As someone who loves cooking, I always had this vision of imparting my passion onto my own children. Just as I stood firmly beside my parents and particularly my grandmother, watching her peel, slice, dice, whisk and stir, I imagined my children would do the same with me, keenly watching and absorbing as I whipped up fabulous family meals.
Sadly, this hasn't quite materialised. Through my efforts, they're quite clued up on ingredients and have a sound knowledge of nutrition, but getting them to expand their culinary skills by being involved in the kitchen remains a challenge.
Although they both love food, my kids would much prefer to have their favourite dishes set down before them, all ready to eat, than get involved in the actual process of cooking.
I wonder if there is something I have done wrong? I can be a bit of a 'kitchen-zilla' where my husband is concerned, but this is because he views the kitchen as a place to express his artistic temperament, not by creating exquisite, beautifully crafted edible works of art, but by splattering the walls with a colourful spectrum of foodstuffs.
He will 'tidy up' afterwards, a process which takes the best part of an hour, but despite this, I still find myself a week later scraping old gravy off the side of the fridge or rescuing a bag of upturned sesame seeds from the cupboard.
So perhaps my kids have subliminally picked up negative associations with the kitchen, based upon my sighing and tutting whenever their dad goes anywhere near, or banning him completely where possible from even entering the domain? Maybe they view it as too sterile a place to express their artistic flair.
Other things to do
It could be that, it could also be that other bugbear of course - screens. Now that they're older, the phrases uttered most in our house seem to be "turn that down," "put that down" or "no, I don't want to watch another try not to laugh compilation".
Screens appear to have replaced almost every need one can think of to actually physically do something, so cooking would be no different. Take cooking apps - both my kids love those pretend kitchen games where they cook and flip burgers, create pizza's or make ice cream sundaes. It's a bit like cookery programmes, and the reason they're so popular.
You start watching with good intentions of trying the recipes for yourself but really, you just end up enjoying watching someone else do all the hard work, even the eating part! Cooking apps are very satisfying because you get to be a little bit creative, get rewarded if the customer likes the food, plus no one nags you to clean up afterwards.
So, in summary, this is what I need to do:
- Try to relax about husband cooking, and re-educate in the art of 'clean-as-you-go'. (Tried this many times, doesn't work).
- Ban screens one hour before cooking begins, in an attempt to lure kids into the kitchen to help and learn. (Tried this too, resulting in half baked efforts - pardon the pun - due to eagerness to return to screens).
I shall do my best, but it's a good job I don't have dreams of nurturing the next Jamie or Nigella!
Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor