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Teens in the Kitchen: Back to Basics

CDKitchen Cooking Columnist Christine Gable
About the author: Christine Gable
Culinary enthusiast; kids cuisine and slow cooking; magazine recipe developer; professional writer. Her simple recipes are great for family dinners.
Much has been written about the challenges of the teenage years. All those hormones, all those neural connections forming and purging, it can make for some challenging times. Misunderstandings can happen at the drop of a hat. That’s when it’s even more important to get off the roller coaster of busy modern life and find time to reconnect with your teen.

And that’s the beauty of the kitchen. It brings us back to one central, very human need: food. And while busy schedules may find us all heading in different directions so many days, this coming Thanksgiving is the perfect time to find some time to connect with your kids in the kitchen.

Whether getting home after a busy day of work, school and errands, we discovered — and hope you do too! — that one of the most centering and satisfying activities is to make a home-cooked meal.

What is it about cooking a meal that is so centering? Maybe it’s like something that some call a moving meditation. Each step and action requires our full attention. Think about it: if your attention is elsewhere, (or you’re trying to multi-task), that’s when meals get burned, or just don’t taste their best.

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So when we’ve been going too fast, for too many miles and too many days, it’s time to slow down and make simple, rejuvenating food. Not only will it satisfy your body, but your soul. And it can certainly help your teens find a haven amidst all the changes they’re going through. Plus, it’s a great way to cover those necessary basics and get some mealtime help!

Not long ago I discovered that there were several basic things that I was taking for granted that my kids knew. Oh, sure boiling water and making pancakes and jello have been mastered long ago. Yet chopping an onion or dicing a carrot seems so simple . . . unless you’ve never been shown how to do it. How exactly do you peel it, slice it or hold it safely? Yes, I learned it was time to start chopping and sautéing more combinations of vegetables.

But start wherever your teen is, and it will all grow from there. When scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese or cake mixes are no longer a challenge, it’s time to move to the next level. It will eventually evolve into meals that teens can cook themselves.

Here’s one of the first meals we often cook when we’ve gotten home—whether from a vacation or a harried day of errands. It’s also a perfect one-pot meal to get your teen going in the kitchen. The ingredients are usually in the pantry and freezer, so it’s just a matter of washing, chopping and simmering—the best learning parts.

Take a chance on cooking together. Yes, you just might be thankful there’s a teen in the kitchen.

Next week: 10 Ways to Use That Leftover Turkey

Sausage, Potatoes & Peas

Sausage, Potatoes & Peas

Made with milk, black pepper, ground sausage, potatoes, (16-oz. size) frozen peas, butter, salt

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       I am a teenager past the mastering of scrambled eggs, mac and cheese, and cake mixes. After eating my meal, my mom has decided to let me cook dinner twice a week!

    Comment posted by Amy

       That's wonderful! What are your favorite things to make? Please feel free to send me an email (through the bio link above). Next week's column features Kids Night to Cook at our house. . . but I'm curious, is there anything you'd like to read more about here?

    Comment posted by Christine


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