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Old 02-23-2014, 08:48 PM   #1
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ISO help/tips on cooking with a teenager

I have a 16 yr old daughter who has been "acting out" to put it mildly :) Anyway she has started showing an interest in cooking. I am hoping this can be something I can direct her wondering mind on. Does any body have any tips or ideas on how to teach a teenager to cook with out "hopefully" boring them to death. Fun recipes and such. I would LOVE any help I can get. Please and thank you.

“I went into a restaurant. The menu said, ‘Breakfast anytime.’ So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” Steven Wright
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:18 PM   #2
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I'd start your daughter learning to make something she likes to eat or something she can successfully share with friends.

A homemade dip, even have her search Ranch dip ingreds made from scratch instead of a package.
How to uniformly slice veggies for dip, make celery curls in ice water.
Make herbed baked pita chips instead of packaged corn chips.


As I recall, when Jr first wanted to learn some cooking skills, he disliked handling raw meat. If that is an issue, make sloppy joes, you can open a package without touching the ground beef. If this is not an issue, there's lots of things you can do with Chicken.

Favorite family pasta dish. Pasta is usually pretty forgiving, and she can check how the pasta cooks to al dente stage. Go ahead. Toss a noodle on the ceiling. when it sticks, it's done.

Have her be in charge of one course for dinner, a salad or main or dessert.

Patience and allow yourself to quit what you are doing when she's in the mood to learn. In school, all her time is structured. It's harder for a teenager to see this at home, even though it is. Meal planning, shopping, cooking. All to do to get ready and have on the table at dinner time. May not be seen as a structured sequence and seems more automatic for you, and needs to build upon itself for your daughter.

Um. try to have all cell phones off so there is less distraction.
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:36 PM   #3
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When I was in high school, my best friend and I made many batches of Toll House chocolate chip cookies together, no (close) adult supervision. We learned together and followed the recipe. Maybe show her some recipes for her favorite foods, and let her figure them out, perhaps with a friend. Stay in the background, ready to help if asked. Community colleges often have free or cheap cooking classes, again, maybe your daughter and a friend can find some things they might like to try to make. Does her school have a cooking class? I've found with teens that they're often eager to make at home what they learned in class. We also used to like to make the old pizza kits (Chef Boyardee?) that came with the crust mix and sauce. While not the tastiest, they allowed for experimentation and were very easy to put together and add ingredients.

My major cooking influences came from my grandmother and great aunt. Does she have an adult who she enjoys being around? Sometimes Mom is not always the person a kid wants to be around at her age.

Maybe she could be in charge of making a meal of her choice, including shopping for the ingredients, prep work, etc. It could be as simple as salads and rice crispie bars.
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:13 AM   #4
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I agree with all of the above.

How about exploring some food choices that are new to you both. Unusual vegetables or a theme night with foods from a country you are curious about. Trying something new will put you both on an even footing.

I agree with letting go of meal planning for a night each week and allowing your daughter to shop, plan, cook a meal of her choice on a predetermined budget.

Including one of her friends can also be a good idea, it amazes me how different young folks act and respond when they are with another member of the species.

Work together on a small project to bake some cookies, a casserole, bread etc... Double the recipe and share with a friend, family member or neighbor. It will help her to learn about more than cooking and it will generate an outside unbiased opinion that is sure to boost her self esteem.

Relax and have fun, if the food turns out lousy keep a jar of peanut butter handy or a pizza coupon and laugh it off, it will become a nice memory for you both in years to come!
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:08 AM   #5
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Incorporate music into the cooking process. Teens love music. Let her pick something to listen to each time you two cook together. Dance around as you cook.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:19 AM   #6
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Whenever my sisters kids (aged 11, 14, 15) come for a visit, I always do a "make your own pizza night". I make the dough ahead of time, and let them slap out the dough and choose the toppings. Making a mess is always part of it..someone usually ends up with flour in their hair...hell...you can always clean it up...and it's lots of fun.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:49 AM   #7
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These are great ideas. Thanks everybody. We are gonna have do it yourself pizza Friday. I'm also gonna get a cookbook with recipes from around the world to try out. Thanks all! :)
“I went into a restaurant. The menu said, ‘Breakfast anytime.’ So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” Steven Wright
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:18 PM   #8
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I'm late to the party, but I'll add that your attitude about the kitchen will be important. If you're mellow about any mess, she will relax and have more fun. My kitchen tends to be the "gathering place" for the teens in our life as I'm not a neatnik. My rule is, "You make the mess, you clean it up (but if you don't whine, or ditch I'll help!)"

Tortilla or pita pizzas are fun too. You could suggest a movie night with friends for her and help her plan all kinds of nibblies and fun stuff.

Good luck and here's hoping you guys have a blast together.
You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:38 PM   #9
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When my daughter started getting interested in cooking, my first reaction was to try and spend time with her in the kitchen and show her things. Turns out that didn't work out so well. It wasn't that she wanted me to show her how to cook, but rather that she wanted to cook on her own, without me hovering over her.

So I let her do what she wanted in the kitchen, with my only three rules being 1.) she couldn't be in the kitchen if I needed it (unless she wanted to help me), 2.) anytime she wanted to use something she wasn't familiar with, she had to let me know so I could give her quick instruction, and 3.) she must to clean up after herself. If she left a bunch of dirty dishes for her mom or I to clean up, she was grounded from the kitchen for a while. Also, .

I also encouraged her to ask questions anytime, and I would only offer as much help as she wanted.

It worked out well. She's now in her early 20s and lives with two roommates in a house just off campus. I wouldn't say she is "chefy", but she enjoys cooking and does a decent job of it.

EDIT: I see Dawg offered some of the same suggestions. Sorry for stating the same thing twice, but I agree with her.
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