Many of my fondest memories are rooted in food. The taste, texture, and smell of food can bring the biggest smile to this old fairy’s face. The sharing of food at daily meals or special occasions unleashes those deep emotions of bonding and love with family and friends. Memories of preparing food elicit profound shared experiences and the carrying of ethnic food rituals with the elders in our family. As my friend Kelly says, “Food is love!”
Holidays are a perfect time to dig up those family recipes, read through them with your children and bake/cook up some love. Recipes are food stories. They are the detailed procedures that we are to follow if we want to honour the food preparation rituals that have been passed down from one generation to another.
Often there are stories attached to these recipes that are passed down from one generation to another. In our family, my father’s father was a pastry chef while his mom was a salad chef. They were both exceptionally confident and opinionated in the kitchen. At holiday time, I remember them sharing the babka recipe with me while listening to them dispute how something was to be done. That recipe card had the ingredients, procedural steps, stains from sitting on the counter during the baking process and the endearing memories of my grandparents posturing for kitchen control. I also remember my maternal grandmother teaching me how to make pierogies. We didn’t follow a recipe card but through oral instruction, I was taught the steps in making her delicious soft potato dumplings.
If you don’t have family recipes to resurrect, then look for new ones to use with your children. I’ve added a number of holiday baking links below. You can start your own baking traditions.
Depending on the age of your child, following a recipe might require a touch more patience, but it is worth it! Your child will appreciate you allowing them into your ‘adult space’ that is filled with interesting and challenging tools. In addition, they will develop the following:
- Reading for Purpose – Reading doesn’t always involve fictional stories.
- Sequencing – Recipes and directions follow steps that are to be followed in order. This is an important skill for younger children to comprehend.
- Measurement – Recipes require us to make sure that amounts are correct or the end product will not turn out as hoped.
- Oral Language, Listening, and Comprehension – Health and safety are huge elements of baking and cooking. They are usually conveyed orally with demonstrations from the adult.
- Creativity – Decorating and making the food item look interesting and presentable.
- Connection to Family Heritage and Tradition – Often a family’s legacy of special foods is celebratory and intended to be passed on from one generation to another.
- Playfully Develop Independence – By working with an adult, children get to practice some basic kitchen skills and as a result develop increased confidence in food preparation.
Why not lure your children away from passive watching screen time to researching, reading and preparing recipes. The path to holiday preparation will build kitchen confidence, fond memories and enhance their reading for purpose skills. Remember what Kelly says, “Food is love!” and aren’t the holidays about love and sharing!
Quick Take Away Links
Benefits of cooking with children:
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