spaghetti, tomatoes and basil

spaghetti, tomatoes and basil

A

nd now a few words about our awesome experiment.

The week school let out, a family meeting was convened to discuss some of our individual expectations for the summer along with a review of the ground rules that would keep us all from hating the very sight of each other by July 4th. It was during those conversations that The Three agreed to a 12-week program of our design in which each child would be responsible for deciding on what we will eat for dinner and preparing that meal with the support of a parent.

One week in and I can tell you what you already know: that the level of participation, organization and skill varies based on each child’s age and interest in cooking. Roy boldly seeks out the most complicated entrees that sound appetizing, always pairing them with a dessert, of course. On Friday, a lack of close supervision (mine) paired with a 10-year-old’s culinary sensibilities resulted in our lemon ices being ready to eat four hours before the brisket he’d committed us to (out of Lucinda Scala Quinn’s new cookbook). Dinner was late that night. C’est la vie.

By contrast, Peaches picked chicken enchiladas because she likes to eat them. I appreciate that; personally, I’m highly motivated to cook something that I love to eat. That having been said, Peaches’ contribution to this dish consisted primarily of putting the ingredients for the green sauce into the blender and turning it on. But over the course of our hour together, she learned what a tomatillo looks like, the difference between a colander and a strainer, and how to turn on the stove without having the burner make that terrifying whooshing noise at you.

(There’s nothing quite like doing some mundane task from beginning to end with your child to help spot the holes in the education you’ve given them in caring for themselves in the great, wide world.)

The dish above has been my favorite thus far: Marcel’s brave attempt at Summertime Pasta (another of Ina Garten’s recipes) that he selected from the stack of cookbooks. First, it wasn’t macaroni and cheese and it was a real possibility that it was going to be. And, second, as we minced garlic together, I kept stopping to look across at him, tiny pieces of garlic stuck to the handle of his knife, his fingers, everywhere, and I thought, ‘This is how all of the best things start, messy and overwhelming until they—quite literally—stick to you.’