The Importance of Cooking With Family

(and some recipes)

The+Importance+of+Cooking+With+Family

Karis B.

Everybody needs food, and most people love it. Why shouldn’t they? People have found so many different flavors and spices like sweet, salty, savory, etc that other people enjoy. On top of that, most countries and cultures have many of their cooking styles, foods, and recipes that the rest of the world wants to use. Cooking at home can become a fun hobby that anyone can do. I have developed a love and a skill for cooking over quarantine, and one of my main joys right now is cooking with my sister. 

Youth must learn how to cook before they leave home and venture out into the world. The website EatingWell.com states that “cooking with youth has loads of benefits that carry way beyond the kitchen. It helps builds self-esteem, teaches them the importance of following directions, and (hopefully!) puts them on the path to a lifetime of healthier eating habits.” This means that cooking can be a useful tool in the future, and it can be learned right now. 

My family has a ton of recipes passed down to us. I have two siblings, and we all find joy in being in the kitchen, even my ten-year-old brother that plays baseball and videogames, and nothing else. Using family recipes together is a great way to have family bonding and share quality time. 

I’m going to share a couple of favorite recipes here, and how to make them. Some background knowledge that might come in handy is oven/stove safety, browning meat, having a clean workstation, time management, and the dangers of raw foods. Oven/stove safety is very important; you are literally playing with fire here. With the oven, use oven mitts to retrieve the pan(s), and if you don’t have oven mitts just use a dish towel or something like that. With the move, just don’t touch the pan or the fire. You will burn yourself. Browning meat: this is not my favorite thing, mostly because it is boring. The dangers of raw foods are also applicable here because you’re dealing with raw meat. This action is completed by taking a package of ground meat, in this case, turkey, and putting it in a pan. After setting the heat, all you have to do is take a spatula and separate all the meat until it’s in small chunks. Then keep doing that until you can no longer see ANY pink meat. Boom, meat is brown. Time management and keeping a clean workstation are both kind of obvious how they work. We use these tools to help us stay efficient in the kitchen and have less work to do later. The dangers of raw foods: eggs, meat, flour, all of it should be cooked before consuming them because all could lead to sickness. Especially eggs. Although eating a little bit of cookie dough doesn’t hurt anybody.

How to make Turkey Enchiladas 

Ingredients: 1 package of ground turkey (or beef), at least ten flour tortillas, a lot of shredded cheese (I don’t have an exact measurement), one bottle of enchilada sauce, one package of taco seasoning, green chilies (optional), and a can of beans (refried, also optional).

Tools: one large skillet, a spatula, a 7-by-11-inch oven-safe pan, one round cake pan (or just flat, round thing. Maybe a pie tin).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

The first step is to brown the meat. As explained above, take the large skillet and place the meat inside, with a little bit of what. Ground-up the meat with the spatula until there isn’t any pink meat left and all the water is evaporated. Step two is adding the taco seasoning and the optional beans and chilies. Mix them into the meat and set them aside. Step three: On a countertop space, put out the 7-by-11-inch pan, the cake pan, and the rest of the ingredients. Step four: assembly. This is putting it all together (you might get a little messy). Put a small amount of sauce into the cake pan, and place a tortilla on it. Flip the tortilla and use your fingers to spread the sauce all over that side, then flip again and spread the sauce on the other side. On top of the tortilla, place a scoop of the meat mixture, spread out in a line in the middle of the tortilla, and a small handful of cheese on top of the meat. Roll the tortilla up, and place it on one side of the empty pan. Repeat this step until the entire pan is filled with enchiladas. Step five: take the rest of the enchilada sauce, there should be ⅓ or ½ a bottle left, and spread it all on top of the enchiladas. Then take a large handful (or two) of cheese and spread that on top as well. Place it in the oven for 12 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted, and you’re done! Remove from the oven and have some enchiladas. Side note, these make a lot of leftovers, but they are still good for a week if they are refrigerated and reheated.

This is a great recipe to do with the family because there are so many parts that can be split between people. My sister and I split so she cooks the meat, and I assemble the enchiladas themselves. You could also make an assembly line sort of with family or friends to complete this. Making something can help you feel accomplished, but making something with other people make you both share the accomplishment and the result as well. Here is another recipe my family and I use. We found it online originally, but We have modified it to fit our standards over the years. Before anyone gets technical and points this out, this is the Nestle Tollhouse recipe with a few modifications.

Chocolate chip cookies!

 Ingredients: 2 ¼ cups of flour, 1 teaspoon (tsp) baking soda,  1 tsp salt, 1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp.), ¾ cup granulated (white) sugar, ¾ cup white sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract,2 eggs, Chocolate chips (as many as you want(; ), and 1 tablespoon of milk.

Tools: small mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, a spatula (to stir with so don’t use one you’d use on a quesadilla or something), cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

It is important in this recipe to follow the directions exactly and to not just mix all the ingredients in one bowl. To start, In the small bowl put the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix, and set aside. The second step is to put the butter, both sugars, and vanilla extract in the large mixing bowl, mixing well. Add the eggs into the sugar mixture, and slowly mix in the flour mixture. Sometimes the dough can be a little dry, so you add the milk to soften it. Add the chocolate chips, and after that, you have made your cookie dough. Put one or two-inch dough balls on the pan about three inches apart, likely a 3-by-4 array. Cook in the oven for 10-ish minutes or until golden, or however you like your cookies (that’s up to you). That’s it!

My whole family loves sweets. This recipe has been used my entire life to make cookies and has always made the desired product. A few modifications we’ve made are doubling the vanilla, adding milk, and using different flours. The original recipe had only 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, but I have learned in all my baking adventures that doubling the vanilla works amazingly. The flour thing is the result of different allergies and preferences of taste and/or texture, so if those apply to you feel free to use flour other than all-purpose. 

One thing to remember with booth recipes is the dangers of raw foods. Eating big amounts of raw foods can cause serious illness, and is not fun. Flour, eggs, and meat are all great examples of foods not to eat before they’re cooked. Yes, eating a little bit of the cookie dough is fine, but only a small portion because it contains multiple raw ingredients. 

Now that you have these recipes to use with your family, remember that cooking with other people is beneficial to your relationships as well as your health. Learning from each other can help with healthier eating habits, as well as building some self-confidence with new skills. Happy cooking!