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Adventures in Cooking

Baking with Your Kids

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Anyone can cut biscuit dough.

Baking with Children

Photo © 2006 Carroll Pellegrinelli, licensed to About.com, Inc.
It's never too early to introduce your child to the wonders of the kitchen. Even if it’s little things like setting the table, it's a beginning. Start your adventure small and add more difficult tasks, as they get older*. Trying new recipes and baking techniques can be fun for the whole family once everyone is inducted into the adventures found in the kitchen.

Start Simple

Although, these little people have been around your kitchen for years, they might not know where everything is located. A good start would be to give them a tour of the kitchen. Be sure to enlist a little help from your child the next time you cook. Fetching utensils and stirring ingredients are fun to small children. Measuring ingredients like sugar and flour properly are invaluable lessons to any future baker. This is the time to teach them.

Add Responsibilities They Mature

Everyone in the family eats and so everyone in the family should have kitchen responsibilities. My daughter's first duties were to set and clear the table for each meal. With vacation time here and the deluges of kids running through my house, she is also responsible for replenishing the Kool-Aid pitcher. We buy the kind you have to add sugar to make it. Cleaning-up the mess they make after consuming it, is also up to her.

On their Own

When they start to cook on their own, they must follow the rules. My daughter has just moved on to the microwave. She's allowed to make popcorn and reheat food. (Just the other day her breakfast consisted of leftover green beans and blue Kool-Aid. That's my girl.) Before vacation is over I'm going to move her on to using the Bread Machine. What an easy way for them to get baking satisfaction.

Family Projects

Kids have always been involved in baking cookies, but why not have them help with more complicated recipes? Next time you pick a multi-stepped dessert enlist your child's help. Baking bread from scratch or decorating a cake can be less time consuming and more fun with your kid. They can help read the recipe (over and over if necessary), gather equipment, measure ingredients and can even add their own personal creativity to the project.

Fruits of the Adventure

You're teaching your child something they will need for the rest of their lives. It doesn't need be overly serious. It's just as important to be able to laugh at our mistakes, as well as be proud of our successes. I guarantee your adventures together in the kitchen will be remembered. Just be sure to make them wonderful memories.

*Older doesn't necessarily mean your child is mature enough to cook alone in the kitchen. Not all children mature at the same rate. Know your child. One of your children may be mature enough at 5 to do certain tasks, but your 7-year-old may not be. Don't force the issue. Baking together should be fun not drudgery. If you're worried your child won't ever mature, don't. Just stop providing all of their meals and they'll either sink or swim. Eventually, they're want more than cereal to eat.

Now, your child might be mature enough, but not tall enough. No child should ever be allowed to cook at the stove if they have to use a stepladder. This is extremely dangerous.

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