I'm a good cook. I love to cook. I'm honestly not sure where or when I learned to cook but I've always loved it. I started cooking young, using recipes and have graduated to "throwing things together" that almost always turn out yummy. I don't remember my mom cooking a lot but we always ate dinner so I'm guessing someone was cooking during the week. On the weekends my dad did "dad cooking!" You know, chili, grilling, those manly man things. He was a pretty great cook. I remember watching him and talking to him in the kitchen. I have always been very comfortable in the kitchen.
On the other hand my older sister is NOT. She can cook when she puts her all into it but she has always been very intimidated in the kitchen. She has seriously called me a dozen times over the past 15 years to ask me how to bake potatoes! She only cooks from recipes and often misses steps or makes a fatal mistake (like substituting 1/2 cup dried basil for 1/2 cup fresh basil in a red sauce).
Now on to my girls, Haley is 14 and has been cooking since she was about 7. She always loved being in the kitchen with me, helping out as much as she could. At an early age she was free to play in the kitchen as long as she didn't use the stove or oven without an adult. One day my husband and I were down and out with the flu and 8 year old Haley and 4 year old Olivia were forced to fend for themselves most of the day. Around 4:00 I came out of my stupor and realized I should feed them. Not to worry, Haley said she had made them grilled cheese sandwiches, but being the rule follower that she is she improvised and used the microwave instead of the stove top. After that I gave her a little more freedom in the kitchen and she blossomed into a great cook.
Olivia is 10 and very sporty. She will dabble with cooking now and then but has never had a passion for it. Occasionally, she'll see something on tv or in her American Girl magazine that she wants to make for us.
This summer I decided that in order to make my girls BOTH self-sufficient and fearless in the kitchen I would charge them each with the task of preparing at least one meal per week. This means they have to figure out what they want to make, put the required items on my grocery list and then prepare and serve. 2 weeks in and I would say it is going great! Haley kicked it off with Taco Pockets out of a Rachel Ray cookbook and Liv tackled garlic lime chicken from the church cookbook. Now, mind you, my instructions did not say they had to prepare recipes from scratch, from cookbooks. I clearly said they could boil pasta and serve it with jarred sauce as long as they took the initiative to make sure we had the ingredients and the time to cook them up, they had met their responsibility for the week.
The challenge is on. They are both scouring my mountains of recipe books (which I rarely touch, as I said above I'm more a 'throw it together' kind of cook), watch Food Network, scanning the internet. I believe they have their menus planned for several weeks out.
Yesterday my sister called me to ask what she can do with "small red and white potatoes" that her boys picked at their grandparents farm. I suggested she roast them and then explained that she would need to halve or quarter them, toss them in oil of some sort, sprinkle with some seasoning and then cook at a high temperature until done. This prompted 3 more calls to clarify whether she should toss them in a bowl or put them in a tuperware and shake them around, what exactly is a "high temperature" and how would she know when they are done.
Liv looks at me and says....."so that is why you are making us cook all summer."