One of my parental goals has been to teach my kids the basics of cooking and inspiring creativity with textures and flavors. I decided I needed to pay particular attention to this in my own children after counseling many 20 and 30 year-olds. What most impressed me was that so few knew how to cook beyond opening a package and adding water. When we would talk about basic nutrition and eating healthy, most confessed they had never really cooked a meal using whole foods.
I can’t imagine the boredom if I didn’t know how to cook and had to rely on either quick, convenient, purchased meals or someone else always cooking for me. The sense of freedom to be able to walk into a kitchen and pull together something tasty and healthy is very satisfying.
Granted, working with preteens, much less your own, is not easy by any means. It takes time, patience and dedication. I started working with our daughter a few years ago and only recently with our ten-year old son. But I hope my children, when they are on their own, will feel comfortable enough in a kitchen and have a few meals they can prepare for themselves that include more than tearing open a box or a bag.
Helping to inspire creative cooking these days are the many cooking shows on television. The food always looks beautiful. There is usually a celebratory feeling and the show’s stars always look like they are having so much fun. Recently, after returning from two full weekends of swim meets, I noticed our television recorder was loaded with cooking shows our daughter had preset to record. Since we limit television viewing, I came up with what I thought was a great idea. For every one hour of viewing, she would plan and cook a meal. Of course I’m there to help, but the meals are hers.
Well, she rose to the challenge yesterday. She pulled together some recipe ideas and came up with the following. It was simply delicious and fun to make. Yes, I am admittedly always impressed by her accomplishments, but all of us, including her much less easily impressed two brothers, thought it was very good. Even our 6-year-old loved this meal. The best part for me is, it answered one of my greatest cooking challenges – cooking fish.
I particularly liked the meal because it is easy and healthy. Just add some brown rice and you have a two-dish meal that tastes wonderful, includes good quality protein, vegetables and whole grain.
White Fish with Vegetables
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. white fish – in 3 or 4 thin fillets
Zest and juice of one lemon
Lemon, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine
½ tsp. kosher salt flakes
2-3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
2-3 yellow squash, sliced
1 lb. snap peas
Stir wine, olive oil and lemon juice in bowl. Add vegetables and toss gently. In small bowl. mix lemon zest and salt. Take a piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold one fillet and some vegetables. Fold the sides of foil so juice mixture doesn’t run over. Place vegetables in the middle of the foil and place one fillet gently on top of the vegetables. Put zest and salt mixture on fish. Top with dill and lemon slices. Wrap foil around each fillet so it is closed on all sides. Do this for each fillet. Place foil wraps on a cookie tray. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-35 minutes. depending on thickness of fish. Serve with fresh dill, lemon wedges and brown rice.
Our daughter has announced the next time she makes this recipe she’s going to try a different vegetable combination with different herbs. I’m all for it!