Cook in Training

Olivia is quite comfortable in the kitchen. She can make a mean cinnamon toast and a delectable cream cheese sandwich. She also has whipped up her fair share of easy bake oven dessert creations. But at nearly 9 years old, we figured she’s ready for real cooking, none of this easy bake oven crap.

So onto we went and she picked out a kids cookbook. It’s an around the world cookbook, with each chapter devoted to a different region. It arrived yesterday, and today she made her first dinner. You’d think she’d start out simple, cheese quesadillas maybe, or even good ‘ol spaghetti with jarred pasta sauce. Nope. She picked out shrimp pad thai.

Yeah, the kid in the picture looks happy, but I knew I’d be lucky to get this meal on the table without any tears.

First up was shelling and deveining the shrimp, which she did with the help of a sous chef.

Next, she soaked the rice noodles.

Then came mixing up the sauce.

Now, here’s where things got interesting. Olivia started pouring the soy sauce.

And she didn’t stop until she reached the 1/2 cup mark. I was still working on deveining the shrimp, and her dad was concentrating on the pictures.

It was only when she started measuring out the fish sauce that he noticed how much was going into the cup. Needless to say, she misread the instructions. It could have been worse. Much worse. Imagine if we didn’t notice until we took the first bite. So we started over with the  sauce, but this time there was a little more parental oversight.

Once all the ingredients had been carefully measured and added to the bowl, Olivia was ready to start chopping.

She may have been ready, but I wasn’t. Every time she got ready to make a cut, I kept yelling, “watch your fingers!”

I finally stopped sweating and yelling once she put down the knife.

But next up was actually cooking, using a hot as hell wok. I started sweating again, and not from the hot wok. Did I want her to get anywhere near it? Hell no! Did I? You betcha.

I’ve got to give Olivia credit. She may have been nervous about cooking, but she didn’t show it, and didn’t get upset when she had to redo the sauce.

But redoing the sauce meant a finished product that brought her a big smile.

Meal Masterpiece

Smiles are one thing, but the proof is in the taste.

If you ask her sisters, they really liked it, Erin probably more than Carrie. The nearly 4-year old was mugging more for the camera than actually eating.

The adults liked it all right, but there was a problem that had nothing to do with the cook. We topped ours with some chopped peanuts, which unfortunately expired in February of 2010! Oops. Rancid peanuts will never make a meal tasty, no matter how good the cook.

Olivia didn’t seem troubled by the bad nuts, and she’s already talking about the next meal she wants to make: English scones. Luckily it doesn’t have nuts.

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