When it’s time to give mom a break, let the kids take a turn in the kitchen

That is it. I have officially decided that I spend too much time in the kitchen.

Not that I don’t love it – I do. But while my kids are playing outside or doing Legos or creating some glorious piece of artwork, I find myself in the kitchen nightly, working on an elaborate meal. I would much rather be a part of what they are doing.

Of course, if the activity is cooking, great, we can do it together. So, how does a diehard cook get out of the kitchen? And more importantly, what do I cook that does not require a hour’s worth of my time?

I recently happened to have the necessary ingredients to make a small batch of beef chili. To make matters even easier, Emma, 12, volunteered to spearhead the project. Lucky for me, she is my kind of cook. She does not require recipes and is game for just about anything.

I was a little worried that Molly, 10, and Clay, 8, would not go for a mush of meat, tomato and beans. But, because there is always a green salad at my table, I knew they would not starve if they did not eat the chili.

Emma diced the onion and sauteed it in some oil. The meat went in to cook with the onion, then she added the garlic and usual Tex-Mex spices such as cumin, oregano and red chili powder. Things were smelling good.

She added a can of pinto beans, a can of good, diced tomatoes, then a bit of beef broth. A little tomato paste thickened up the chili.

I had some leftover corn bread from another night, so we served that, too, but it did not do the chili justice.

Molly and Clay were both full of compliments to Emma. They really liked it.

I did, too, and am so proud of my girl for being so helpful, creative and independent. The beef chili was a huge success.

So, my desire to get out of the kitchen was just deferred to Emma, but I will continue on my quest for fast and easy meals.

Maybe Molly and Clay will take a weekly kitchen shift, and I will find myself with that much desired time to spend with my little ones.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

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