November 28, 2013 in Adventures in Parenting, Chocolate! (and other less exalted food experiences)

I have entered a new era in the world of parenting: my thirteen-year-old son has learned to cook—by himself. (My youngest son is his sous chef.) Meaning, he can be in the kitchen and I can lie down on the couch and take a nap because I don’t have to hover over him every second making sure he doesn’t mess up the recipe or light himself on fire.

This is an amazing milestone, for both of us. If he is displeased with the lack of “good” special treats in the house, he can whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies himself, and I don’t have to stop folding laundry or pull myself away from helping someone with their homework to help him. And he cleans up after himself! It really is a miracle.

Sure, there have been some missteps. He learned the hard way that there is a difference between baking soda and baking powder. He over-baked his first batch of cookies, rendering them flavorful, yet very hard to bite into. When making a batch of No Bake Cookies that were only supposed to boil for one minute, he learned never to walk away from a boiling pot to wrestle a sibling to the ground. He continued to get better, but even when he did everything right, he still said “Why aren’t these as good as yours?”

But I coached him along (from the couch), teaching him my tricks: how to defrost butter fresh out of the freezer, how to turn on the oven, how to start with wet ingredients and then mix in the dry, and how to start the electric mixer on a slow speed when adding dry ingredients so that flour doesn’t explode out of the bowl and all over the kitchen. And most importantly, I didn’t get up from the couch! The kitchen was his domain. He could ask any question he wanted, but the ultimate act of cooking was his and his alone.

His most recent batch of chocolate chip cookies was spot on, and the snickerdoodles he made last week were–and this is the truth–better than mine. They were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with the perfect amount of cinnamon…divine.

This year, I told the kids I was going to give them each a cooking job for Thanksgiving dinner, and my oldest actually said “Great!” I’m going to give him the job of supervising my younger two as they make these treats:







But I’m also going to take it a step further and teach him how to make the granddaddy of desserts: a Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake! (Don’t worry; we’re having pumpkin pie too.)

Wishing you all a warm Thanksgiving filled with family, loved ones, and great food made by dedicated cooks!