I’m announcing a fun, new family game, but first I want to tell you a story, so settle yourself down for a second.
Once upon a time, there was a young Yale student who had been given one of the best educations available in the western world. As he was about to head off to live on his own, this strapping young athlete stood chatting with his mother in the family kitchen. He turned to her and, pointing to the can of tunafish in his hand, said, “So how long do I need to cook this before it’s done?” This is a true story, and a worrying one. I hear stories like this all the time: last week the mother of a college-age daughter relayed that her daughter had called to ask how to turn the pancake batter in the fridge into pancakes. Another well-educated young woman thought that mashed potatoes came from a box.
We are raising an amazing generation of young people. They can find anything on the Internet, compete in triathalons, design websites, create apps, compose sophisticated dance music, speak multiple languages, start non-profits, ace their ACT’s and build houses in Haiti. What many of them haven’t yet learned is how to perform one of the tasks most essential to human survival — make themselves a meal that will nourish their body, mind and spirit.
People who cook their own food are living healthier, happier lives. Earlier this year, food journalist Michael Pollan told The New York Times, “We need public health ad campaigns promoting home cooking as the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and well-being.”
The problem is that learning to cook, like learning your multiplication tables, learning to play lacrosse or learning to swim, takes coaching, practice and patience. It can also make a big mess. But it is worth it! It is time to bring the children into the kitchen.
To that end, Good Food Naturally is sponsoring the first annual
Summer Family Cooking Games
Here are the ground rules:
- Goal: To give younger members of the family a chance to cook in the kitchen.
- How to Play: Each child picks a favorite main course or savory side dish that they would like to cook for the family during the month of August. Parents provide guidelines, groceries and assistance as needed. Teams are allowed (i.e two siblings or cousins can work together to create a meal).
- Special Instructions: No mixes or pre-fabricated food allowed. Cookies/brownies are not allowed, although cakes (from scratch) are. Burgers are allowed, but not may not be purchased pre-formed. Getting your hands dirty is key. Getting the kitchen dirty without cleaning up afterwards earns negative points. Points are awarded as follows:
- 100 points for a full meal (e.g., an entree, a side dish and a salad);
- 25 points for contributing a savory side dish;
- 25 points for a fruit-based dessert (no sugar added);
- 10 points for a sandwich (or 25 points if the bread is made by the contestant);
- 5 points for a cake (from scratch).
- You may earn bonus points as follows:
- 50 for vegetarian entrees; 50 for a dish you also helped grow or catch;
- 25 for a multi-ingredient salad, so long as the dressing is homemade;
- 25 for including whole grains in a dish;
- 25 points each for a local or seasonal dish.
- To enter, post photos of the finished meals/side dishes, with a description, on the wall of the Good Food Naturally Facebook page along with the age of the young cook, or write a description of the meal or dish in the comments section of this post along with the age of the young cook. Brief reviews of the meal from fellow family members may accompany each entry. Parents should add a brief comment on the cleanup process — if this is missing, 50 points will be deducted.
- Entries will also be judged on points, creativity, how tasty and healthy the meal sounds and the level of effort/age involved.
- The winning meal will win a free Good Food Naturally cooking lesson (location permitting) or a free cookbook, whichever is preferred.
- The Summer Family Coooking Games close at the end of August.
So, put away the computer and start cooking!