Cook with a kid

 

 
Ashley and parents make meat lovers', veggie lovers' and cheese pizzas for lunch.

This is the oldest of our three daughters and the youngest of our three granddaughters working on Saturday’s pizza lunch in Baltimore (Ashley’s dad is behind them, draining sausage). Eight-year-old Ashley cooks so much that she has a choice of aprons — this one is a  “Madmen”-era full apron with ruffles. Sweet.

She is pressing pizza dough into shape. She is good at flattening things.

She is also good at sticking with things (like a bulldog). Before the pizzas, she and I made chocolate chip-pretzel-peanut-potato chip cookies. They were OK, but what was wonderful was that she didn’t wander off as soon as I was knee-deep in cookie dough.

Ashley, her older brother and sister have always cooked with their parents, just as their parents always fix supper. B.C. (before children) their mother used to post one month’s menus at a time. This annoyed the rest of us so much that one of her friends used to erase random suppers on the Q.T. and substitute entrees like whale brains, calf eardrums.

When each of our girls was little, I frequently found the only times I had with them was when we cooked or drove somewhere. My wise friend Dannye R.P. said once that if the only way you could relate to a surly teenager was to feed her, then do it, they’ll remember someday. And so it seems.

Some folks are calling for the return of home ec and shop classes  for boys and girls. I think that’s a great idea, especially if their parents don’t cook for whatever reason. Kids who learn the joy of cooking are, in my opinion, less likely to be fat and unhealthy. Just make the food something more useful than cinnamon toast which I remember from my first of Thelma Royer’s cooking classes at Watsontown High School. For goodness sake, I was baking at 6!

Teach today’s kids, if they don’t know,  to bake no-knead whole-grain bread or to throw together a good and healthy salad for supper when they’re the only ones at home (or even if they’re fixing supper for the whole family — Ashley’s already done that a couple of times).

Anyone can fix this yummy low-fat chicken salad from my newest cookbook: Fix-It and Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites (comfort-food slow-cooker recipes from Rodale Press, 2011, Phyllis Pellman Good, editor). Who knew you didn’t even need reduced-fat mayonnaise to make good chicken salad? I don’t like mooshy meat salads, however, and next time will add some finely minced celery after cooking and assembling.

Greek Chicken Pita Filling from contributors Judi Manos and Jeanette Oberholtzer

1 onion, chopped

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Combine onion, chicken and lemon pepper in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until chicken is done (ours was finished in 5). Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks. Combine chicken with oregano and yogurt (celery if using). Serve as filling in whole-wheat pitas. Serves 4.

Making cookies
 

 

 
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