Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

I very often have clients who do not know how to cook. They were never taught. Think about that for a minute: These people were never taught how to provide for themselves in the MOST basic manner. They were not taught how to FEED themselves. To me, that's a pretty basic survival skill and I can't help but wonder how their parents missed teaching it? These are people who were taught to use a toilet rather than a diaper. They were taught to share toys, to tie their shoes, and to tell time. They grew up to succeed in all sorts of professions from doctor to lawyer to salesperson to pilot. But cooking food....I don't know, seems that they skipped that lesson.

My mom taught me how to cook. She's an excellent cook and even ran her own catering business when I was a child. She was also ahead of her time healthy food wise. She cooked a lot of vegetables, not so much meat, very little fat. Then when I got married and moved in with my husband, I learned his entire Israeli repertoire, much learned from his own mom, and some from life in the army, and added it to my own skill set.

I realize that others were not so lucky. In many cases, their parents didn't know how to cook anything decent either. Or their parents liked to eat fried foods, endless steaks, and the only vegetables served were "creamed" and from a can. Maybe it was not considered important enough to teach? Most of us grew up at a time when the tv dinner and the microwave oven were beginning to make the kitchen arts obsolete.

But now as I mother myself, I see a trend that troubles me. I have plenty of friends who DO know how to cook. Yet, it has not occured to them to TEACH this skill to their children. These moms tend to wait on their kids and serve everyone at the table their separately prepared preferred item: plain pasta for child #1, a hot dog for child #2, a bowl or milk and cereal for child #3, insisting that each child only likes this certain thing and being a short-order cook and waitress is better than fighting over food each night. So, here we have kids who don't know how to cook AND they don't know how to eat properly either.

Am I the only one who sees BIG TROUBLE brewing on the horizon for these kids?! As moms, are we thinking ahead here? Our kids will be adults one day, out on their own. What will they prepare for themselves to eat? Hot dogs? Yeah, that's exactly what they will be preparing and when they have kids that's what they will be serving too. And this is precisely the point when they end up in MY office!

I've got a picky eater here in my house too. I KNOW it's a challenge. But since when has "Challenge" equaled "Surrender"? We have GOT to teach these kids how to take care of themselves! I myself am included in this. I quite often have to grit my teeth and bite my tongue in order to let the kids set their creativity loose in my nice clean kitchen. (See above picture to see how bad it can get!) But it's worth it. I want them to grow up loving a large variety of healthy foods - how to prepare them and how to enjoy eating them!

Here's a recipe my 11-year old came up with and prepared almost entirely on his own:

L's Chinese Fried Rice

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 T olive oil
1 T sesame oil
2 cups broccoli flowerets
1 carrot, julienned
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 T soy sauce
2 cups mung bean sprouts

To make the rice. Rinse the dry gains in a colander under cold water. Place in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, turn down heat, cook over very low heat for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked and water is absorbed. Set aside to cool completely.

Warm oil in a pan. Saute broccoli and carrots until tender-crisp. Toss in rice and stir fry until all is coated. Toss in scallions and soy sauce. Serve topped with bean sprouts.

You can also make a 2-egg omelet, slice it into strips and serve on the final product. Or add some peanuts for a crunchy kid-friendly appeal.

L says "It's fun to cook and then I get to eat it!"

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