I probably waited way too long to teach my son to cook. My daughters just seem to have picked up the basics without formal instruction. My son, well, he figured out how to make a few things, mainly college-subsistence meals like Ramen Noodles and boxed Mac & Cheese. He even branched out to rice and beans, but I don’t know if that was so much a recipe as just figuring out how to make rice and dumping a can of beans in for good measure…by which I mean protein.
Now he’s boomeranged back home and I find the need, if not the time, to bring him up to speed on some basics so that he can be a contributing member of the household, beyond the occasional chauffeuring stints. He does do his own laundry…but he cycles through his entire wardrobe first. This sometimes results in weather-inappropriate clothing, but I leave that to him.
I decided to focus on two family recipes. The first was lasagna. Now, a noodle in this dish is also called a lasagna, but multiple noodles are lasagne…so, a language lesson in a cooking lesson! It comes from my grandmother who was not known for her cooking prowess…she got the recipe off of the box of lasagne. Regardless, it has become a family legend and one of my best dishes. I wanted to share this “crowd pleaser” with my son.
It is really a simple recipe, but it is a bit time consuming. The first time around, I procured all of the necessary ingredients. I enlisted my son in making the sauce…the heart of the dish. It is redolent of Italian sausage, garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Meanwhile I cooked the noodles and prepared the ricotta/romano/egg/parsley layer. Together we assembled the layers, noodle/ricotta/mozzarella/meatsauce then a repeat of the above. Into the oven to bake.
This time around, I had already purchased all of the ingredients and challenged him to find them prior to the start of cooking. I’d say he scored a “C” in this exercise. Nevertheless, he took the lead on the sauce and did manage some measuring and stirring on the other parts of the recipe. I would say that our first time, he did 30% of the work and 10% of the thinking. This time, he did more of both. I do believe that if he took the recipe to the grocery, he could manage the list. I also believe that he could subsequently make the dish all on his own…he might panic a bit, but I have confidence that he could master it.
For our second dish, we made something that my family calls, “Mexican Rice and Bean Soup”. I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I suspect it came out of a magazine in the 1950’s given it’s inappropriate claim to being “Mexican”. It is a comfort-food recipe which is a bit of cutting of onion and pepper, and browning of breakfast sausage links, and a lot of dump-and-stir to finish it off. It is lovely with some corn bread. We went the Jiffy route on that, although I have my own homemade recipes that are even better.
Life lessons are priceless…
Find the Joy in the Journey…especially when you pass along lessons that come back to bless everyone involved!