Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just Cook: Knife Skills for Parent and Child

This week I came across a couple of videos about basic knife skills that I hope will offer inspiration: one for parent, one for child.

Having family dinner can be sabotaged by many things, but two persistent threats are cooking skills of the parent and attention spans of the kids. Many parents feel unable to cook and then feel overwhelmed by the daily process of making a home meal. But like any skill, cooking skills can be developed slowly and surely over time with great reward. Jamie Oliver has a great series of videos related to his new book 30 minute meals that can help round out your basic cooking skills. This one's on knife use.

Getting kids involved in the kitchen at the end of a long day can be a harder trick, but a useful one becuase they are engaged, learning and helping out. Kids do want to help out in the kitchen, but it often just adds to a parent's sense of stress. To relax and get them involved, it helps to have a few tricks to engage your child safely in the kitchen. I sometimes have my youngest put already-chopped vegetables into little bowls for a simplified mise en place or have her measure out the ingredients for simple sauces and stir. As she gets older, I may be inspired by J.M. Hirsch's book and video High Flavor, Low Labor to move her up to knife skills!

Thanks for the video tips from The Lunch Tray and from my tweep @FoodiePatootie.


  1. Hey Grace,

    Catching up on your blog--wow, so informative!

    The 2nd video encapsulates S's philosophy--and that of his parents. I think much of our anxiety about children and knives (and other perceived kitchen dangers) is culturally based. (I include myself in that "our.")

    S's immigrant mother (Chinese) never hid scissors or showed much concern about, say, fish bones when our kids were toddlers. She rightly assumed that they would avoid the scissors if told or after experiencing a poke and that they could eat around the bones.

    Each girl has her own Japanes veggie knife and they LOVE to make cucumber & tomato salads. 8 y.o. A.'s knife skilz even totally saved me once when my book group was coming over and I ended up having an allergic reaction to raw butternut squash I was preparing for that night's meal. (Who knew? I've eaten it cooked a million times...)

  2. This is the perfect opportunity to pass on cooking techniques from parent to child. A sharp knife is the safest one to use and navigate.


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