Saturday, August 17, 2013

(Not) Too Many Cooks

It all began with breakfast. Breakfast for dinner, that is.

On Friday evening, right before I began cooking pancakes, eggs, and turkey bacon for dinner, my nine-year-old son asked if he could help me cook dinner. This has never happened before. He's never asked to help cook. He's never asked to help with much of anything. I had just read a magazine article identifying all the chores my kids could do if I only made them. With this in mind, I told him I'd love to have him help me cook.

I let him use the stove, separate eggs, and cut fruit. With some oversight, he did everything except make the pancake batter, which I'd already completed before he came on the scene.

As we finished dinner, he surprised me further by saying he'd like to plan and cook a meal. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he welcomed his younger sister's input on the menu and preparation.

With my help, they settled on a menu. Proving that my children have only low-brow and high-class taste with no in-between, they settled on filet mignon as an entree, which would be my responsibility. Who was I to argue with genius?


The crowning glory of the meal was to be the dessert that my son created. I had to admit that it sounded pretty good.

While I did the breakfast-dinner dishes, they scuttled off to their desks to make the pretty menu and place cards for their fancy dinner. I promised them that, if they were still interested in the morning, after I ate breakfast and finished my coffee, we would make our shopping list and go to the store.

two kids working together at a desk

The kids were still fired up about it this morning, but they let me sleep in anyway, earning them huge brownie points. After I finished my coffee, we made our grocery list. I've never seen two kids more excited to go grocery shopping.

little girl bagging green beans at the grocery store

child's hands pushing shopping cart

They were helpful. Very helpful.

two kids pushing a cart out of the grocery store

Keeping with the helpful theme, my husband took the kids out to lunch without me to give me a little quiet time (hooray). When they returned, the three of us made the pumpkin bread for the special dessert, then headed out to the pool for the rest of the afternoon.

Then I put them to work.

peeling potatoes

They took turns at the different tasks: snapping beans, peeling potatoes, making homemade whipped cream and homemade butter, arranging the fruit platter, and setting the table. No fighting, no complaining--a team effort.

snapping beans

The results were spectacular.

dinner table

Pumpkin Bread with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, and Homemade Whipped Cream

We are all overstuffed, and the kids are very proud of themselves for both their ideas and execution. Everyone agreed it was the best meal we've ever had at home.

What the kids don't realize is that, now that I know they can do all these things, they will be helping in the kitchen a lot more going forward (hooray for that). I am constantly amazed at what they can do when they put their minds to something. Maybe next, laundry?

The menu: filet mignon, steamed green beans tossed with olive oil and sea salt, homemade potato chips, fruit plate, sliced tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and mozzarella, rolls and homemade butter, pumpkin bread with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and homemade whipped cream.


  1. Nom nom nom. Sounds delicious! And I am impressed with how excited your kids were and they followed through!

  2. Sounds and looks like it was totally delicious. Keep putting those kids to work. I still remember how shocking it was when Emma said she wanted to cook dinner the first time -- at one point about a year ago she said she was going to make dinner one night a week which happened for about 2 weeks. We may need to resurrect that! She makes excellent spaghetti carbonara and also great quesadilas.

  3. Great job Cynthia. Since I was one of six, Grandma made me iron Grandpa's hankies. We all had chores, one had to set the table, one had to clear the dishes and one had to put the dishes in the dishwasher. As I look back at those younger days, Grandma was putting some structure in our lives.