Part of what I do in my business is to encourage children to get involved in cooking. This has benefits for many reasons; not only do the children learn to cook - a vital life skill - but it also helps them develop confidence, organisational skills and most importantly, they are more likely to eat what they have made themselves (as opposed to what Mammy has made).
So in an effort to practice what I preach, I set the bored 11-year-old (summer holidays, eh?) the task of making dinner. But not any old dinner - oh no! It had to be something he’d never made before as he’s inclined to take the easy way out and cook the same dish all the time (eye roll)!
He decided to cook duck with pancakes and plum sauce - without the plum sauce which he deemed unnecessary. Now get your eye rolls ready - I’d just said adieu to the cleaner who’d left the kitchen sparkling. I have a cleaner once a week as I was simply not able to keep on top of the housework with the three kids, the husband, the dog, the new all-consuming business, the amazing blogs …….! The cleaner comes in at least once a week, so I can remember the colour of the floor tiles and the kids can have matching socks. Anyway, I digress.
Back to the 11-year-old and the sparkling kitchen and the flour he’d gone to the shop to buy to make the pancakes. Do you see where I’m going with this? It gets worse! He used about 2 bags of flour to make the pancakes and at least a quarter of that ended up on the floor, on the counter top, going up the stairs, clogging up the sink etc. etc.
And then, in a bid to hurry things along a little bit (it had been two hours after all), I volunteered to help him with the duck. As I went to open the oven door, I knocked against the glass dish containing said duck so now the floor is not only white as snow but also deadly dangerous as it’s covered in shattered glass. And we can’t use the duck in case there’s glass inside it.
Cue lots of crying - on the inside at least. The 11-year-old ran over to the shop for more duck, he cooked the 18 pancakes he’d made and dinner was served exactly three hours after he’d started. And we’re on to the happy ending (I’m going to leave out the bit about cleaning up which took another three hours for yours truly who doesn’t even like duck).
Happy ending alert! He declared the pancakes delicious as did his sister - “they’re as good as in a restaurant” was her critique. They devoured about 4 pancakes each and ran off into the night, leaving only flour footprints (and dirty dishes) behind.
So the moral of the story is - kids make a mess in the kitchen. If you want them to be involved in cooking, you have to let them at it and close your eyes to the mess. I suggest lying down with a blindfold on and soothing music in your ears to block out the actual act of mess creation. Or sit in your car (obviously not when they’re using knives and heat but you get the point!).