Ma’am recently posted this picture of Michael and me from 1975, I’d have been 7 and he was 3. Yes, we always loved to cook!
Seeing that picture reminded me of the recent flak created by a 13 year old girl that is protesting the fact that Easy Bake Oven is only available in pink or purple and she fears her 4 year old brother will not want to play with it with his friends because of the colors.
My initial reaction was “you go, girl!” I applaud her for sticking up for her little brother and for seeing an issue and trying to address it instead of just whining. Note to toy manufacturers: stop making everything in stereotypical gender colors. Are girls more likely to want an Easy Bake Oven because it is pink or purple? Would they not want one if it looked more realistic. No. Make it gender neutral and you don’t disenfranchise boys. It is not a political statement, just good marketing.
My next thought was, so what if it IS pink. Why are we socializing kids to think colors equal gender? If a boy likes pink, so what. If he likes to cook and the oven is pink, so what.
Chef Tess, a blogger I really respect, asked on her Facebook page if boys should be encouraged to cook. Oh please! Are we really still having this debate? All kids should learn how to cook. Period. Gender is irrelevant. It is a basic life skill everyone should have. If a child enjoys cooking (or playing football or knitting or rock climbing) a smart parent should find a way to help them participate at their own level in a safe way regardless of gender. By the way, I knew Chef Tess had two boys and assumed they helped cook – with her as a mom how could they not? So, I know she was just throwing that out there for discussion and not actually stating a view she doesn’t have.
And my final thought was, why waste money on a toy oven? Get the kid in the kitchen and let him use real stuff. My brother and I were in the kitchen from an early age. I don’t remember having an Easy Bake, but Ma’am can correct me if I am misremembering. I think she just had us use real tools in the kitchen to make real food.
My son has been helping in the kitchen since he was 5 days old. Ok, technically he sat on the counter in his car seat and screamed at me while I tried to cook. Maybe he was saying I want to help, but it was probably FEED ME NOW!!! He definitely demands to help now. I dared to start making some biscuits once while he was playing in the other room. He ran into the kitchen, pulled the bowl off of the counter and put it on the floor and told me in no uncertain terms “HELP COOK”.
Ma’am got him a Christmas spatula and bowl and gave him some measuring cups and spoons she was no longer using. She may no longer use them but he sure wants to! In the week or so we have had them I think they’ve been used every day. For the most part kids don’t need special equipment except for mixers. The young set (like mine) aren’t ready to use the electric one. But we found a great tool to use in its place: OXO Good Grips Egg Beater. This one has a nice easy to hold handle which is far better than the old fashioned one that was in the box of dishes and cooking equipment my grandparents had in their closet for us to play with when we came over(I guarantee my cousin and brother will both think “I remember that” when they read that). It isn’t good for thick batters (like cookies), but it works perfectly for beating eggs, pancakes, cakes etc.
Ma’am and I have both written about how to cook with children and we have a whole page of recipes to get you started (scroll to the bottom for links to our advice). It’ll take much longer to do anything with the kids helping at first, but eventually they will be cooking their own Hamburger Helper before going to swim practice like my little brother.
Until next time, happy eating.
Just thought of another color thing. Crayolas use to have a color called "flesh" which thanks to a lot of protests was eventurally changed to "peach".