Cooking with kids -- who's idea was that? You're just giving the inmates weapons.
I'm trying to take to heart the "cook with your kids" movement. I'd love for the bounty of the farmer's market to inspire my children to be adventurous and healthful eaters. I want to get them invested in the preparation and cooking process. But in reality, having my kids "help" in the kitchen just invests me in a therapist. I used to have delusions about showing the kids how to roll their own gnocchi, as my Nana did with me. Bwahh! First off, there's just not that much time in a day anymore. Second, my patience has been shaved down to a little nub over the years. In my defense, it must be said that cooking with Teen Spirit and La Principessa is like going mano a mano with the Cat in the Hat while playing tennis with an octopus. Or stuffing a cobra into a drawstring bag. Or a fox in a box with very long socks.
Me: "Could you please cut up some lettuce? There's the salad bowl on the counter."
Teen Spirit: "What counter?"
Me: "What do you mean what counter? We only have one counter. Just give the lettuce a quick chop, please."
I meander on over to the fridge but from the corner of my eye, I can see Teen Spirit pummeling his hands against that innocent lettuce head, with increasingly elaborate karate chops. I was about ready to float his goat. In a boat.
Me: "By chop, I mean cut into small slices with a knife."
Teen Spirit tears leaves from the head as I tear hair from my head.
Me: "No, chop it."
TS: "Tearing is better. Plus it's green. And I couldn't even find a knife."
Me: "How long have you lived here? The knives are in the block on top of the fridge."
TS: "No, they're not."
Me: "Fine -- just put the lettuce in a bowl." Said seething, as my teeth I grit and tongue I bit.
TS: "I don't like lettuce -- it's green. I won't be seen eating green."
Me: "just..put..it..in the bowl."
La Principessa hears "bowl" and begins to roll the misshapen lettuce head hard enough to knock down the cans she has carefully stacked into a pyramid. "Score. Two points!", she yells.
The Hep Cat in the Hat aka Dad wanders in and decides to take over. But he'll just wing it – a little of this, little of that. He calls it "cooking" – we call it "concocting." He refuses to consult a recipe – much the same way he won't stop the car on an unfamiliar road to ask for directions. He trips on one of the "bowling cans" and cusses. La Principessa consoles him with a large bouquet of knives cadged from the block. I wondered why she was rapelling down the side of the fridge.
The heck with this – whether or not Teen Spirit likes the color, I'm ordering out -- some green eggs and ham will soon be about.