My friend Annie and I have kept our FAMILY COOKING ACADEMY or “FCA” (kid-created labels) going for over two years now: our two families gather quarterly to plan, shop for, cook and of course eat a menu featuring seasonal, local produce from our Farmer’s Markets. We often include meat, but this time we decided to go completely vegetarian. My husband was suspicious, but halfway through the meal he said, “I didn’t think I was going to like this, but everything is really great!”
The amount of helping (or trying new things) always varies with the kids, but all of them really seem to love it. When we shop at the farmer’s market, they often run off to the playground, but we can usually get them to take photos or help us hunt for items.
Annie and I do the planning via email in the week before, bouncing ideas off of each other. We do mostly new-to-us recipes and as you’ll see choose recipes that are quite complicated. We have a couple of chefs-in-training that are detail oriented, and lots of hands, so we keep that in mind.
Then the host writes up a basic plan of attack – and then we fumble our way through it – teaching the kids (and each other) techniques as we go.
To me, this is a dinner party at it’s best: the food is fabulous, but the “performance anxiety” is nil. Everyone contributes (including washing dishes as we go) and because the kids are so involved, we feel like we are passing on our love of cooking from scratch and eating seasonally to them. We hope you’ll be inspired to try this with family friends as well!
Here’s our most recent menu: