Although my culinary skills don't always receive high praise, it occurred to me that perhaps it would be nice for my wife to have a night off cooking, and for my eight-year-old son to have a night on, with my assistance. We chose Saturday night. But the highlight wasn't the main meal. It was the dessert. More on that in a moment.
A hand in the cooking
One of the many benefits of cooking with your children is that you can look like an expert. It is time together, a lot of fun, and a chance for the usual cook to have time out of the kitchen (provided you set up barriers and sentries at the kitchen door). Another advantage is that the children are more likely to eat some food they've had a hand in (so to speak). And of course it's not doing the children any harm if they come into adulthood equipped with at least some rudimentary survival skills.
I recall that my own dad occasionally used to cook a two-ingredient rice dish for "sweets". It was a great novelty for us children when we heard we were having rice and currants. There were no recipes passed down from generation to generation, so when it came to explaining to my own son how to cook this exquisite delicacy, I had to wing it a little. As my son is an apprentice cook, with an apprentice chef to guide him, I had to make it simple. So here it is:
- Boil rice.
- Add currants.
Now I have to admit that that first instruction requires some skill to carry out, but it's not all that hard. And once the rice is boiled, even the most culinarily challenged should be able to cope with instruction number two. If you're scandalised at the simplicity of such a recipe, you can add another step, to make it look more professional:
So my son and I made Dad's rice and currants dessert and served it hot. It was a real hit, probably as much for the novelty as anything. There are all sorts of variations you could add, but we started just with these two ingredients. It's a simple introduction to cooking for someone starting out.
At the end of a successful and simple dessert, everyone generally agreed that importing my son and me as guest chefs was a good idea. The children loved the rice and currants, and speculated on the difference between currants, sultanas and raisins without the help of Professor Google. The kitchen eventually got cleaned up [wise use of the passive voice here - Ed.] and best of all, my son asked me "what are we going to cook next Saturday?"