Sharing More than Meals in the Kitchen
Archived Articles by Shaina Olmanson
When I was younger I used to spend the night at my grandmother's house. I would beg her to wake me up when she was up, knowing full well that 5 a.m. was much earlier than my 6-year-old head was used to, but still, I begged. She usually roused me just before 7 a.m., right as she was preparing breakfast.
I'd hop into the kitchen in my nightgown, pull my knees up under me on the chair at the breakfast bar and watch as my grandma cooked eggs and toast, poured juice and lovingly prepared breakfast for my grandpa and me.
It was the years I spent growing up in her kitchen, observing and learning how to prepare not just breakfast, but elaborate family dinners and desserts that would mold my attitude towards family dinners once I had my own family. It's those moments that are recalled instantly when I hear mention of my grandmother's name. I am instantly a child, with my knobby knees tucked under me, smelling as eggs cook and toast turns from light to a golden brown.
To create a connection with my own children in the kitchen, I know that they must be a part of it and feel as though they are interacting with it. We do this in three ways:
- Shopping and Gardening. My kids are involved in the food process from the beginning. Whether we're picking berries at an area farm, hitting up the farmer's market or just running to the store for weekly essentials, they are along for the ride. I'm teaching them how to make choices between different brands, what to look for when choosing a squash or a head of broccoli, and in general, how to choose their food.
- Options. Kids don't like everything, and even the most well-rounded eaters in my family have gone through phases where they protest different meals and foods they may have previously eaten happily. To make sure they don't feel as though they're always just being told what to do and what to eat, we try to give them choices, whether it's over steamed vegetables or salad or if it's helping to plan a meal for a night of the week.
- Cooking. At all different ages, I've involved my kids in the kitchen, letting them help add pasta to boiling water, chop vegetables, pour liquids into batters and more. This constant interaction creates memories, teaches them valuable life skills, and helps to prepare them for a life well lived.
These are merely glimpses at how I get my kids involved and connect with them in the kitchen and through the dinner table. The process is never ending and ongoing, which isn't a bad thing since we all need to eat anyway.
See what else Shaina is bringing to the table at www.foodformyfamily.com/.