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09 December 2010

I Can Cook

I have many memories of cooking with my mother as I grew up. The kitchen was the centre of the house and meals were loud affairs with a fair few generations screaming at each other.

I remember clearly baking biscuits that I expected the family to devour.  These same biscuits were alternatively used as clay pigeon targets.  I considered the kitchen a place of experimentation and like Escoffier before me, regarded sauces as a key element of my repetoir.  A particular favourite was dijon, tomato ketchup and worcestershire sauce.  A real highlight was creating a concoction that I swore blindly to my mother I had seen my brother make and was delicious.  It consisted of using the magimix to blend some uncooked wurst, matzo and haimisha pickles together.  This dish was quite unique in just how vile it turned out.  To her credit, my mother let me make mistakes like this.  She also insisted I eat the lot and clear up.

So I made mistakes, but I learned from them and most importantly I learned from her and the confidence and knowledge I gained has stood me in very good stead.

I'm a sucker for journalists sucking their teeth as the country goes down the plug hole and if statistics are to be believed, in the UK we're watching more food TV programmes than ever, but cooking far less.  If that's the case then I think, there's no programme more important than CBeebies' I Can Cook.  Silverbrowlette is mildly obsessed with it.

It is possible this is because her 3am feeds were consumed in front of some rerun of 'Floyd on...' or one of Rick Stein's many outings.

It could also be because the programme is fun to watch and she's figured out that cooking is a lot like mucking about with paint or play-dough, but more tasty.

I've read some criticism of the show along the lines of the presenter being too annoying, the songs too catchy.  But this is kids TV afterall.  What stands out, are the long term benefits of the show.  The religious fervour of hand washing is helpful to ensure that we don't all have to end-up with snotty, dripping noses.  The trips to the well manicured gardens ensure that some kids at least will understad that potatoes start in the ground, rather than the crisp factory.

Recipes can be a bit odd, such as the pizza with grapes on it, but the olive rolls are actually quite tasty.  We are lucky, our daughter generally is not a fussy eater.  However, on those occasions when she does play up, the easiest way to get her to tuck in, is if she was involved in making it in the first place.

There was particular delight in our household when Mrs S realised that an I Can Cook cookbook has recently been published.  It was Silverbrowlette's best Chanukah present and ours if it prevents re-runs of my early disasters.

Undoubtedly, there will be some (inverted) snobs who will claim that a show recommending the use of polenta is disconnected from the real world.  That is no excuse for failing to introduce new ideas to children.  In my experience kids are only too happy to experiment and try new things if they get given the opportunity. 

I don't understand the smugness of parents who take such delight in claiming they never let their kids watch TV.  Some TV is very good, it's also part of our world and our kid's world.  In my entirely unprofessional opinion, you are only going to enhance your child's development by letting them spend 15 minutes watching an episode.  Failing that, can I recommend just spending some time with them cooking?  It's surprisingly good fun.

 

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I watch I Can Cook with Elliot, and even at 15 months he's pretty intrigued. I admit Katie drives me a bit nuts sometimes, but I really appreciate that there's a show with kids actually cooking proper food. It can only be a good thing for kids to see others their own age, of both genders, making food to it from scratch.


Erin I agree. Fundamentally it's a good programme. 

My children love the programme and have taken an interest in cooking. Even my 2 and 3 year olds are intrigued!

I wish there was something like this when I was a kid!

I'm 25 and only just about learning how to cook. I know I have to do it but don't know where to start!

Thanks Daniel, but if you're only starting too cook, what are you doing working for a corporate caterer!?

My daughter can also be won over to new foods if she's participated in the cooking of the food. Being typically vegetable averse at 4 years old, she stunned us by declaring a love for veg soup since they had made it at nursery school.

Our little one has got a taste for broccoli it seems.  Very odd indeed.

Pleased to hear our present went down so well!

It did, she loved it!

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