Thursday, June 1, 2017

Clark Summer Cooking Adventures, Part 1: Koda's Mac 'n Cheese

This is the best fact I could get out of him, silly boy.

It's summer! And that means my (Sumiko's) kids will be doing the cooking! Each kid is in charge of cooking and cleaning up dinner one night each week. Of course, they have Mom's help and guidance, but I let them do as much of it as they can.

Making the roux.

First week's meals are as follows:
Koda: stove-top mac 'n cheese
Keanna: penne rigate with creamy pesto and Japanese cucumber salad
April: waffles
Lukas: chimichangas and bean dip (he's my burrito boy!)

We started last night with Koda's mac 'n cheese. You can find the recipe on my baked mac 'n cheese post. The kid-preferred stove-top variation is mentioned toward the bottom.

One thing that I love about cooking is that it is a great teaching opportunity. As we cooked, we talked about the science behind what we were doing. Why do we add flour to the cheese sauce? To thicken it. How does flour thicken things? The individual flour granules act like little sponges--they soak up the liquid and swell up. Why do we stir the flour into the butter rather than just mix it directly into the milk? To separate the flour granules before they swell so we don't end up with lumpy cheese sauce. I love it! I get one-on-one time with one child, dinner gets made, they learn a life skill, and they learn the concepts behind cooking so they can apply them to other dishes.

Another great benefit of having the kids cook for everyone else is that it teaches them to serve and be grateful. Koda was so happy to make macaroni and cheese for his family. And they were so appreciative. Every other kid complimented him on his dish without prompting. My heart swelled as I sat at the dinner table and heard the kids showing love to each other. Having the kids cook means more time prepping dinner and more mess, but it is a small price to pay for the character rewards gleaned.

Proud of his accomplishment!

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