Petite Chef

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It has been spring break here for the last week and a half. We still have almost another whole week to go! I wish we could have taken a trip while Amelia was out of school, but instead we have mostly been hanging around at home. I like taking her with me on errands, and letting her participate– whether buying her own flowers and fruit at the market, or ordering from our butcher. Something I always try to do with her when she has a break is “Cooking Camp.”  She now knows how to independently cook scrambled eggs, burgers, mashed potatoes, and a few other little things, and we have covered some basic knife skills. Yesterday, we went to the butcher, and she decided she wanted to try cooking a gammon steak– it’s like ham, but raw.

 She went behind the counter and watched him cut her piece off, indicated how big she wanted her steak, and then asked for cooking instructions.

Ever since she could talk, people have been inviting her behind the counter to get a closer look at everything. I love it! Here she is, describing what she is up to.

She prepared a few other tidbits to go with her steak, then she ate the whole thing and pronounced it, “Hammy, meaty, greasy, and delicious!”

(This post was shared at Mothering Monday.)

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13 Responses to Petite Chef

  1. Great Scott April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Oh, this kid. She is the best!! And I love the idea of a cooking camp. I’ve had Miss Maren in the kitchen with me – sitting on the counters as I cook dinner – since she was about a year old. As she’s gotten older, she’s moved from playing to helping and I think she’d LOVE a camp like that. I love that you give her some independence in the kitchen – an appreciation for food and cooking skills are gifts that will last a lifetime! Way to go mama!

    • Ariana April 12, 2012 at 9:56 am #

      I’m sure Maren will feel natural and confident in the kitchen, just from being in there from such a young age. Have you seen (or read) Like Water for Chocolate? I love that story, how the little girl was raised in the kitchen, and becomes almost a magician in there, since it is her element.
      I feel a strong need to teach her how to feed herself. What could be more important? We do do some fun cooking like pancakes and cookies, but I really want her to know how to cook meals. And I’m SO glad she is game!

  2. Marisa April 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Oh my gosh – your daughter is so SMART!! Just hearing her go over the instructions – most kids her age would never remember all of that or even be interested in doing it at all. What a wonderful skill you are giving her with your cooking camps. Going to pass this along to some mom friends of mine 🙂

    I also just read the French parenting book “Bringing Up Bebe” (bought it for a friend and was flipping through then couldn’t put it down – and no I have no kids) and the author was talking about visiting a French friend’s home and being amazed that her very little girl was working on something in the kitchen – the point being that French parents recognize their children as rational beings capable of much more than we often give them credit for. And from her perspective as an American parent she couldn’t have imagined letting her own little girl do a similar task.

    • Ariana April 12, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      Yes, I have heard a lot about that book! It sounds like we would get along in France pretty well. I do get nervous about letting her do things her peers may not be doing (using a sharp knife!!) but I have to think back to what I did as a kid, and give her the opportunity to try it. My mom gave me a lot of freedom in the kitchen, especially once I was old enough to read recipes. It did take a while for her to get over turning the gas on the stove on, but I was kind of tough and made her do it each time, and now she is over the initial anxiety of having fire puffing out in front of her. It is really cool to see how great she feels about doing it herself, though!

    • Marisa April 17, 2012 at 1:24 am #

      I think it is fabulous what you are doing. Don’t let yourself get nervous by comparing with other children – remember – “comparison is the thief of joy!” It sounds like you are letting your own instincts guide you. And I really do think you are giving Amelia a real gift (and giving her some credit)by letting her try these things.

      Maybe you should move to France next! Sounds like you’d fit right in. Although some of the stuff they do gives me pause – such as sending their preschool aged children on week long field trips to foreign countries. Not sure about that one!

  3. Marisa April 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Oh and that gammon steak sounds really yummy by the way! Never had that before but I am in love with ham!

  4. Kristin April 12, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    How cool is she! What a fun little girl, and so independent!

    • Ariana April 12, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      I think she’s cool! I love her passion and enthusiasm!

  5. Kristen April 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I love that Amelia is already such an accomplished chef. Seriously – I am impressed! Way to go on the culinry front 🙂

  6. Ariana April 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    She is promising us to cook dinner for the family when she turns 10. I’ll take it! It’s all been a very self-serving plan this whole time. 🙂

  7. monika April 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Colour me impressed too! I can’t believe that Amelia is only 4!!

    Ironically, we just finished Sunday dinner, which my 8 year old made (well, mostly). She picked the menu, made mashed potatoes (I drained them), and then made fish bites (I fried though). On Friday, I realized that when I was her age, I was already doing quite a bit of cooking, and so I vowed to make sure she did too. So it is lovely coming across your blog post, voicing many of my thoughts.

    I am very jealous that you can find gammon so easily; here in Canada, it is hard to come by, and when we lived in Switzerland, the year I wanted to make it for Easter, I had to buy a whole leg! It was gigantic!! But so worth it — one of my favourite recipes is Nigella’s Ham in Coke — try it, it is delicious, and the leftover cooking liquid makes a brilliant black bean soup.

  8. Ariana April 16, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Hi Monika, it’s always nice to “meet” other moms who are like-minded. I do think it’s important to remember what we were doing at various ages, since these days people don’t seem to give kids much credit at all for what they can handle! Also, looking at what children in other cultures are doing can be very sobering!

    You know, I had never even heard of gammon until we got here! I had to have our butcher explain it to me. But it’s really good! I love Nigella Lawson– that sounds like a great recipe. Thanks for stopping by and “chatting” a bit!


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