Did you know that one of the best ways to occupy your kids is to make them help you cook something? I never knew that to be honest until my daughter started showing her interest in what I am doing when she was just one year old. While I was cooking moutabbal or tabbouleh, she would always want to be carried (don't ask how I did it- yes yes, I was cutting stuff with one hand) and look at what I was doing.
Now, when she turned 3, we are doing everything together. I noticed that each time she goes crazy at home, I managed to occupy her with making something. Do get ready for lots and lots of mess but it is so much fun. Help your kids to learn how to make basic stuff. Start with a dough. Which kids doesn't like to get dirty? Put all ingredients that you need in a big dish and lets your little one do the magic. You can't imagine how proud they are to eat what they made.
My daughter actually knows how to prepare her own manakish: it may not be perfect but it is gorgeous in our eyes. She presents it with such pride. Also she helped me to roll the dough for my honey cake when I was preparing one for my father-in-law's birthday.
Safe cooking suggestions for your kiddos:
1) Pizza making
4) Moutabbal ( they will just love mixing it)
5) Cupcake decoration
6) Tabbouleh mixing (let hem get dirty, it's okaaaaay Moooom)
So this is just a small tip for you moms: DO GET YOUR LITTLE ONES INVOLVED! Remember: destroying one kitchen is better than destroying the whole house:) At least you can see what trouble they are up to!
Just because I love kitchen it doesn't mean everyone does. Well.... Let me give it a shot to convince you to start or to attempt. Actually my hubby keeps repeating "Thaaaat's why I married you" with a naughty wink each time we have dinner. How about I give you some valid reasons?
Reason 1: Ability to cook is in Top 12 things men value in women more than their beauty!
Surprised? I am not. Men became pickier nowadays. Being beautiful is important and is amazing but in reality many men admitted (read many blogs on this topic)- beauty can be bought. You can become picture perfect in no time so it does look like we cannot surprise men anymore with perfect looks. I am sure your granny told you that the quickest way to men's heart is through his stomach. Men love women who cook. Period.
Reason 2: Ability to enjoy food.
Reminded me of my first date with hubby-to-be, when I decided not to pretend anymore that I am this classy chica only living off salads. I actually ordered 750 grams T-Bone steak with mashed potatoes, while he ordered 300 gr filet. I thought that for sure he will never call me again after seeing this blonde monster eating. Believe it or not- that was the thing that attracted him to me: ability to eat! Apparently men do love women who eat. Think about it: he invites you to head for some pizza after a tough day. You sit with the menu and start counting calories and nagging how fat it is instead of ordering a nice one and enjoying it discussing more important matters. In the eyes of a man you will simply sound like unconfident woman. Learn to enjoy your life and stop trying to impress-be yourself.
Reason 3: Cooking is beautiful
...however it all depends how you present yourself. Keep your mani picture perfect, some make up on, a hot apron:) see what I mean? Now your hubby comes home, the smell from the house of home cooked food is spreading for miles:) How amazing is it? Then he sees his stunning wife who isn't only able to spend on herself, but who can also care for the family's wellbeing. This is HOT! And men admit it!
Reason 4: Money saving
All of us enjoy restaurants, but they come at a high price. Which man wouldn't appreciate a woman, who isn't only spending, but who is saving? No matter how rich he is, it will be really appreciated. (I know- i know that you work, you ear, you are Ms Independent, but still..keep being that woman who is under her man's wing-trust me).
Reason 5: Healthy and one more time healthy
Let's be realistic: we don't know how and what they put in the food when you go out. Do they use the same oil to fry 10 times? Do they wash the meat? Did they wash those vegetables. I did read those scary statistics which made me become even more addicted to cooking. You are in complete control when you cook at home.
Reason 6: You are a mother or one day you will be a mother (InshAllah)
Kids do deserve to eat home cooked food. Full stop. Cans and pouches are great but I do not believe in anything that lasts for a year to be super healthy. My kids love home cooked food to a point where they refuse to eat at a restaurant unless the situation is drastic:) Why? Because you cook with love! Our little ones deserve the best. I do use sometimes organic pouches when we travel-they are great, but not on daily basis. Healthy eating habits start from home.
Reason 7: Improved relationship with your mother-in-law
Now imagine: your darling husband was living under mammas wing for years. She was cherishing him, always had his fresh food ready. Now you came into his life and took him away. Would she be worried? it is natural. But what if she knows that her son is fed just as well? What if she feels that you are a great couple for him because her son is very happy? Obviously it's not the only reason but still... those small things count (in some cases it is not a small thing). I love my mother-in-law to death - she is my second mom. We spent hours cooking together. Even before I was engaged, I loved to learn how she does things because I knew that this what would make my hubby happy.
Reason 8: It binds family together
We just love cooking together and include kids in it. During winter months in Dubai we have a blast preparing home made manakish: our daughter helps us to create the mess, throw flour all over the place (she is helping, c'mon)... It became our Friday morning ritual: from early morning we prepare traditional Lebanese breakfast and then enjoy it with a cup of tea. Kids have so much fun. It does bind a family! Those moments are just priceless.
Whether you like cooking or not, I strongly believe that these are valid reasons to reconsider the whole thing. Cooking is an art.. what if you like it? Just try...
or ... I don't WANT to know how to cook...This is the question. Have you ever seen anyone cooking from their crib days? Nobody was born a chef. It's a learnt skill.. Let's discuss some of the points.
1) "Vitalia! Your recipe didn't turn out as good".
- How did you prepare it love?
- Well, I didn't have beef, so I used lamb instead. I didn't have parsley, I used dill instead. But it doesn't matter, right?
Kill me now... where did you see tabbouleh made of dill? There is a reason recipe is written step by step. Ingredients which work with duck, will not necessarily work with chicken. Tell me it didn't work when you followed my pictures step by step and read carefully otherwise I will retire early from food blogging.
2) "I will ruin my nails!"
Gelish will help! I cook every day for 3-4 hours, and yet my nails are always perfect. When there is will there is a way, remember that.
3) " I am too tired after work"
It's all about planning. We all have bad days and I do sometimes end up working from morning till late night but such things are usually predictable (of course not always but somehow predictable). So cook something that your family can eat for 2 days: a stew, a nice soup.
4) "I don't know how to do grocery shopping".
That's why I attach pictures for you with 90% of the ingredients. Make a list.
5) "My mother-in-laws tells me I am a terrible cook"
Okay! I would personally take it as a challenge. When I married my darling husband, I actually stood next to my mother-in-law watching step by step what she was doing. Imagine your hubby was always under a wing of his mommy, always fed his favorite food and now he is taken away by you, princess. Isn't his momma worried? Oh Yeah! But what if she knows that he is fed at home just as good? Maybe even better (hope my mom-in-law doesn't read my blog)..just kidding. I honestly wanted to learn how to cook Lebanese food even better than some Lebanese do.. believe or not I do! And I am so proud of it..not to say how much my hubby is proud. We make sometimes tabbouleh competition! So much fun!
6) "My food always burns"
Lower the fire my love!
7) "I simply hate cooking!"
You have kids? Where do they eat from? Cans and pouches only? Sometimes those do come in handy when you travel etc but in general my kids eat only home cooked food. Why? Where did you see salmon being fresh for 6-8 months? So start cooking now. Your little ones will say thank you!
8) "Do you ever mess up your dishes"
If you only knew how many times I messed up my dishes, you will not come back to this blog. I did and I do. We all have bad days. Sometimes I cannot even get a simple chicken stock correctly. We are all humans. But does it mean you are a bad cook??? Of course not. It means you are a great cook who will try again tomorrow... (don't let me down on this one, ok?) . I live by one saying: "If life throws lemons at you-make a lemonade). So , I was planning for a tom yum koong but messed up my stock completely. Let's see what we have? FULL BOILED CHICKEN. Hummm... what can we make with one? Maybe some nice salad? Or maybe even a small stew in the pots? Or maybe I will leave this one for kids with mashed potatoes? See what I mean? Instead of saying "I am a failed cook", say "I am a smart cook who will learn one more dish right now"
Love you all!
Hello my glam Chefs....
Here I would like to start answering some of the questions about how, when, where...
Many times people asked: "How on Earth do you manage to cook after work with 2 little kids". I guess the answer is the following: I care about my family too much. Dubai makes it easy for you to order in, but I personally prefer to be in control of what my family eats. Each vegetable, each protein, each pack of eggs I select by myself.
How to manage?
Wake up in the morning, prepare your kids to go to school, head to work if you have one, if not-you have no excuses, sorry! My work doesn't require me sitting in the office for 8-9 hours. We fixed it in a way where I can do most of the stuff online or by a phone call. However, situations do arise, where I have to drive all over UAE visiting customers, inspecting stuff, visiting ports. I do have a 7 month old baby in hands, who comes...with...me...wherever...I...go. Call me a control freak, but this is the truth.
It's all about planning!
Decide what you want to cook a day before, try to shop all your ingredients and marinate food in advance (no to rush later). When you come home after work, put kids to sleep. I taught both of my kids to sleep not later than 7 so I have this extra hour to prepare the most delicious dinner and to spend time with my one and only....and of course to hear "ohh yummm" words.
When I do my work from home, I put my son in kangaroo carrier and cook. I guess he got used to it. Lately he became by taster haha:)) It's not as easy as it sounds as sometimes I have to operate wood fired oven. So sometimes he joins me, sometimes I do it while he takes his afternoon nap... it becomes like a race! When there is a will- there is a way!
Look, I will be very honest with you: life forces us to become busier and busier.. it's not easy. A good dinner for you and your husband is an amazing binder in my opinion: no mobile phones, just you two and food. It's a perfect time to share your news with one another, seek advices... Your loved ones will really appreciate your efforts.
Love to all....