With homeschooling underway, many parents are looking for ways to incorporate culinary lessons into their at-home curricula. A caller on Milk Street Radio recently came to hosts Christopher Kimball and Sara Moulton looking for advice on the foundational skills she should teach her children, hoping to instill confidence in the kitchen through more regular cooking instruction.
“I would pick 12 recipes that represent different styles of cooking methods,” Kimball said. He suggested starting with scrambled eggs or basic stir fries, soups and braises. These techniques can translate to countless dishes, giving young chefs a robust skillset to build on.
"Few foods are as elemental or have as many lessons as eggs," Food Editor Matt Card adds.
Moulton agreed with choosing dishes to demonstrated different techniques, and also recommended pursuing one technique from several angles. A lesson on roasting could include chicken, potatoes and vegetables, demonstrating the full range of one cooking method (and culminating in a delicious meal!). Kimball and Moulton both agreed that reviewing safe knife skills should be part of every lesson.
“If they get 12 recipes down after a year or a few months, they’ll know more about cooking than 99 percent of anyone you know,” Kimball added.
Kimball also suggested a lesson that focuses on experimenting with flavor and embracing improvisation. Take a basic quick bread or biscuit recipe and let your kids add different flavors every time they make it. Mixing and matching spices, fresh herbs, nuts, chocolate and dried fruit to create both savory and sweet breads will demonstrate how one recipe can be adapted. Your kids can also learn what flavors they like and begin to think about cooking beyond written-out recipes.
It’s not just cooking that they’ll learn, either. “You can teach absolutely everything through cooking: history, math, science, English, organizational skills,” Moulton said. Whether you choose to focus on recipe comprehension, study the chemistry of baking or use recipes to inspire lessons about history and culture, there are so many ways to teach through cooking.
Listen to the episode for more and for other recipes well-suited for your kitchen classroom, consider the recipes below.