National Men Make Dinner Day

National Men Make Dinner Day – All Year

National Men Make Dinner Day

Peter Reynolds, host of “Father Knows Food” and two of his children, Colt and Dabny.

November 5, 2015 was National Men Make Dinner Day, an attempt to get men who never cook to tie on an apron and get   in that kitchen! Here at the E.A.T. (Everyone Around the Table) blog, we think many days of the year should be Men Make Dinner Day. We also think asking a man who doesn’t ordinarily cook to do so on a weeknight doesn’t make much sense. So we’re going to encourage all men to extend the holiday and do some cooking this weekend (and then, hopefully, many other nights after that.)

Cooking is a very manly thing when you think about it. In the anthropological sense, it’s about being a hunter at its modern finest (and we wanted an excuse to say “anthropological”). You hunt for the ingredients and the pots, pans and cooking utensils you need, aka, your weapons. You bravely take on the task of preparation and, applying fire (or hot electricity), cook up that tasty mastodon for dinner! See? So. Manly.

Man shouldn’t have to brave the frontiers of the kitchen alone so we consulted with one of our favorite men in the kitchen, Peter Reynolds of Father Knows Food, a Colorado dad with his own cooking show on PBS. Peter, a very manly man and a wonderful cook (we’ve tried several of his recipes), suggested we show you two of his YouTube videos. In the first, you’ll see his recipe for grilled lamb chops. In the second, there’s a Strawberry Mess dessert that can be made all year ’round thanks to frozen strawberries. But also check out his website and other videos for loads of great recipes (we’re partial to his shrimp and grits recipe which is fool-proof!). Man, oh man, will you be cooking up a storm, any night of the week and any day of the year!

Just sit down and eat

Tot Talk Placemats

www.tottalk.com

It’s a lot to ask of a small child (or my older children) to sit at the dinner table for the duration of an entire meal. They have to listen to the older folks blah, blah, blah. They have to endure smelling the Brussels sprouts. And there are so many other things they’d rather be doing. It’s almost painful to have to sit there. Yet sit at the table, they must. It’s important. It’s good manners and it’s what will lead to improved grades, better health and less risk of becoming drug addicts, for heaven’s sake!

I have witnessed firsthand how a simple thing like a placemat can get kids to come to and stay at the table. A company called Tot Talk has created colorful placemats with topics like geography, natural habitats, math, kids games, sports, regional music and more, many with words shown in multiple languages. The back side is in black and white to encourage drawing with dry erase markers (just not during meal time, of course). The Tot Talk mission is to, “broaden the understanding and knowledge of today’s youth through multiple languages, new places, different cultures and everyday subjects.”

The basic idea, of course, is to give kids something to look at, do and talk about while they are at the table. I gave a couple of the placemats to my sister-in-law who has had some issues getting her four-year-old son to join the family and remain at the table. The boy was enthralled. He came, he ate, he stayed longer than necessary.

I did wonder if the distraction of it all would make a child forget about their food, or worse yet, lift up their plate to better see their placemat, thereby dumping said food all over the table. I’m sure it happens sometimes. But that’s the risk we take to share in the bounty of our meals with our beloved children.

Tot Talk placemats retail for $7.

Tasty teachings

Kitchen On The Green cooking classes

Expo Recreation Center

10955 E. Exposition Ave.,  Aurora

303-326-8630

Auroragov.org/recreation

Sad but true: kids are more open to learning something if it’s not coming from their parents. If a “stranger” presents them the same activity or information that you’ve been trying to teach them, kids are all over it. They might even ask why you never taught them that before.

Cooking applies to this rule. While it should be a lovely thing to teach your child proper cooking techniques and create masterpieces together in the kitchen, kids will probably do it their way as soon as you turn your back, often resulting in sliced fingers and cakes as dense as hockey pucks.

That’s why I was so glad to hear about the cooking class program through the City of Aurora’s Kitchen On The Green. There are plenty of adult cooking classes around town but very, very few geared toward kids and even fewer that are really creative and affordable.

Kitchen On The Green offers classes for parent/child combos from age 3-12, as well as classes for kids and teens ages 6-16 sans parents. What makes these classes stand out to me is the creativity in the themes. Take for example a class running June 5 called “Pop Goes The Weasel,”  kids will create Cheesy Popovers, Pizza Poppers, and Jell-O Poppers. Get it? Pop? Ok. The “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” class on July 6 features ball-shaped food including Italian Meatball Sammies & Red Sauce, Swiss Meatballs with Buttered Noodles, Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Dipping Sauce and Chocolate Buckeyes.

Tweens and teens get some more advanced options in kitchen technique, such as Baking Boot Camp and Cake Decorating, along with a health-focused class, “Superfood Rainbow” in which they prepare colorful Rainbow Summer Rolls with Peanut sauce, Edamame, Hummus & Pita Chips, Yellow Curry Chicken Satay, Chilled Strawberry & Peach Soup and Blackberry Mousse & Honey Tuiles.

Most classes are one day for 2 – 3 hours and range from $24 to $32 with discounts for Aurora residents. Classes fill up fast so sign up quickly.

By the way, since it isn’t all about the kids all the time, there are also cooking classes for adults (age 15 and older) including couples classes and wine tastings (for ages 21 and older).

I think teaching kids to cook (or having them taught) is invaluable. Yes, there are the important math, science, sensory and health aspects that cooking teaches. But most of all, if they get good enough, they can cook for the family or at the very least, for themselves. Amen!