sunday dinners and kids who cook

October 5, 2016 |  Category:   cooking family parenting


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mark’s been cooking with the girls for years. As soon as they took an interest and was old enough to stir a bowl of batter or de-stem a sprig of herbs, they’ve been sitting on barstools at the kitchen counter watching and learning how to cook. It’s nerve-racking the first time you let your child handle a knife on their own, but it is a culinary milestone when it happens.

When I was regularly broadcasting live video on Periscope this past year, we’d sometimes do these “cooking with kids” videos where the girls would assist Mark on a cooking show style broadcast. I only reference this because it wasn’t long ago that the kids were still doing simple kitchen tasks like stirring the batter and assembling toppings for pizza.

But one day this summer, the girls started cooking entirely on their own, unassisted, and it did feel like it literally happened overnight. It started with pancakes. One morning I woke up to a mess in the kitchen and a stack of pancakes piled on a plate. The pancakes were fluffy with the right amount of crisp around the edges – well worth the pile of dirty bowls in the sink and batter spills on the counter. They then moved onto scones, and can I say that their scones were amazingly good? They even made their own buttermilk when they realized that the recipe called for it, but there was none in the fridge. Then Miss C started baking muffins. I remember snapping a photo of the muffins still in the pan and sending them to Mark because the tops of her muffins rose so high and round, something that Mark’s muffins don’t normally do. One of her baking experiments were honey muffins. Her utter confusion over where the spoonful of honey that she dropped in the middle of the batter went as she ate through her muffin reminded me that she was still only 9 (she was expecting it to be oozing in the middle, like a jelly donut).

One Sunday, Mia decided that she was going to make dinner. I should have written down the dish because I can’t recall what she made, but I also didn’t know that this was going to be a weekly occurrence. Soups, stir-fries, pasta dishes and baked ziti are some of the dinners that she’s made over the past few months. This past Sunday it was this mushroom barley soup, which was hearty, thick and rich with flavor. She started developing the skills last year of combining and mixing flavors by making salad dressing, something Mark said he did when he was a kid as well. It shows in her cooking because her food is thoughtfully seasoned. We thought that Sunday dinners would just be a summer thing, as it partially grew out of boredom and cooking was something that was fun for her to do, but she’s insisted that she would continue even with school starting. So we have a ritual now: she’ll look through cookbooks Sunday morning and start a list. We’ll then go to the grocery store and the farmer’s market to shop for ingredients. At 5pm, she starts to cook so that dinner’s ready by the time Mark walks in the door from working Sunday markets.

Sometimes I forget how young the girls were when I started this blog. They were babies and toddlers. I see a lot of babies on my Instagram feed these days and think to myself that I can vaguely remember those times…but it’s fuzzy at best. I’ve been so past the baby stage for so long that I almost can’t relate anymore. We’ve definitely moved on to more complex challenges of parenting beyond napping woes (subjective and all relative, of course). I never dreamed that I’d have this blog long enough that I’d be posting photos of food made by the girls.




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  • Caddy October 5, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I didn’t realize how long I’ve been reading your blog until you mentioned how your girls were just toddlers when it started and I remember reading those entries. Your blog is still one of my favorites that I keep coming back to. It’s so cool that your children are into cooking. Being in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother and also later on exploring recipes on my own are some of my fondest memories from growing up. πŸ™‚

    • Jenna October 5, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Yes, they were so small then. It’s hard to believe how fast these years passed. Thank you so much for continuing to check in, Caddy.

  • Michelle Raum October 5, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Would love their recipes! Especially for the soup-

    • Jenna October 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Michelle, she usually just googles the dish she wants and my guess is that she chooses the first link that comes up in google πŸ™‚

  • Linda October 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Okay any chance I’ll see your girls on masterchef junior?! Hehe. That’s awesome that they love to cook. πŸ™‚

    • Jenna October 6, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Ha! They do love watching their cooking shows.

  • Emmeline October 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I don’t think I have been a reader since your girls were toddlers, but I have been a reader for several years. I continue to enjoy your blog, and this post is a special one! thanks for sharing. My daughter is 7 months, and just beginning to taste different food. I am looking forward to cooking with her!

    • Jenna October 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Thanks Emmeline. I love that age where babies are trying new tastes and food. It’s so much fun. Enjoy those moments.

  • Micaela October 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    This is so heartwarming, Jenna. I, too, have been reading your blog for years & years, and it’s so inspiring to know that your girls have grown into chefs in their own right. I wish I cooked more than I do currently, and I think I am going to start the same Sunday morning tradition of poring over my cookbooks (and my favorite food blogs) and then going shopping for ingredients. This seems like a great routine and a good way to baby-step into cooking more at home.

    Please let your daughters know that their food looks delicious and that they’re inspiring a 32-year-old … it’s taken me way too long to get into the habit of cooking for myself and my loved ones!

    • Jenna October 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Hi Micaela, If you’re a longtime reader, then you no I really don’t do the cooking at home. I actually started doing Sunday dinners when my tech job ended, but then Mia wanted to take over. As soon as my schedule calms down, I’d like to resume some cooking, but on a different night. Sunday nights are hers now!

  • Rachel October 5, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Long-time regular reader who rarely comments but can I say how heartwarming this post is? I have a one- and a four-year old and this post gives me hope that we will one day say farewell to sleepless nights and highchair food explosions to finally reach the stage you describe!

    I am so, so glad you still take the time to write here. Mushy brain from the current season means I’m going to be hopelessly inarticulate but you have a beautiful way of expressing your heart in your words and photos.

    • Jenna October 6, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hi Rachel, thanks for this lovely comment. Yes, I still do like to write here! And I can’t believe that I’m nearing 10 years on the blog.

  • Jen October 6, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Jenna, any chance you have the recipe for those honey muffins? They look amazing! I did some quick googling and couldn’t find a recipe that calls for dropping a spoonful of honey into the batter for each muffin. Did Miss C just modify a basic honey muffin recipe by adding the honey that way verses stirring it into the batter? Many thanks from a hungry reader who would love a honey muffin right about now, but will have to settle for a boring mug of warm milk instead πŸ™

    • Jenna October 6, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Hi Jen! I’m pretty sure that she got the recipe from the Betty Crocker picture cookbook. It’s this old funny, vintage cookbook that we have. But I do believe that she thought to put the drop of honey in the middle of the batter herself πŸ™‚

  • unha October 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    wow. so amazing! tell them to throw a dinner party, and i’m coming!

  • Ronnie October 8, 2016 at 5:09 am

    Um, amazing. That is all…
    Ronnie xo

  • yj October 9, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Love this! I started cooking for the family in high school. One of my earliest memories is at age 6/7/8 (not sure which), peeling and grating potatoes so that my parents would make me hash browns. Then, I think it started with baking – my mom would let me make cheesecake bars for when the guests came over (lots of directions, exact measurements). By middle school I learned to make certain foods so that I wouldn’t have to wait for my parents to come home and make dinner. I’m pretty sure we ate spaghetti with red meat sauce and chicken curry at least once a week.

    • Jenna October 11, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      Love hearing your cooking stories from when you were a child. Thank you for sharing!

  • Lakshmi October 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    How awesome is this post… Yay, Mia and Claudine! Cooking is a life skill that everyone should be familiar with.

  • nole October 14, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I first started reading your blog when C was about two years old.Β It’s so exciting to hear that they’ve started cooking on their own! I grew up cooking dinner with my dad – well, sort of, since he only made 4 or 5 things and one of them was heating up a can of lentil soup – and I have such fond memories from being in the kitchen with my dad. I look forward to that experience with my own girls someday!

    • Jenna October 15, 2016 at 11:12 am

      I was just trading comments with a few people on Instagram about how it’ll be coming on a decade when a lot of us first met in the early days of Etsy and blogging. It kind of blows my mind!

  • Lulu October 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I have to show my 13 year old how to cook rice 5 times, then I gave up. The girls are all grown up! Maybe you can feature some of their dishes?

    • Jenna October 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Lulu, the photos on this post are their dishes! πŸ™‚

  • sarah November 3, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Aww this is so beautiful Jenna! Thanks for sharing your life with us. I cant believe how big your girls are! Time flies!!!

  • Isahrai November 16, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    My five year old just mastered cracking an egg and she harvests herbs from the garden. You are right… her successes always win over the big messes. Thank you for sharing… it is such an encouragement to me.