Kids in the Kitchen

By treatyrockbeef - Last updated: Monday, July 19, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Howdy Farmers Market Friends:
Each of us are entrusted with important gifts to pass along to our children and other kids too.  Among these – a foundation of good manners, a healthy revulsion for the New York Yankees and a love of food and cooking.  The kid who doesn’t learn family foodways soon finds him/herself  on an island – “the little prince/ess” who assumes that food is prepared for him/her.  To steal a punchline from my suburban NY youth: “The only thing a Jewish-American princess knows how to make for dinner is reservations”.  
Now hold on a minute and put your pitchforks down – this kitchen-challenged condition cuts across all ethnic and socioeconomic lines.  I can name an Italian-American princess with hairspray and jewelled cell phone and her brother the “Mameluke” in grad school who still has Mama ironing his undershirts and can’t read a bus schedule. 
For you etymological enthusiasts, this interesting term (originally ma’amluq) derives from a medieval slave military force in the Muslim world comprised of South Indian captives taken as plunder and eventually rising in rank among their captors.  The parallel is undeniable and troubling – spoiled kids remain captive to Mama’s cooking and her overarching influence in their lives, creating unhealthy conflict later in life.  Build their skill set and set them free !!  If the kid don’t help, the kid don’t eat. 
Make a conscious effort to spend time together in the market, in the garden and in the kitchen building familiarity with food and cooking skills.  You are empowering your kids with health, creativity and economic independence.  Good food does not come in a box and costs less than the crap that does if you know what you’re doing – important for recent grads on a budget.
Start small with low expectations and modest time commitment.  You will do most or all of the work, getting help with chopping, measuring, stirring, assembling.  Your time spent together sharing stories and chores will yield an incredible return on investment as you develop favorite routines together.  The experiments, successes and spectacular failures are all building blocks in a skill set that you will cherish together for years to come.
My friend Paul Z is a BarBQ pitmaster who takes his daughter along on the weekend competition circuit.  She recently showed the boys a thing or two, running the table in the youth division at Lake Placid, NY Barbeque Championship.  That’s an empowered young woman.  Woo-hoo !! 
In our house we are about a year into this learning curve and Colin (12) has begun to prepare dinner for the family once a week.  We got him a great 3-ring binder book called “Anyone Can Cook” and it’s excellent.  It stays open to the page you want, has good ingredient lists for shopping and sequential instructions and short cuts for dishes that are not difficult and are very rewarding for a young chef.  This week he made the Easy Shepherd’s Pie and wanted me to share the recipe with y’alls.
Non-stick cooking spray
1 pound Treaty Rock Farm 100% grass-fed dry aged sirloin tips cut into 3/4 inch cubes
Olive oil to brown meat
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can beef broth
Flour to thicken gravy
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t thyme, dried and crushed or fresh chopped
1/8 t fresh cracked black pepper (5-10 grinds)
1 box instant mashed potato flakes (just add water, milk, butter and salt)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese for topping
Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 2-qt. square baking dish with cooking spray.  Brown sirloin tips on hot olive oil, turning to brown all sides.  Add onion & Worcestershire sauce and saute till onions are clear.  Add vegetables, tomato soup, beef broth, thyme and pepper.  Bring to boil.  Add flour a tablespoon at  a time, whisking vigorously to thicken up pan gravy.  Transfer to baking dish.  Prepare mashed potato according to directions.  Whisk till smooth then spoon in mounds on top of beef / vegetable mixture getting even coverage.  Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until bubbling around edges.  Sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese and return to oven for a couple minutes more.  Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a tall glass of milk.
Respecting the Protein, PMB

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