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Letting the Kids Help with Dinner

As soon as our daughter could stand solidly on her feet, we had her standing on a chair at the kitchen counter. The kitchen is a great place to be together.

When she was very little, there wasn’t much she could do to help with dinner. I just wanted her to experience the sounds and smells of the kitchen. Whenever I baked, I’d hold her hand to help me scoop flour into the bowl. When I opened cinnamon or cumin, I moved the bottle back and forth under her nose. The look of joy on her face when she first smelled fresh ginger will always be with me.

As she grew older, and more nimble on her feet, we bought her some nylon knives intended for kids. Sharp enough to chop carrots and apples, but blunt enough to never cut her, these knives have been in her hands every time she is in the kitchen with us. My husband taught her some knife skills: how to curl the fingers of her left hand under to protect them, how to put the tip of the knife on the cutting board and chop down. She’s very serious about her chopping now.

She’s not always interested in cooking. There are many times she’d rather sit on the counter and paint as we cook. Sometimes she’s annoyed that we’re standing at the stove again, especially when she’d rather have a pink manicure. But she knows that the kitchen is an important place for our family.

We know we’re not alone in involving our kid in the kitchen. So many of you reading love to teach your sons and daughters how to cook. We’re going to be writing recipes here with ideas for what the kids can do beside you. (Sometimes I’d love to write a recipe with different ingredients lists: what the kid can do, what the first cook does, what the second cook does.) We’d love to hear how you involve your kids in the work of the kitchen, both on this post and in all the pieces we do here.

One great benefit of having a kid who is in the kitchen often is that she starts to make her own suggestions for dinner. This twice-baked potato pie is one of the most comforting, delicious dishes we’ve ever made. Lucy sure loved it. We think your kids might like it too.


You can find more of Shauna and Danny’s recipes, essays, photographs and words of comfort about living gluten-free at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Shauna shares food ideas and answers questions on Twitter. She also pins photographs and recipes on Pinterest and Foodily. There’s a great community at the Facebook fan page for Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
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