year-old son, but in a way that also accomplished a couple of other things, such as getting a meal on the table and teaching some valuable life skills.

My son is exceptionally active, and I’ve gotten a bit out of shape, so it’s not always easy to keep up with his physical energy; cooking a meal together seems just my speed. Plus, he’s at a great age for this: creative, getting more adventurous with food (though he’s always been pretty good about tasting things), and still wanting to just spend time with me, whatever we do. I’m not kidding myself: the days of wanting to hang out with Mom are numbered. For now, though, it’s still good.

So, the mission’s in place. Every so often my son will be allowed to choose our menu. We’ll roll up our sleeves, wash our hands, and get busy with peelers, paring knives, and primary-color measuring spoons. There is only one basic rule, designed as calorie damage control and to save extra trips to the dentist: the healthy-meal-to-dessert ratio is set at 3:1. That is, for every three healthy things we make, we earn the right to a dessert. I want my son to learn to choose healthy foods, to know how to prepare them. His choosing is key: if he’s empowered to make choices, he’ll be more motivated to do the kitchen work.

On May 16, 2009, we launched our culinary partnership with a fabulous bolognese sauce, my son’s first choice. The next week was a creamy mac and cheese, based on a staff-meal recipe from Chanterelle. Both dishes were successful, and my son has been a great junior chef. He’s pretty willing to help, if I don’t give him tasks that involve touching raw meat, and the life lessons are already coming. Within the first month he announced: “Things taste better with teamwork.” I couldn’t agree more.

If you want to link to a list of all the “Cooking with Q” projects, here’s the link:

I hope these inspire you to get into the kitchen with a child or two. It might get messy, but what in life isn’t, if it’s worth having?

Also, I am open to questions, comments, suggestions for recipes. Please use the comment feature below, or skip over to the “Contact” page.

Happy cooking, happy eating!

A. C. Parker & Son

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