The ABC's of Cooking with Lynn Fredericks
author of Cooking Time Is Family Time

Lynn Fredericks
gives new meaning to our ABC's.
Each installment will focus on a new ingredient beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. E is for Equipment features recipes, fun and family activities.


 E  is for Equipment
Successful "Family Cooking" requires basic utensils and cooking equipment that are safe and easy to use by family members of all ages. I'm not talking about fancy items like appliances with sausage-maker attachments or phenomenal mandolins (though these devices certainly have their place in the cook's kitchen)! Rather, it's the basic tools:
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Garlic press
  • Grater
  • Rolling pin
  • A blender
  • Knives

The following are a few optional extras that are most essential to a family's ability to prepare a broad culinary repertoire:
  • Vegetable corer
  • Potato ricer
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Pizza wheel
  • Ice cream scoop

Note: Any brand names I may indicate are ones I have tested with children. I am not endorsing one brand over another; rather I am giving my opinion based on the equipment I have tried to date.

Look for long-handled utensils, preferably wooden or plastic, that do not conduct heat. In terms of measuring cups and spoons, I find plastic is easier for kids to handle. We've been getting great results (fewer spills, more exact measuring) with nesting-types, such as Tupperware's, which double as a liquid and dry ingredient measurer.

It is interesting to note that many of the more routine and monotonous culinary tasks like peeling, chopping, and grating have been taken over by machines (where possible) because adult cooks find them tedious and 'don't have the time.' But when children enter the picture, even toddlers, they adore these jobs because kids enjoy and learn from repetition. So while parents may avoid recipes that require these steps or even dislike making salad because of all the chopping -- your own kids can be your ideal collaborators on such dishes. In fact, like most parents, you may be very surprised at just how willing and capable they are!

When working with my own children and with families in class settings, I've dispensed with the food processor for common chopping and grating tasks, because I've found kids really enjoy doing it by hand. Thanks to companies like Tupperware and OXO 'Good Grips,' there are fabulously ergonomically designed tools perfect for little ones and their parents alike.

Below are some family activities introducing some more unusual kitchen tools, along with some proven family-friendly recipes from my book, Cooking Time Is Family Time.

Let's Cook!


Family Activities:

1. Grating - Potato pancakes or carrot cakes are most delicious when grating these vegetables with one's very own hands! The Tupperware "Grate 'n Measure' is the safest, easiest and most mess-saving design I've found. It has two pieces, a metal grater that locks into a stand that is angled for easy use and is attached to a cup that catches and measures what you are grating. Ask kids grate their own cheese for pizza or grilled cheese sandwiches and enjoy the pride on their faces at a job well done!

2. Food Mills/Ricers - Make pureed vegetable soup with a ricer rather than a blender. It's fun for them, but little ones usually need help as it takes some muscle power! Seeing the results — streams of thin, noodle-like vegetables pour out of the device — is really fun for kids. "I did that!" they gleefully exclaim, taking great pride in the manual effort that turns squash or potatoes or beans into soup!

3. Grinding Spices - There is nothing so wonderfully stimulating in the kitchen as the aroma of freshly ground spices. Try to buy as many whole spices as possible, and let your kids grind them to their hearts' content with a mortar and pestle. Don't forget to try it with saffron — kids go over the top about the color, aroma and unique flavor.

4. Blending Nutritious Concoctions - For some jobs, nothing other than a blender will do! Fruit smoothies are one of these. Whether made with juice, yogurt, soy milk or regular milk as the base, adding fresh fruit makes a delectable concoction. For family use, KitchenAid blenders are extremely durable, and contain kid-friendly features such as smooth-touch control panels, warning lights that the blender is left on and a pouring spout as well as a large middle spout for adding ingredients while you blend.



Check out other recipes that bring the whole family together:

>>> Buy This Book

Cooking Time is Family Time: Cooking Together,
Eating Together, and Spending Time Together

by Lynn Fredericks, William Morrow & Co., August, 1999

In COOKING TIME IS FAMILY TIME, Lynn Fredericks shows people how they can improve the time they spend with kids by inviting them into the kitchen to help prepare meals.

Included are 125 recipes emphasizing a variety of fresh, healthful ingredients and strategies to get kids to gobble them down. Each recipe offers directions that specify which steps are right for younger kids and which are more challenging for their older siblings.


Cooking with Kids Home
The ABC's of Cooking ::: Aa |Bb |Cc |Dd |Ee |Ff |Gg |Hh |Ii |Jj |Kk |Ll
Kid's Meals | Lynn's Thoughts on Feeding Her Children | Recipes | Book