Eleven O’Clock Recipes. Yes, Your Teen Can Cook.

by Becky on November 28, 2012

in Food, Parenting

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A little story.

My older daughter, who’s heading off to college next fall, said something almost exactly like this to me recently: “Mom, I need to learn to cook some stuff.” The irony here is that we are total foodies. We start the day off with big, drippy breakfasts. We graze throughout the day. We sit down to a hearty spread at night. We. Love. Food.

You would think I would have hauled my kids into the kitchen more, wouldn’t you?–for a tutorial here and there, right?  Sometimes I’m guilty of what I call “faster-if-I-do-it” thinking, which doesn’t help my kids, not one bit.

The irony doubles back, too. Twenty-four years ago, newly married and with my head deep in my grad school books, I could scarcely follow a recipe, nor did I want to. Every once in a while, we’d slow cook a roast, my husband and I, but other than mac and cheese, we pretty much had our poor-starving-newlywed arrangement down.

Fast forward. I really like cooking now. And I have paid for my modest successes with loads of failed meals. Two things changed the way my kitchen and I get along. One, I realized the value of good tools. About ten, maybe twelve years into my marriage, I looked at my husband one day and said something almost exactly like this: “You know what? You have all your high tech gadgets, and you wouldn’t dream of trying to work without them! If anybody expects me to turn into some kind of meal wizard, I need some tools. Some really good tools.” And so I got some. I bought a slick Bosch mixer, in which I make doughs which in turn make me look good because they rise and become divine things like cinnamon rolls and pizzas. (It’s the tools, I’m telling you!) And it went on like that, with me building my store of kitchen accessories and my meals getting progressively tastier and my family saying things (almost exactly) like, “Whoa!” and “You made this?” and “Can you make this again?” and “Wow, this is good!” (intoned in such a way as to suggest that the previous offerings might not have been quite as adequate). Eventually I acquired a (very nice) pressure cooker, for example, and voila!–ribs and roasts so tender they made you feel almost reverent; homemade refried beans that made you wonder whether you needed anything else to accompany them. In short, it’s not just technique, although that is important. It starts with decent tools.

Two. I asked some pros how they did it. In my case, I had several pros close by: my mother-in-law, who’s a super hero in the kitchen after a lifetime of practice; and my sisters-in-law, who grew up with Madame Super Hero. I watched. I started to ask questions. I began writing down recipes and tips. One sister-in-law, the bread/pizza maker extraordinaire, never allows salt to come into direct contact with her yeast when she’s baking. “I’m very gentle with my yeast,” she’s always said. And in addition to soaking up what I could from the Dream Team, I attended cooking and baking classes. It was fun! I realized I could do something besides read, write, and teach. The kitchen had become my friend.

But baby steps, right? My daughter wants to learn the recipes for some of the things I serve all the time, especially for breakfast (since breakfast is an all-day proposition, right?). So I got to thinking, and I decided I’d type up a few of our go-to, get-full-fast recipes, with teen-friendly instructions, and let you all practice at home.  Note:  I address myself to the teen crowd.

Scrambled Eggs Deluxe, Meant To Take The Edge Off Your Starvingness

2-3 eggs, depending on your hunger level (shells washed and dried BEFORE you crack ’em, because salmonella is scary)
1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise (either Best Foods or Hellman’s)
1 to 2 teaspoons milk, depending on whether you’re using 3 eggs
a handful of grated cheese (cheddar works well, as do combinations like cheddar & jack, or four cheese Mexican)
1 teaspoon butter
salt & pepper to taste

Heat your pan on medium low for 2-3 minutes.  The heat level differs depending on whether you’re using an electric or gas stovetop, so be prepared to adjust the heat up or down.  While the pan heats up, crack the eggs into the blender. (Yep, the blender is key.) Add the mayo and the milk to the eggs and blend the mixture well (5-7 seconds). Now add the butter to the pan, let it melt (the butter, not the pan), and swirl the butter around. Done? Good. Now pour the egg mixture into the pan. With a spatula, stir in the grated cheese and keep the eggs moving while they cook. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to desired saltiness/peppery-ness, and keep everything moving until eggs reach desired level of doneness. I like to use my spatula almost like a pastry cutter, meaning I’m constantly breaking up the mixture as it cooks. (My teens like their eggs that way, is all.)  Then:  serve it up.

Chase the eggs down with a huge glass of very cold milk. You will be pleasantly full for at least thirty minutes, guaranteed.

Provecho!

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