Chef in Training

This past Sunday Jack planned and helped cook brunch.  He has always been very curious in the kitchen and really wants to start doing more.  At eight years old he is now old enough to take on more tasks so it was his turn to shine.

It started with the planning.  He really wanted to make quiche, not a big surprise since all three boys LOVE quiche.  Jack, however, doesn’t care for a pastry crust.  I asked him which crust he wanted (pastry, shredded potato or quinoa) and he said he wanted something different.  I suggested we could try a cauliflower crust and he was very excited about that.  He also decided he wanted his quiche to have bacon, sharp cheddar and broccoli.

Jack then announced he wanted scrambled eggs with the quiche.  This is when Mama had to push him in another direction.  I let him know we didn’t really need two egg dishes in one meal!  He decided it was time to plan the dessert.  His first choice was a fruit tart.  That would be his favorite brunch sweet treat.  Once again I pushed him in another direction.  As his instructor I didn’t really want to go over teaching  him to make pastry and custard, plus the quiche.

So I pushed him in the direction of what I wanted, but still involving fruit like he wanted.  Celia recently had a recipe on her blog reusing cookies in a fruit crisp.  I knew immediately I wanted to try that out and Jack was game too.  Earlier in the week I made snickerdoodle cookies (without the cinnamon chips) just so I could have them to crush for the fruit crisp topping.  No fear, the boys enjoyed eating cookies during the week since I didn’t need all of them!

Cooking with Jack

With the planning done I was able to buy everything during the week.  Jack was excited all week and by the time Sunday arrived we got to work earlier than usual for brunch since he couldn’t wait any longer!  He was even still in pajamas! His knife skills are still in the very beginning stages so I cut the cauliflower florets myself, thus resulting on whining and complaining “I can do that myself Mama”.  He is very independent, stubborn and impatient.  He might get some of those traits from me…

He was able to pulse the cauliflower in the food processor and that made him happy. He wanted nothing to do with putting the crust in the pan though.  According to him “your hands AREN’T the best tools in the kitchen”!  In other words he isn’t keen on getting them dirty in mushy food.

Cooking with Jack

With the crust blind baking in the oven it was time to work on the filling.  Mr. I Can Do It All Myself started cooking the bacon but admitted defeat when the grease started flying.  He helped cut broccoli and grated the cheese.  Then he cracked the eggs.  The first one he spilled half on the counter, he improved after that!

Once the quiche was in the oven he thoroughly enjoyed crushing the cookies.  He first hit his thumb but after listening to my pointers he had at it without further injuries.  We cut some pears canned from our trees, added frozen cranberries and stirred in some warmed blueberry maple jam (made from berries we picked last summer).  Jack put all that into individual ramekins and sprinkled the cookie crumbs on top.

Cooking with Jack

One of the hardest parts for him was waiting for the quiche to cool a little before serving.  While he waited he helped whip some cream for the crisps.  He also got a lesson from Daddy on how to open a bottle of bubbly.  What’s brunch without a sparkling drink of some sort?!  He did well and burst into laughter when the cork hit the light fixture (no damage)!

After pouring ginger ale drink in flutes for all the boys it was time to serve.  My big boy was so proud of himself, he glowed!  Of course he picked the largest fruit crisp for himself!  We all thoroughly enjoyed brunch that day, even more than usual knowing Jack played a big role in the preparations.  Josh and I are working on getting the boys to be able to serve us breakfast in bed and now we are a little closer to that goal.

Cooking with Jack

I’m not sure what Jack liked more. Learning to cook or bossy his brothers around since it was his meal.  They had trash duty and were only allowed to help when Jack gave them permission.  Sean and Ewan argued over who got the plan the next brunch.  Ewan will be next, let’s see what menu we come up with next….

** Quiche recipe will make an appearance later when I have time to photograph it without three hungry boys hovering!



16 thoughts on “Chef in Training

  1. ladyredspecs

    I believe cooking to be a life skill as important as vocational training, so it’s great that Jack has an interest and that you’re willing to teach him. The first step to independent living….and breakfast in bed

    1. Gretchen Post author

      It is definitely a very important skill, along with the nutrition lessons that go hand in hand with cooking. Someday all three can cook for me, a girl can dream anyway!

    1. Gretchen Post author

      He was excited. Last night when I fixed dinner he observed and wrote all the ingredients down. Now it’s Ewan’s turn to plan and help cook brunch.

  2. ChgoJohn

    Way to go, Jack! You, too, Mom. Sounds like you’ve got at least one budding chef under your roof. Cannot wait to read about Ewan’s efforts. I will say, though, that it was a smart idea foregoing the Critics’ Comments. No need to ask for trouble. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s