There are many adventure to be had in the kitchen. I have fond memories of my mom giving me a hunk of pizza dough every time we made pizza. She let me make my hunk of dough into whatever shape I wanted and she let me top it however I liked as well. I remember making a lot of car shaped pizzas that I topped with cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms. I also remember eating lots every time I cooked in the kitchen. If I helped make it, I wanted to eat it. I loved to create tasty treats. I loved following recipes. I loved trying new things. The kitchen is a great place to learn about family, food, how to follow instructions, reading, chemistry, math, love and so much more.
Our kitchen adventures started when Ruby was around 14 months old. That is when we first purchased a learning tower and that changed everything. Ruby was able to work in the kitchen at counter level and she loved it. Almost 3 years later and the tower is still used daily and our collection of kitchen gear has only grown. Here is a link to a Kitchen Helper which is similar to what we own but not the same.
We started with simple things. One of the first was salad prep. Cutting, chopping, shredding and then layering it all in the bowl was a great introduction to lots of kitchen tools.
Shredding cheese is still a favorite activity. I happen to prefer freshly shredded cheese over the pre-shredded stuff you buy at the store. We have a cheese grater with a storage container that fits on the bottom.
Chopping vegetables is also another favorite activity. We have a set of nylon knives that have been much used and are much-loved.
Another fun thing we started with was lunch prep for when we were out and about. I got fun animal cutters and we would cut Ruby’s food into fun shapes and make a bento box style lunch or snack box. I take the leftovers and toss them into my salad. We started with a small stainless steel box which we used a ton. We generally use a larger snack box now because we pack planning to share with friends.
Smoothies were another super easy breakfast or snack to make together. Ruby could very quickly put all of the ingredients together with a little help pouring in the liquid. Making smoothie popsicles is another easy kitchen activity. We have several sets of popsicle molds.
These flat stainless steel molds and these cylindrical stainless steel molds make larger popsicles and have little trays on the bottom to catch some drips.
These silicone molds are of the push up variety, so you have to touch the cold part with your hands. They also work as snack holders for little treats on the go. These smaller molds also have no drip handles.
Mashing was another favorite activity early on in the kitchen. I must admit that Ruby wants to taste everything that she makes in the kitchen and she is much more likely to try things if she helps make them, just like I was.
When we first started, I knew she would be sampling a lot, so we did not make things for other people when she was helping. LOL! After some practice and after the initial excitement of being included in food prep, Ruby learned the rules of the kitchen and will ask before sampling. We started by practicing washing our hands in the beginning and at any point needed during food prep.
Once we had a few kitchen basics under our belts, there was no holding her back. She wanted to help with everything. There are certain things we make on a regular basis so they were mastered quickly. I enjoy scrambled eggs which led to Ruby’s love of cracking eggs and the whisk. We like to bake cookies which led to Ruby’s love of a few chocolate chips and the stand mixer. We also like to make pancakes which you can read all about here.
Homemade noodles are a family tradition and Ruby started helping early with measuring. I tend to give her a hunk of dough and she works with it while I roll out the remainder of the dough. She loves to sprinkle it with flour, roll it out with her rolling pin and mash it with her hands. Her dough usually ends up a tough ball of flour but she has a grand time. She loves helping put the dough through the pasta attachments on the stand mixer. I love that I am handing down a family tradition from a young age. We make a variety of things with noodles but chicken noodle soup is one thing. Ruby and her friends chow down when it is noodle day.
We were out-of-town for two weeks and now that we are back home, I can really see the difference that comes with helping do even simple things like pouring a glass of milk or a a bowl of cereal. Helping in the kitchen is a lifelong skill. Someday I know she will be making things on her own and teaching me a thing or two. That is an adventure I look forward to.
Do you have a favorite kitchen tool? Do you have a favorite recipe that you have shared with your kids?