Cooking with Grandma. It was one of my favorite memories. Since the passing of my grandmother, I love knowing that we had these moments together and I want to encourage my kids to do the same.
I remember it like it was yesterday... My grandmother was standing in the kitchen, on the special stool she kept there so I could reach the counter, making dough for dumplings with my help. I can still remember the feel of the dough as it squished between my little fingers and the way the breeze blew threw the white lace curtains that hung over the sink. And, if I listen hard enough, I can still hear the sound of my grandmother’s musical voice as she told me how her grandmother had taught her how to make dumplings the same way. It was a history lesson as much as it was a cooking lesson and I loved every moment of it.
Years later, before she passed away, she still told me her stories, but now I was cooking for her.
Now, as a parent myself, I love when my mother and my mother-in-law want to cook with my children. It’s not only a special opportunity for my kids to learn to cook, it’s also a great way for them to bond with their grandparents. I want my kids to learn first-hand about their heritage and the amazing people who came before them.
A Grandparent’s Opportunity
As a grandparent, you have an amazing opportunity to share your culture, traditions, and family history with your grandchildren. You know stories that their parents don’t know and you can teach them all about how things used to be. You have the opportunity to make their family tree come alive with your memories - and cooking can be the tie that binds. You can tell your grandchild all of those stories that you want them to carry on... share all of those pictures that you want them to share one day.
There’s no right or wrong way to start cooking with your grandchildren. Even the youngest ones can help make cookies or roll dough. The key to sharing the experience and the memories is to make the time spent cooking fun. Instead of opting for dishes that children traditionally don’t like, think of recipes that you loved as a child and try making those. Not only will it be fun for your grandchildren to experience a recipe from your childhood, it will also bring back memories for you.
Keep It Positive
Don’t worry about small mistakes, just use the opportunity to teach. When you’re cooking, be gentle with your words and your actions. Encourage your grandchildren and explain the process of cooking step-by-step. If they’re not used to cooking with their parents, chances are that the entire process of cooking will be brand new to them. It’s your chance to be the one who teaches them how to cook! Have fun together! Be silly! Let your child see that side of you and encourage her to show you her fun side, too. It will be a great memory one day.
Remember, the more fun and relaxed you make it, the more they’ll want to spend time cooking with you!
One of the most important things to do while cooking your grandchildren is to keep talking. Tell stories about memories from your childhood. If you’re not sure where to start, think about how you used to help your mother or grandmother in the kitchen. What were their favorite dishes? Were there any special holiday-only recipes they would make? Use the world of cooking to spark those memories and tap into the wealth of knowledge you have stored up.
Whether your grandchildren are six or sixteen, cooking with them breaks down barriers and helps create a strong relationship. Those times spent in the kitchen with you will be the moments that your grandchildren cherish forever.