So the good news is that I have broken my mother’s cycle. See, I was rarely allowed in the kitchen as a kid because my mom didn’t like to clean up the mess that she knew would result from my cooking or baking forays. I let my kids in the kitchen as much and as frequently as they want. In this little slice of my life, I can proudly proclaim, “I am not my mother.”
The not so good news is that I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut while my kiddos are cooking. Let them dice a tomato with a steak knife? Nope. I CAN NOT do it. Beat cookie dough with a wire whisk? Makes me crazy. Remove cookies from the baking sheet with a rubber spatula? Are they trying to drive me to the brink? This past week, three of the four have been in the kitchen A LOT. Let’s just say there have been numerous “discussions”, heated discussions . . . ok, let’s call a spade a spade -tirades- about certain kitchen practices.
The thing is, I love it that my progeny like to cook. I am proud of the fact that they are so tuned in to healthy eating practices. I grin when the 4 year old reminds me not to buy the Asian yogurt because it has Stevia in it instead of real sugar. I adore the looks on their proud little mugs when they serve their creations around the family table. So why, oh why, can’t I just zip it and let them navigate the kitchen on their own?
Call it bossiness. Call it intolerance. Call it a downright character flaw. It’s all of that and so much more. But it’s also like so many of these challenges in parenting. Seems we mama types are always walking the beam and trying to balance between guiding, directing and instructing and just letting them explore and figure things out on their own. So on I trudge with the good fight. I try to bite my tongue, zip it, put a sock in it when necessary, and correct without losing it when possible. I have found that some dishes lend themselves to less correction and conflict than others. This little Roasted Beet Salad with Vinaigrette and Crumbled Goat Cheese is just one of those.
We start with some nice red beets. These ones just happen to have come in our box of all organic and local produce which we have delivered every week by Abundant Harvest Organics.
The kiddos trim the leafy stems (which are great for adding into smoothies by the way) and the pointed root ends. Then they wrap the bulb of each beet with aluminum foil. You see where I’m going here, right, not much room for variation in the execution of this cooking adventure.
They preheat the oven to 425 and place the foil wrapped beets directly onto the oven rack. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to roast depending on the size of the beets. When they are soft and easily pierced by a fork, they are done.
After they have cooled a bit, the kiddos remove the skin from the beets. The skin falls away really easily, but the hands can get pretty stained on this step. Possibility of kid correction — 70% depending on parental tolerance for messes and staining.
At this point, the beets can be sliced, garnished and served immediately (sometimes I love a warm beet salad and other times I’m looking for something slightly chilled and refreshing), or just sliced, packaged up, and refrigerated and saved for serving later. In our case we refrigerated about a day and served up for the following night’s dinner.
To serve, we just arranged them on a platter, drizzled with some homemade vinaigrette, and topped with goat cheese and fresh herbs. Simple, straightforward, and a wonderful first course!
So go forth, Mama friends, spread those arms and walk that balance beam. Let those kiddos in the kitchen and let them spread their little culinary wings. But do me a favor, and if you see them trying to separate an egg using a measuring cup, slap them (humor) – – – I mean give them a little lesson and direction.