I want my children to leave knowing how to cook and hopefully to love food for something more than filling their bellies. I have had moderate to zero success teaching them how to cook. On the high end, simple dishes such as taco meat and ramen have gone well. On the low end, they think the kitchen is a place to play in. I have been pretty frustrated trying to impart my love of cooking to them. Then I watched Chef. Simply put, Chef is about dad and his son. In a pivotal scene, he teaches his son about cooking and that got me thinking.
Instead of trying to teach the kids an entire dish, I get them involved with the fun aspects of cooking. Fun things such as watching the cheese melt, bread toasting, and tasting food after they have done something small with the ingredients. I had both of them helping me make soup, one of them would peel a vegetable, another would cut or season, and then both would taste. Smaller steps with the same goal of teaching them about cooking have been a vast improvement.
Last night was smushed sandwiches. We do not have a sandwich press, we have a George Foreman. Which is where the smush came from. We created an assembly line, with the kids working one station; our girl wanted to smush the sandwiches and the boy wanted to make the sandwiches.
In addition to smushing, our girl had to toast the bread. Working with Barb, they buttered the bread and toasted. The toasted bread was passed on to our boy. I showed him how to organize his supplies meats here, cheeses here, and mayo here. He then went his own way, which was fine as he learned a lesson on organization when he kept losing ingredients. Before assembling we talked about how to build a sandwich, he wanted to pile cheese on top of meat.
We built a test sandwich like he wanted and our girl smushed. What do you think happened?
If you said, the cheese closest to the top of the sandwich melted and the meat closest to the bottom of the sandwich warmed, but the rest was cold you would be correct. He was not satisfied with that. He wanted to see melty cheese. So we talked about sandwich construction, cheeses, and properties of heat.
To keep the sandwich together, cheese goes on each half of the bun and in the middle. This also makes a cheesy sandwich. He wanted this a lot. He wanted to know how the cheeses should go on the sandwich. We had Swiss, Sharp Cheddar, and Havarti cheeses. I took a small piece of each, threw them on the George Foreman and we watched cheese melt. The Havarti melted first, the Sharp Cheddar second, followed closely by the Swiss. Then I asked the boy what he thought the order should be and this is what we ended up with:
- Toasted bun
- Havarti and bits of bacon (our girl remembered them)
- Roast Beef
- Squirt of Mayo
- Sharp Cheddar
- Toasted Bun
Our girl learned to watch for the signs of done verse burned to a crisp: melty cheese and golden bun. I think she had the most fun smushing the sandwiches. When all was said and done, both kids ate a sandwich something that had never happened before. 🙂