Kids in the kitchen

Blue Ribbon's classes for tykes teach more than just cooking skills

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How to get kids hooked on cooking

Make your kitchen kid-friendly. Your child should be able to reach the counter and whatever tools he or she needs.

Use real cooking tools. Teach proper techniques for using stoves, sharp knives, can openers, and peelers. Children will respect the danger these tools can present if you teach them proper methods and let them practice under your supervision.

Give kids room to create. Set out an assortment of ingredients and then let them go.

Play a restaurant game at home. Have your children draw up a menu for adults to order from. Even if the dish is simple, kids get a kick out of taking orders and passing out the bill.

Allow kids to serve at dinnertime. It'll get them involved in meals and teach them good presentation skills.

Delegate small tasks. Let children arrange food, create salad dressings, or add designs to cookies and cakes.

Give cooking tools as gifts. A good one to start with is a citrus zester, because kids enjoy making a curly, colorful slice of peel.

Let mistakes go. After all, cooking is about trial and error.

Cook "real" recipes with your kids. Don't dumb things down for them, or rely solely on children's cookbooks. Instead, follow tested recipes, making small alterations to lower the skill level.

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