Cooking with Kids, Beef Stew

My twins will be 4yo this summer, and I find that I’m often unsure what they’re really capable of, in terms of gross and fine motor skills.  Sometimes, I over-reach and give them tasks that are just a bit too advanced for them (better to try, though, right?), while other times, I find that they’re much more advanced than I give them credit for, and all they need is some gentle guidance and an opportunity to shine.

Cooking is one of those places where they surprise me.  We participated in a free kids cooking class at the Easton Public Market several months ago, and I was shocked at how quickly they took to chopping veggies and fruits.  They absolutely loved it.  So I’m trying to include them in the meal preparation more and more.

Today, we made fresh bread (they helped to knead the dough), and Beef Stew.

The bread is something that I make for our family every week, so it’s nothing new or exciting.  Just…bread.

But the beef stew is new to the kids, in terms of helping in the kitchen.

I seared the beef.

I minced the onion and garlic, and sautéed everything.

I gave the kids a big bowl of washed carrots and red potatoes.

I set them up with cutting boards and big crinkle cutters, effective for little hands (plus,  they like the wavy edges).  I gave them each a sample size of carrot to guide them.

They both really loved doing it, even my son (who often doesn’t stick long with tasks, and quickly wants to move on). They wanted to eat alllllllllll the carrots, though.

Then potatoes.

We put all the pieces in our prep bowl.

And we dumped them in the simmering base.

Tonight, we eat warm bread and fresh beef stew that we prepared as a family.

The boy’s.

The girl’s.

My bariatric portion.

The baby’s dinner:  Homemade sweet potato mash.  She doesn’t know what she’s missing.

The lesson in all of this is that my kids surprise me with their skills and their willingness to try to help out with the daily stuff.  I love prepping meals with them because, while it takes a bit more time and a lot of patience, it helps us to make memories together and they learn that food doesn’t just appear magically on the table, but that it requires work.  We’re also going to have some fun growing some of our veggies this summer in the organic community garden at our church, chopping them, cooking them, and eating them.  We got a root viewer to help them see how carrots and beans grow roots.  It should be fun.  I think I’ll plant that around Mother’s Day.

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