Name: Rebecca Coleman
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Children: Gus (4.5) & Dove (4 months)
Online Home: Cooking With My Children
What's not to like about a mom who lets her kid eat cookies and sherbert for breakfast? Lest you think Rebecca's a total slacker, we should mention that these are breakfast cookies with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, bananas and raisins. And that sherbert? It's basically a cold smoothie with strawberries and yogurt. Rebecca's cooking is all about spins, big and small, to make food and cooking more...fun!
Rebecca doesn't just cook for her children, she cooks with them. Daughter Dove is a bit young, but her son Gus has become a capable sous chef not to mention a capable and curious eater. The food they make together is extremely accessible even if you're a butterfingers in the kitchen. It's also healthy, quick to get to the table and meant to satisfy both kids and adults. Not only will Cooking With My Kid give you fabulous ideas for cooking outside the (macaroni) box, but spend enough time with Rebecca and somehow you adopt her culinary mindset and start thinking about your own twists and tweaks to make meals and mealtime more fun for yourself and your kids.
We asked Rebecca to tell us more about the origins of Cooking With My Kid as well as the experience of cooking with her son:
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I was standing there, in front of the freezer, choosing between chicken nuggets and fish sticks and it struck me that I had really gotten lazy about mealtime. Don't get me wrong, the chicken nuggets were organic but the foodie in me was appalled! It was at that moment I decided to make a commitment to spend the next 365 days cooking at least one new recipe a day together with my kid. That was in December of 2009. Hmmm… I think at that moment I also forgot I was pregnant, either that or I'm insane.
What's your philosophy about cooking with kids?
Keep it simple, silly! (KISS) In our house, if a recipe doesn't pass the KISS test, it doesn't get made. Kids have neither the patience nor the palette for elaborately prepared food and frankly, I do not have the time. My recipes and my blog are designed to put fresh healthy meals on the table fast. And the truth is, sometimes uncomplicated food is the best kind of food.
Who taught you to cook?
My mom makes some really great stuff; she always involved us in the kitchen. But the day-to-day hands-on experience has made me a much better cook. It's amazing how the repetition makes you more intuitive and confident in the kitchen.
Has cooking together changed your relationship with your son?
Absolutely. The greatest change is that I no longer have to nag him to try new foods. Cooking together has really broadened his palette. It didn't happen over night, but once we got into the groove, he started asking to taste everything! He doesn't like it all, but he's really great about giving almost anything a go. Except tomatoes! You'll see that as a theme throughout the blog. For some reason I cannot get him to try them.
What's his favorite thing to make with you?
That's easy. Popovers. He L-O-V-E-S to break them open and watch the steam come out.
What safety precautions should parents take when cooking with children?
Talk about how things work in the most frank way possible. Tell him in plain English. I know that this might sound alarmist, but you should say "Don't touch the stove, it will burn you and we will have to go to the hospital." Or "The blade inside that food processor could cut your finger off." Don't mince words. We're talking about really important stuff here. And it probably goes without saying, but when you are cooking with your kid, you can never take your eyes off him.
Which of the recipes on your blog should a parent start with if they consider themselves a dunce in the kitchen?
We have a whole section on the blog called Easy Cheats. It's about combining store bought items with fresh ingredients to whip up something great. It's really more like food assembly than a recipe, but it's a great way to start.
Are there any recipes or techniques you wouldn't recommend trying with a child?
I will not even keep a Mandolin Slicer in my house.
You've written 10 Tips for Adventurous Eating (AKA: How to Deal with a Picky Eater!) - how can parents keep from getting discouraged if their kids won't eat the food they make for them or with them? (I've been known to throw up my hands and sigh, "Why do I bother?")
Kids' taste buds are much more sensitive than ours. In other words, they taste foods more intensely. New things can take some getting used to. One of my 10 tips is all about mixing new and old. So make those chicken nuggets but do something new and different on the side. Or make a new fish dish but put some fries with it. But most importantly, keep trying. I had to put green beans on my kid's plate 13 times (yes, I counted) before he ate them. Now he loves them. True story.
What's next? What foods or recipes are on deck for you guys?
You know how it seems like every culture basically has some kind of enchilada? Like manicotti is the Italian version and a blintz is the Jewish version and so on? We're going to do the week of the enchilada and make a different version each day. Can't wait!
Neither can we! Thanks Rebecca!
(Images: Rebecca Coleman)