About the Author
Barbara J. Brandt, M.Ed., is a 4-time award-winning author with over 30 years experience teaching, cooking and creating curriculum for top national educational publishers. She’s combined her rich expertise in these areas to create the kind of kid’s cookbook she couldn’t find in a bookstore—one that actually teaches kids to cook. The result is an innovative breakthrough in cooking education that is bringing the pleasures, pride and traditions of home-cooked food back to the family table.
Teaching Kids To Cook: How Hard Can It Be?
The old saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention’—is typically true. But in my case, Your Kids: Cooking! was born out of failure—my failure at trying to teach my 11-year-old daughter how to cook. To my surprise and dismay, it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be.
Here I was, an experienced and accomplished teacher, a darn good cook, and a stay-at-home mom whose first priority has always been family. Though when it came time to teach my daughter how to cook, it was a complete disaster! Even though I knew how to both cook and teach, somehow trying to teach her to cook just wasn’t working. Not only did she get bored as she sat there passively watching me show her how to do everything, I also mistakenly assumed that she had picked up on basic cooking techniques and terms from watching me cook over the years.
For example, when we tried to make cookies, I assumed she knew the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon when measuring salt. I assumed she knew to set the dial on “bake,” not “broil,” when turning on the oven. Needless to say, we never got to taste our salty cookies because they came out of the oven looking like hockey pucks! The cookies ended up in the garbage and we both left the kitchen frustrated. Not exactly the “Normal Rockwell” mother-daughter moment I was hoping for. So much for teaching your kids to cook being fun!
Realizing that teaching my daughter to cook was going to require more than pulling out a recipe and hoping for the best, I started attending local cooking classes for kids to get some fresh ideas. I watched lots of kids sitting at tables – with no utensils or ingredients – and a chef in front of the class demonstrating how to prepare the recipe. A few of the lucky ones were invited up front to help out, but then only barely. For the most part the kids looked bored and unengaged—just like my daughter had been.
After learning all I could from the “experts,” I made it my mission to create a method for parents to teach their kids to cook that would be fun and effective and keep kids engaged. One that would deliver what seemed to be the missing ingredient—learning by doing! The big question was how?
“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.”
– Napoleon Hill
I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually it came to me—create a video with step-by-step demonstrations of how to make a recipe and combine it with written directions presented in a way that’s easy for kids to follow. That way, kids could be shown how to prepare every step of the recipe and still be able to do everything themselves. The adult’s role? Sous chef! There to help out when needed, provide encouragement, and keep things safe.
Well, guess what happened? The reversal of roles paired with a multimedia approach proved to be a success! My daughter learned to cook and loved every minute of it. I learned to “let go” and trust in her ability to do things on her own. And the two of us spent some much needed quality time and had fun – learning, laughing, and growing closer. Mission accomplished!
My Gift to You and the Kids You Love
All the parents I know—moms and dads alike—agree that time spent with their kids is the most precious gift they can both give and receive. And to be able to spend that time teaching them a valuable lifelong skill, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
Your Kids: Cooking! is my gift to you and the special young people in your life. And it is my most sincere wish that it brings the same kind of joy and fulfillment to you and your family as it has to mine.