Kids in the Kitchen

My paternal grandmother was from Central Italy, a small village outside of Campobasso. Back in 1965, my parents stopped in her home town while on their honeymoon. They described a village surrounded by rolling green hills dotted by flocks of white sheep and filled with the wonderful tastes and smells of Italy. When I was about 7, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and she didn’t cook as much but until then, she was a GREAT cook. Though she’s been gone for 25 years now, I still have clear memories of her cooking. Fabulous foods whose names rolled out of your mouth as easily as the delicacies rolled into it. Things like braciole, cosciotto d’agnello con aglio [leg of lamb with garlic], stromboli, and at Christmas, pizzelle (which we continued to make just like this for many years). So it was with my Nonnie in mind that my 4 year old and I set out on adventure to make a gigantic pot of Jeanna Paula Anzluena’s Pasta Sauce with Meatballs.

For me, this was an act of homage to my grandmother but for my daughter, there were really just two main attractions : 1. the opportunity to pulverize a variety of herbs and vegetables using my food chopper and 2. mixing and rolling food with her bare hands. As I mentioned previously, I’m not a mom who regularly treads into the land of craft projects but cooking with my kids is a whole different journey. The kitchen is our canvas and food the medium. They smell the spices in our spice drawer, they mix, measure, pour, fill and taste; and they definitely get messy. Since my kids are young, we haven’t crossed into the vast terrain of reading recipes and using sharp cutlery yet but the road ahead is long.

In the end, I am pleased to say that we turned 2 lbs of ground meat into these:

my child got to play with food–mix, mash and roll–without being reprimanded and we now have enough sauce and meatballs to fuel us right into pizzelle season. Mangiamo!

For more great ideas about fun things to do with kids in the kitchen, check this out

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caitlin
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 09:34:38

    Getting to know things about you! Italy, alzheimers…didn;t know. Knew that you were a great cook though. Cooking is the best craft because you can eat the results.


  2. EP
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 10:10:21

    Considering the modern alternatives for children (TV/PC’s/etc), none could be as enriching (& filling!) as hands-on cooking. The smells of herbs, the sound of chopping and mixing ingredients, and the taste-testing throughout the process will hopefully yield an appreciation of food & self confidence in experimenting and creating for rest of her life!

    (BTW – you can’t eat a cardboard caterpillar. Well, I suppose you could, if you’re really low on fiber in your diet…)


    • growingmuses
      Oct 05, 2010 @ 20:53:33

      Thanks EP, I appreciate your words of wisdom and vote of confidence. You sound like someone I’d love to know. Hope you keep reading my blog. You’re pretty witty too; maybe you should consider starting a blog yourself ;o)


  3. elizabeth
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 20:47:42

    You’re Italian???? Wow. That explains so much. 😉 I had no idea you had a Nonnie! I’m not the only one with secrets. Blog on, my friend. Blog on.


  4. elizabeth
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 20:48:44

    ps – you must be good at guilt, too. it’s in there… it comes with the genes.


  5. Sara Morrison Neil
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 22:44:38

    I just saw this hilarious site, Jim’s Pancakes. Seen it yet?


    • growingmuses
      Oct 17, 2010 @ 23:41:31

      wow! those are amazing (slightly indicative of an underemployed dad who may spend more time with his griddle than his super cute kids) but hey, impressive nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Rachel
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 15:55:31



  7. Rachel
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 15:57:32

    Was pasta fagioulle one of your grandmother’s (or however you spell it)? That’s one of our regular favorites, and it always makes me think of my dear friend. Can I have more recipes???


    • growingmuses
      Oct 28, 2010 @ 22:33:35

      Sure! I’d be happy to post some of them, her pasta sauce is pretty dandy too (I mean to link it to Kids in the Kitchen as soon as I figure out how to). That one takes about 2 hours though (or a better part of an afternoon).


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