Sharing Through Cooking


Though I grew up far from my grandparents, I was adopted by an elderly neighbour when I was eight years old. I would go over to her house on the weekend and we would take walks in the nearby woods, looking for birds. She gave me a set of pastels so I could sit and draw. But mostly we cooked together. She started by teaching me to bake simple things like cookies and muffins. Then we moved on to pie crust and simple loaves of bread.

As the third child in a family of four children, it was hard to mark my place between two older brothers and an adorable younger sister. Baking became a way to distinguish myself. I made a lemon meringue pie for my parents’ anniversary. Cakes for birthdays. Cookies at Christmas.

My interest in cooking only grew, and I was subsequently adopted by several other women with a passion for cooking. I learned how to can peaches, salsa and pickles. The best way to pull dough around the filling of a homemade peirogi. How to chop cabbage for borscht. And toast spices for curry. All of these particular cooking skills were better learned in person than from a cookbook or a YouTube video.

Cooking is not just a process of following the steps in a recipe. It is an artform that involves intuition. And an understanding of how something should look, smell and feel. For an experienced cook, that sort of understanding is second nature. For a child, it is something that needs to be demonstrated.

Connecting with your grandchildren through cooking is a special way to teach them about themselves. Recipes are a part of your family history and heritage. So why not invite your grandchildren into the kitchen!

• Toddlers and preschoolers can help with measuring and stirring. They can also use a butter knife to slice soft foods like mushrooms.

• School-aged kids are ready to learn how to cook. They love undivided adult attention and learning new skills.

• Tweens and teens might be reluctant to get started, but they really enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with showing off new skills and talents. Try to find out what might interest them, then build on that. Don’t be surprised if their interests cause you to also learn some new cooking skills, like making sushi or frying donuts.