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I remember years ago, when I first discovered my love for cooking. Up until that point I was somehow “afraid” of the kitchen: Afraid of being judged by my inability to produce masterful dishes; Afraid of being categorized as the brainy girl with no desire for practical things. But as luck would have it, I ran across a good cookbook (or two, or three…) and it showed me that cooking is an experience, one that starts way before we enter the kitchen. The culinary journey starts in our minds, imagining what we are in the mood for eating or drinking, and then, it continues while we shop, selecting those ingredients. The end result is us settling at home, or with friends, while we cook with our family and enjoy the company of our loved ones.
As a therapist, I often get asked what activities to use to promote the transfer of skills from one activity during therapy to everyday activities at home. Cooking with your family and including your child every step of the way is one activity that I recommend very often. There is simply so much to learn during the process of getting together to prepare a meal! Jordan Zucker’s new book, One Dish Four Seasons, supplies us with the elements we need to make this engaging, social-emotional activity as enjoyable as possible.
There is no replacement for such an opportunity to share a bonding experience, while being able to engage with your child at a cognitive, social-emotional, and gross/fine motor level, labeling objects such as food items, cookware, utensils, following directions, as in following the recipe step by step, and having the patience to see it through. Furthermore, One Dish Four Seasons is color coded so that each recipe honors a particular time of the year. Jordan Zucker takes one dish and prepares it four ways, so that each variation is thought out and seasonal. This provides a unique way to teach children about what grows during what times (i.e. why we eat pumpkins in the Fall, for example), and the importance of seasons.
Jordan Zucker’s recipes are both extraordinary and simple. The pictures are incredibly yummy and an opportunity for children to see the dish they are preparing ahead of time, the finished product. For me, the pictures are just mouth-watering. Ms. Zucker, who grew up in a very creative family that also placed a great deal of importance on family and food, makes it even more interesting by adding the wine pairings for every recipe and the record you should be playing while cooking! For me, these are two very important points: I tend to sip wine and listen to music when I cook!
If you asked Ms. Zucker what she is likely to do on a Friday night, she will say that Friday nights are just the same as any other night. You might just find her cooking! And like me, there is one book she cannot do without: Siddartha by Herman Hesse. Definitely a classic!