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

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