Sarah Joy Albrecht

It’s Not About the Food: Children in the Kitchen

Sep
07

Vietnamese Spring Roll Assembly

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. – Ecclesiastes 4:9

I’ve observed that people who have bad relationships with their parents seem to have been kicked out of the kitchen as kids. “I never learned to cook” is a common thread with hurting adults. The more I thought about this, I realized that children who are kept out of the “heart of the home” miss out on a very integral aspect of personal growth.

Having my children in the kitchen with me is important. They’re often there, working alongside of me, in our little test-lab for life, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about the benefits of this.

Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had with my children have happened while working together as a team. I’ve noticed that fidgety kids with occupied hands seem to be able to relax mentally, sort out their thoughts in a more coherent way, and share them more freely. Perhaps this is because the attention is focused on work, and not on them and if they are saying things “correctly”.

When families work together in the kitchen, they’re not merely in close proximity (like being in the same room and looking at different screens), they’re working toward a common goal. Participating in family life, especially the behind the scenes work, are opportunities for children to practice humility and selflessness (“I can’t wait until Dad tastes this!” “Make sure to check the ingredients so our friend Bryce doesn’t have an allergic reaction!”).. and also to feel a part of something bigger.. to be valued for their effort and work ethic.


I’ve observed that parents who do not allow their children cook with them are often perfectionists themselves… and produce perfectionist offspring.
They can’t fail in front of their children. They can’t let children make mistakes or messes. They are more concerned about clean and quiet than love and learning. When kids work alongside of their parents, however, children learn how to handle mistakes in stride, how to work under pressure (if you don’t stir the eggs while you make lemon curd, you have scrambled eggs with lemon!)… and to enjoy and appreciate their food, value the where it comes from, and the effort it takes to prepare it.

Of course, one of the best benefits of having children attending to meal preparation is that they actually learn how to cook!
My older children (now 12, 11 and 10) can be trusted to follow directions and create an entire meal on their own. My 10 year old is also quite the grill-master.

That’s not to say that parents always have to cook with children in the kitchen. (I certainly do kick my kids out every now and then, especially when they need a good run in the back yard!) However, more often than not, they’re right next to me boiling water for pasta, breading cutlets, stirring oatmeal, and sharing their hearts with me.

Sarah’s “Healthy Fats” Salad – Turkey, Avocado, Granny Smith, Raisins…

Nov
19

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For health reasons, I have been trying to eat more protein from poultry (vs. beef), more healthy fats, more B-complex vitamins and more fiber.

This salad has it all, it’s really tasty, AND it’s a great way to use leftover turkey.

Sarah’s Healthy Fats Salad

Makes 2 Servings:

1 cup cubed turkey
1 whole avocado, cubed
1 medium tart, firm apple .. like a Granny Smith, cubed
Sprinkling of raisins
Sprinkling of crushed walnuts
Drizzling of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (Di Giovanna is my favorite)
Drizzling of rice wine vinegar

Nutritional Info Per Serving (Click for complete)

Calories 440.9
Total Fat 23.3 g
-Saturated Fat 3.3 g
-Polyunsaturated Fat 5.0 g
-Monounsaturated Fat 12.4 g
Total Carbohydrate 41.7 g
-Dietary Fiber 9.6 g
-Sugars 26.4 g
Protein 22.6 g

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The Sensuous Onion

Oct
31

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Reading: The Supper of the Lamb

Sep
27

“The graces of the world are the looks of a woman in love; without the woman they could not be there at all; but without her love, they would not quicken into loveliness.” – Robert Farrar Capon, PAGE 4 of The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

(Only page four! What goodness is yet to come? )

The book began with a lamb dinner recipe including the ingredients+notes:

“Soy Sauce (domestic only in desperation)” and “Sherry (if you have any left)”

May I kiss this cook? Would he want to kiss me and/or eat my pancakes?

I’ve not been so twitterpated over food writing since How to Cook a Wolf.

Supper of the Lamb was recommended by @BekaAJohnson. Follow her, already!

Simple Lunch: Tomato Soup With Basil, Parmesan and Biscuits

Sep
26

Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
Proverbs 15:17

The cupboards are getting bare.

September’s grocery money is nearly gone.

We’re breaking into the canned food.

Today’s lunch was a simple canned (store brand even!) Tomato Soup. However, a pinch of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh basil from the garden turned a mundane can of boring into a steamin’ hot feast. The biscuits were from America’s favorite baking mix and took 5 minutes to make. They baked while the soup came to a simmer.

I almost didn’t make the soup today because my children – yes, the same ones who will eat ear-ringing hot sauce and international curries – don’t like tomato soup and the complaints were quite loud.

Still, I insisted that, even though it wasn’t their favorite food, it was sustenance and that perhaps by adding ingredients, it wouldn’t be as bad as they’d imagined.

Empowering them with a plate of biscuits to crumble in, snippets of basil and a container of Parmesan, they each created their own version of the soup.

Every bowl was finished down the last drop.

Don’t merely be content, be creative. It’s easy to look at what is set before us – food-on-a-budget, possessions, parenthood, employment and even relationships – and feel as though we have to suffer through. Yet, there is joy to be found in taking something ordinary and making it better; redeeming it.

Sometimes “making it better” doesn’t involve changing the object or situation itself, but our attitudes. When our mindsets change from drudgery to thanksgiving, we are then free to contribute meaningfully and nurture. Nagging and complaints stem from a root of bitterness. Compliments (finding the good) and nurturing grow from love.

Love is like Parmesan and fresh basil to store brand canned tomato soup.

Simple Lunch: Spicy Coconut Chicken & Zucchini

Sep
24

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This is a concoction I made with leftovers and pantry ingredients + some herbs from my (now end of season) garden (can I just say that fresh herbs are such amazing flavor pick-me-ups?).

Why do I have the Simple Lunch category? It reminds me that, instead of feeling dizzy and moving through my day with a hunger headache, I can actually whip up something quickly that I will enjoy eating. Most days, I have to get to the headache stage before I realize this. I’m getting better though!

I have a feeling many moms are the same way… going about their day, taking care of their children, and surviving on room temperature milk left in sippy cups and PBJ crusts. Shall we encourage one another to take better care of ourselves?

Spicy Coconut Chicken & Zucchini

Sauté minced garlic and ginger in a skillet.
Add cubed chicken (leftovers from that big batch of broth I made!)
Add chopped zucchini (mine was from the bottom of my veggie drawer, mushy parts cut out!)
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a pinch of curry powder
Stir the goodness together for a minute to distribute the spices
Pour in coconut milk (canned) to cover your chicken/zucchini
Simmer for a few minutes until the zucchini is tender and coconut milk thickens
Sprinkle on minced fresh basil and cilantro (I had leftover basil from our pizza last night!)
Plate and serve with lime wedges and Red Chili Hot Oil

..because Moms need to eat lunch, too!

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