Kids in the kitchen!

by Don Bingham

Circumstances in my home while growing up necessitated for me to learn to cook. Mom was a great cook, and loved anything fresh from the garden. We maintained gardens in the country — and though I did not appreciate it at the time, it was often my chore to sit on a stool and move up and down the bean patch rows in the hot sun for those wonderful rewards on the dinner table. I hope one day to return to the “scene of that bean crime” and measure the distance — I just know those rows were at least eight miles long — I’m just sure of it!

As you might know, I also learned the delight of sugars, baking and the fact that some people even pay for the service of others to cook! I would not begin to say we were always taught healthy lifestyle cooking — but we were taught the basics and certainly the discipline of cooking combined with the delight of dining.

My wife and I have always encouraged our children, and now our grandchildren, to cook and experiment in the kitchen. On a recent Sunday afternoon, we had a cookie decorating party with seven grandchildren and two of our nephews and niece! Each was presented with their own personal apron and workspace!

It is still a family tradition for us to pass down the secrets to treasured recipes. Almost on a daily basis, one of the adult kids or spouses will call for directions or ingredients on any given recipe.

One of our grandsons approaches the kitchen with each visit to see if he can help. We receive photos on our phones of his latest creation while cooking at home!

The addiction to video games and overactive schedules of parents and children have lessened the opportunities for cooking lessons, but there is still the opportunity to teach the next generations the joy of cooking. While there may be lots of reasons for teaching kids to cook — less expensive than eating out, preserves family heritage, instruction in the really important things in life — probably the greatest asset is equipping them for healthy lifestyles in the future.

Children and youth enjoy measuring, assembling and even chopping tasks. Nothing is more exciting than seeing the finished products and to share them around the table.

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby. They have compiled some age appropriate activities that can get you started.

Activities for 3- to 6-year-olds:

Washing fruits and vegetables.

Cleaning tables and counters. 

Rolling things up on a baking sheet.

Making shapes with cookie cutters.

Activities for children 6 to 10 years old:

Reading recipes.

Writing the shopping list when told the ingredients. 

Using measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients. 

Stirring ingredients in a bowl.

Using a dull knife to spread.

Prepping fruits and veggies without a knife (snapping beans, husking corn).

Activities for 10- to 13-year-olds:

Following steps and preparing simple recipes with little adult intervention.

Using a microwave oven and stove.

Using a hand grater.

Using a knife with supervision.

Operating a hand electric mixer.

Activities for teens:

Planning a balanced meal, party menu or special event. 

Reading a recipe and creating a shopping list. 

Operating a food processor and blender.

Making multiple ingredient recipes without supervision. 

Teaching kitchen safety.

Included here are some simple to challenging recipes for starting the process of teaching “Kids in the kitchen!” What a grand way to “pay it forward” for healthier life styles in the coming generations!

New Pizza


1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt 1/4

2/3 cup warm water

3 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. In mixer bowl, put olive oil, sugar, salt and water. Add yeast mixture. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time. Will be stiff. Knead 5 minutes. Let rest 30 minutes. Punch down. Stretch dough into a 10-inch pizza pan.


4 cups onion, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic


1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

6 ounces goat cheese

1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes

8 quartered black olives

Chopped parsley

Saute chopped onion in olive oil, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Spread onions over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. 

Crumble goat cheese. Sprinkle with tomatoes and black olives. Bake 10-15 minutes more until crust is done. Dust with chopped parsley.


3 medium bell peppers, chopped and seeded 

3 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

5 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped 

2 medium red onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup salad oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Garlic croutons

Mix all ingredients together except croutons; put in refrigerator for 2 hours. Take about 2 cups of mixture and mix in blender for about 15 seconds; stir all together. Chill. Serve topped with garlic croutons. Serves 8.

Raw Vegetable Dip

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese

9 chicken bouillion cubes dissolved in 15 tablespoons 

boiling water

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Blend ingredients together. Serve with assorted raw vegetables or crudites. 

Serves 15-20.

Bread Stix

Slice 1 package of hot dog buns or steak buns into sections; spread with melted butter; sprinkle with parsley, granulated garlic, poppy seeds, etc. 

Place in oven (325 degrees), brown until golden and dry until crisp. Makes approximately 2 dozen.

Ice Box Cookies 

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups shortening

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup nuts

5 cups all-purpose flour

Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs, flour and soda, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and nuts. 

Roll, chill and store in refrigerator. Slice and bake at 350 degrees. Makes about 8 dozen.