In my 100-year-old house, I have a number of family heirlooms—pieces of furniture, china and silver that have come down to me from several generations. I feel lucky to have them. They provide such a tangible link to my past. But the thing I took, almost as an afterthought, is the one I’ve come to love the most—a sweet, simple, dented, tin measuring cup.
You see, my mom was an excellent baker and candy maker. (She was not so good at vegetables, but that’s another story.) And as a little girl, I was often up on a stool, measuring the floor or sugar in that cup, making cookies, cakes, pies, bread, muffins and her famous hand-dipped chocolates. And now, when I reach for it as I mix up a batch of brownies, or measure the water for my morning oatmeal, it reminds me of all those times I worked beside her.
When you bring your kids into the kitchen and cook together, you’ll build memories that last a lifetime. I know it’s faster to just do it yourself. But when you have time to let your kids help, they’ll discover they can do “real work” and contribute to the life of the family.
Along the way, they’ll also learn important math and literacy concepts. Preschoolers who measure ½ cup of this and ¼ cup of that build up a wealth of experiences that will help them understand fractions when they meet up with them in elementary school. And as you help them decipher the instructions in the recipe, children discover that one of the reasons we read is to learn how to do things.
Finally, there’s the pleasure that comes from eating something you’ve made. Kids have been known to try all kinds of foods when they’ve helped make it. So, each month, we publish a recipe in High Five magazine. We introduce a variety of healthy foods (including all those vegetables I’ve learned to like), with occasional baked treats added to the mix.
I’d love to know what you’re cooking with your kids. What memories are you making in your kitchens?