Kids in the Kitchen

Ever since I can remember, I have always been intrigued by what goes on in the kitchen. My mother was a full-blooded Italian who proclaimed she was a lousy Italian because of her dislike of Italian food. She hated garlic and she related it to all Italian foods from how her mother cooked. I often teased her about that and it led to many interesting conversations. My father on the other hand was Russian and Polish, and he expected those kinds of meals on the table at least 2-3 times a week. Not only did my mother hate Italian food, she also hated to cook. She learned fast right after she was married as she took it on as her duty to please my father with good meals.

So there was my mother on Saturdays, cooking away with foods like pierogis, galumpkis (stuffed cabbage) and many steak-type dishes like steak cutlets. I watched her a lot, especially when she made chocolate chip cookies or cakes. Licking the spoons or the beaters was not only delicious but a treat. That’s about the only thing that I did in the kitchen because my mother did everything else. There was no helping her in the kitchen, that was what she did. Making our beds, doing our laundry or cleaning our rooms was also her job. There was no showing us how to do these things in our home; that’s just the way it was back then. It made it tough over the first years of being on my own because I had to learn to do it all quick if I were to eat and not live in a sty.

I vowed that as soon as I had children, I would have them in the kitchen with me learning how to cook and having fun. Gina was 2-3 years old when she started cooking with me. She was making most of the pies, cookies, eggs and many other plates by herself with me looking on by the age of 4. We watched cooking shows weekly together gathering more info to increase our talents and fun in the kitchen. We did many other things together like hiking, kite flying and playing games, but cooking was always that special time together.

Fast-forward 20 years and I have my two grandsons from my step-daughter cooking in the kitchen with me. They are 8 & 9 now, but both have been cooking since two. If they were sleeping over, which they did often, the first thing out of their mouth as they awoke in the morning was, “let’s make the scramble eggs Grampa.” It always amazed and heartened me to see the excitement in their faces as they said that each time. It became a ritual as soon as we did it the first time. It was the same with anything else that we made in the kitchen. I can still remember the first time we went apple picking and made apple pies. To them it was something special to try something different in Grampa’s kitchen. The laughing, crying because one wanted to do it first and the fun that we have is something I can always look back on and smile.

Make it a point to start your kids off early with you in the kitchen, teaching them not only the skill but the fun and pride in making something from scratch. The memories that you will make will not only be fun to look back on but will teach them discipline, math, science and a whole boat load of fun. To me, kids belong in the kitchen, not only to help and take a little load off you but to spend some quality time with the persons that mean the most to them. I wouldn’t trade one time with Gina, Jack or Jay for a million dollars. Kids make us rich and happy enough to fill our homes with much more, family, fun and great memories.

Bon appetit!

Tim Holick

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