REBECCA PENOVICH is a freelance pr professional who writes about food and entertaining at Corks & Cake (www.corksandcake.com). When she’s not in her vintage kitchen, she works with television and film clients (Chefs A’Field, National Geographic Entertainment) to match them with brands and promote their partnerships
There are plenty of modern resources out there for engaging your kids in the kitchen, but I thought it would be fun to take a look backward and see what 1968 had to say about the matter.
In The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook: How to Teach Your Child the Delights of Cooking and Eating, author Lois Levine writes about being a newlywed who had never boiled water. She says in her introduction: “I was helpless in the kitchen because I’d never been there before. I had grown up in a large household with excellent kitchen help, and I’d never even watched cooking being done.” She does recall, however, hearing her mother order her groceries over the phone.
Oh, how times have changed!
(Or maybe not, on second thought. I’m thinking of all the family kitchens in 2013 that go unused while the parent orders dinner over the phone.)
Ms. Levine was indeed a woman of her generation with all the preconceived notions of where a woman’s place was in society. “The reasons for a girl’s learning to cook are self-evident….She can’t do it, however, unless she has had some previous experience at her mother’s side. But boys can and should learn to cook too. Even if they never have to cook after they marry, knowing how will make them at least appreciative of their wives’ cooking.”
I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Levine would be astounded to know that in 2013, more dads than ever are stay-at-home, full-time caregivers and cooks!
To her credit, Lois Levine does show tremendous enthusiasm and aptitude for teaching kids to cook. And she gets it right when she says that learning to cook increases a preteen’s self esteem and makes them empowered to make supper for themselves and the family.
The vintage guide is well organized, with recipes divided into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels and includes a concise dictionary of culinary terms and techniques and guide to weights and measures.
Despite a whole chapter devoted to Gelatin and Puddings (hello mid-century potlucks and my Minnesota childhood), there were some recipes in here worth trying, I thought:
Heavenly Hamburg–a precursor to Hamburger Helper, this casserole with ground beef, tomato sauce, wide egg noodles and cream cheese sounded like something my family would like to eat on a busy Monday night.
Crabmeat Tetrazinni–sounded like something I would like to eat on a lazy Saturday night with my choice on Netflix.
Frozen Lemon Pie–I bookmarked this one to try next summer.
I ultimate went for family-friendly Colonial Corn Pie (which would have been more accurately titled Colonial Chicken Pie with Cornbread Crust.)
Colonial Corn Pie
- 1 16-ounce can of whole kernel corn, including liquid (I used 2 cups fresh cooked corn kernels, moistened with some chicken broth from the cooked breasts)
- 1 12-ounce package corn muffin mix
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup light cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
- 3 drops Tabasco
- 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- 4 cups chicken or turkey breast, cooked and sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Combine corn, corn muffin mix, egg yolks, light cream, pimento, parsley, onion salt, and Tabasco in large mixing bowl.
- Fold in the 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten.
- In bottom of buttered shallow casserole, place layer of chicken.
- Spoon batter over the chicken.
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
(NOTE: I divided the chicken pie into individual Staub casseroles, with 1 cup of chicken and 1/2 cup of batter in each.)
While I found the result underwhelming my husband said: “I’d definitely eat it again if there were more spice and it was less dry.” Resounding praise, indeed.
The corn bread topping was delicious. I wondered if it would be as good without separating the 2 eggs and folding in the beaten whites. I suppose you could take a shortcut and just add the 2 whole eggs to the batter to save yourself a couple of steps and an additional bowl.
I think this recipe could be improved and brought into the modern kitchen: add some chopped green chiles, salt and pepper, and a light veloute sauce to the shredded chicken; add chopped shallots and maybe a handful of sauteed carrots and mushrooms, too. If you are serving in individual casseroles as I did, I would also recommend only spooning only 1/4 cup of batter over the the 1 cup of chicken. (My 1/2: 1 cup ratio was too much corn bread topping.)
Either way, it would certainly make a good dish for a beginning cook (boy or girl!) to try!
Title: The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook: How to Teach Your Child the Delights of Cooking and Eating
Author: Lois Levine
Illustrations: Rosalie Petrash Schmidt
Published by The Macmillan Company, New York, 1968