Monday, April 30, 2007

Culinary Curiosity

Years ago, the Hubs and I had a therapeutic group home for teenagers. Four boys ranging in ages from 11-18 resided with us, and we (mainly Hubs, it was his job) would provide life skills training, and other stuff.

My job was teaching them how to cook. They had to cook for everyone, once a week. No excuses. If you missed your cook day, you bought pizza for everyone with your allowance. Some concoctions were rather, er, interesting. There was the time one kid used sweetened condensed milk in a casserole instead of evaporated, or once we were served cold half cooked spaghetti with a watered down tomato soup sauce. Most of the time, however, the meals were good. The kids quickly learned that there was no getting out of cooking by ruining dinner because they would still have to eat it.

Jake has now become the age where he wants to cook. Begs to cook. He's a natural, really-at 18 months old I had him in his high chair mashing bananas for banana bread. He loved to watch Martha Stewart at 2 years old and regularly gives me suggestions for dinners....and 90% of the time, his suggestions ("Mom, try basil in that") are right on target.

So yesterday as the smell of lamb and feta meatballs wafted through the house, Jake and I pressed our noses against the oven door as we salivated over the little morsels. Vegetarians, we are not. It took great restraint not to down the entire batch in one go, and we counted up the leftovers to divide into plastic containers to take for lunch the next day.

"That looks REALLY good." The kids in my room eyed my lunch. I hovered over it like a lion protecting it's kill.
"Thanks, my kid made it." Blank stare. Kid? Cook? For Mom? It's foreign territory to most kids, I'm sure.
"You're kidding." Some looked at me with disbelief.
"Nope. And let me tell you, these are the best meatballs I've ever had" I speared a piece of stray salty feta.
I was asked for the recipe in about 2 seconds flat.

When I picked Jake up after school today I asked how his day went.

"Great Mom," he chirped. "Only everyone wanted my lunch because it looked so good."

For once, I think this tendency of his to become a little obsessed with things could really work in my favor.
Especially if it's cooking.

Looking for the recipe? It's over here.

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