Mom and author of the award-wining cookbook The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love,†Chef Amy Fothergill (amythefamilychef.com) says a parentís #1 job in the kitchen is to keep kids safe. She offers up the following ways kids can help in the kitchen, improve their cooking skills, and stay safe.
1. Make salad/rip lettuce: Make sure little hands are clean and then get them to work. Children can rip lettuce with their hands, spin the salad spinner, or add veggies to the bowl.
2.† Mash things that are not hot: Things that can be mashed: cauliflower, butternut squash, broccoli, bananas, or even strawberries for shortcake.
3. Cut with a plastic knife: Make sure what they are cutting is soft, like melon, a peeled cucumber, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.†
4. Stir a sauce: If you are making a sauce either for dipping or for a marinade, let your child watch you measure and then allow them to mix it up. You can pour the ingredient into a cup or spoon and the child can pour it into the bowl. Children love to use whisks!
5. Baste meat: Although this is an activity that requires more supervision (no finger licking allowed!), using a brush to baste chicken, fish, or beef is a lot of fun!
6. Roll meatballs:†You donít want to do this with a child who is too young and who might eat the raw meat or lick their hands; supervision is most definitely suggested (ages 7 and up).
7. Measure flour and/or ingredients: When you are making things like pancakes, waffles, muffins, or even cookies, itís really OK if not everything is exact. †Kids can learn how to level off the flour, baking soda or powder, measure sugar, and use a liquid measuring cup. A lot of this takes patience when they are young, but will pay off later.
8. Roll dough: Thereís a reason why play dough is so popular; kids love to roll things. Now, maybe you donít want them rolling your famous holiday pumpkin pie, but thereís always something they can do with the extra pastry or pizza dough or even cookies. They can use a regular rolling pin, a kidís one, or just their hands. Just keep an eye on what goes in their mouth if the dough has anything raw in it like eggs.
9. Mix a batter: Whether itís pancakes or pudding, give them the whisk, paddle, or spatula and let them go to town. Just make sure the batter stays in the bowl!
10. Decorate cakes or cookies: Make cake and cookie decorating more fun and less like Cake Boss. Let them add color, candy, frosting, etc. Just be careful to not overdo it on the sugar!