Of all the classes my children take during their learn-at-home experience, my favorite is home economics.
Like all the other kids in the region, they’ve switched to online learning while our region waits out the “stay at home” orders put in place by Gov. Mike DeWine. They seem to be keeping up with the book, or should I say screen-based, learning.
The real surprise has been at the end of the school day, leading into the dinner hour. Without much prompting, our 12-year-old and 11-year-old daughters have taken on preparing the nightly dinner.
You might not expect a seventh-grader and a sixth-grader to deliver delicious meals. I wasn’t too optimistic at first, since their previous experiences generally meant throwing some kind of fried frozen item into the air fryer. Let’s face it, you don’t learn much about someone’s cooking prowess from how well they crisp up french fries. It seemed like most of their time with food was spent watching episodes of MasterChef Junior.
They continue to surprise us with their culinary voyages around the globe. I have to admit, I’ve been impressed by my 12-year-old daughter, who takes the lead and calls her little sister her “sous chef.”
One day, they decided they wanted to eat some Chinese-style food, so they made their own chicken fried rice. We didn’t have any chicken fried rice, so they did the unimaginable: They opened up a book to find a recipe.
Lo and behold, we had the ingredients they needed to make that happen. They cooked the chicken well, sliced it up and cooked it with rice and vegetables. It was delicious.
They really surprised me on St. Patrick’s Day by making shepherd’s pie, one of my favorite dishes. They found this recipe online, via their friend and mine, Google. They mashed their own potatoes, then cooked it up with the meat and vegetables in a deep pan. The presentation truly amused me, as my 12-year-old took the pie part of it literally, cutting the pan into eight slices. I was incredibly impressed by this one, since I’ve never even attempted to make shepherd’s pie.
The desserts are even better. Our 11-year-old previously proved her baking chops, and she flexes that muscle nearly daily. We come home from work to some sort of baked delight, whether it’s cookies, brownies, cupcakes or pies.
And so it goes, night after night.
Not everything’s a success. Few things in life are. A valiant effort to make hash browns led to a smoky kitchen, since someone didn’t realize the importance of adding oil to the pan. It’s not really learning if you don’t give the smoke detector a workout, right?
They’re getting more and more creative each day. They recently added plantains to the shopping list, so they can make fried plantains.
Overall, I’ve been thrilled with how they’re doing in making these delightful dishes. I suspect my doctor won’t be so happy after these homemade surprises take a toll on my waistline.
Now that they’ve moved into the fourth quarter of their school year, I do hope this self-taught home economics class moves into the next phase: How to clean the kitchen.