3 Things in the Kitchen to Teach Your Kid Before Going to College by Lynn Dugan

My oldest daughter Becca (on right) and her friends started cooking together in high school and have made many delicious treats in our kitchen!

Do you have a high school senior? If so, are you going through a mental inventory of what he/she needs to know before going off to college? I’ve been wondering myself if my own senior son has the laundry skills, checkbook balancing know-how, and the motivation to clean a dirty bathroom before he goes off to college at the end of the summer. There is so much to learn in so little time! While all of that is swirling in my head, what I can feel good about is that he is equipped in the kitchen with basic skills. Here are three things in the kitchen to teach your own child before going off to college:

Basic knife skills and safety
Make sure the chef’s knife you are using is sharp and is being held with fingers wrapped around the knife’s handle and the index finger and thumb gripping the knife’s base. Practice first by cutting some fruits and vegetables. Discuss a few pointers while enjoying the process: cutting downward and away from your body, always using a cutting board and never cutting on metal surfaces, Formica counter tops, stoves or in your hand. Remember, too, that knives should be hand washed and never thrown into a dishwashing sink amongst other dishes.

Food safety
This lesson is a very important topic for a cook of any level. Cutting boards used for raw meat should never be shared with produce (or anything else) before they are washed and sanitized. Pay attention to ‘use by’ dates on packaged foods. Know proper cooking temperatures (cooking poultry to 165 degrees and ground meat to 160 degrees). When thawing frozen food, it should always be done in the refrigerator overnight (instead of on the kitchen counter), and perishables should be refrigerated as soon as possible when brought home from the grocery store or when used in a recipe. Practice regular hand washing and keep work surfaces clean before and after food prep.

Stove Top Skills
Basic instructions go a long way when navigating a stove top. This new know-how should include how to turn on each burner, how to match burner size with pot size, and when to use the different low, medium and high heat settings. Together, you can start with boiling water on high heat for pasta or rice and then turn down the heat for the remainder of the cook time. Basic pan frying or sautéing skills are also helpful as a quick method for cooking protein and vegetables. For example, diced chicken cooked in a skillet can be added to the pasta or rice made in the steaming/boiling lesson (add marinara sauce or pesto and some shredded cheese for an easy meal). Try sautéing vegetables in a little olive oil like the sliced zucchini and onion you may have cut in the knife skills lesson. It makes a delicious side dish. Below is a super easy recipe you can use to further develop stove top skills!

Most importantly, enjoy this time in the kitchen with your child. It will be time well spent!

Cheesy Beef and Tomato Noodle Skillet
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound lean ground beef
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 14 ounces water
  6. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  7. 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  8. 1 medium sliced zucchini, cut ½ inch thick
  9. 1 cup uncooked egg noodles
  10. 1 can (14 ounces) fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  11. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a 10-inch skillet, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Remove beef with a slotted spoon; pour off drippings. Season with salt and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, add water, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper, zucchini and egg noodles. Push pasta into liquid. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Return beef to skillet and heat through. Sprinkle dish with cheese and serve.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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