A new series featuring KIDS will be bringing the delicious everyday recipes you expect from the Fountain Avenue Kitchen, while embracing a mission that is so very important. And you can be a part of it!
When I was bored as I girl…
I often rummaged through the cabinets to find something to cook or bake. Playdates with friends sometimes involved brownie or cookie baking, and I vividly remember the afternoon my friend Pia and I decided to taste all the herbs and spices in her mom’s spice cabinet.
It was going so well until we tasted the green food coloring…and spilled it. As we attempted to clean it up, we seemed to only spread it throughout their white kitchen.
We didn’t have phones, iPads, and various social media platforms as our default entertainment back then, so we had to create our own fun. In recent years, the news has been rife with stories detailing the woes of kids and social media.
Many of us have witnessed too many kids coming up on the short end of these all-consuming platforms. Good kids get bullied and sometimes get caught up in the bullying. They share and seek out questionable content. The behavior surrounding our devices and social media use has become normalized, and the line between acceptable and unacceptable content probably appears rather blurry to many kids.
All of this got me thinking.
As I spent time cooking with my nieces and shared easy recipe inspiration with my college age boys (who were finally needing to do some meal prep of their own!), I was reminded of how kitchen projects have, in so many households, become a forgotten source of pleasure, and often sustenance.
We lead busy lives, and cooking can feel like an unwanted chore at the end of a hectic day. Why go to the trouble when innumerable heat-and-eat, drive-through, and fast casual options are within easy reach?
Yet when my nieces and I cook together, we talk, we laugh, we sometimes complain (venting can be helpful!)—and end up with a nourishing reward for our effort. They have occasionally taken dinner home to their parents, so proud of the contribution they were making.
Their parents often work late, and their effort creates a valuable opportunity for their family to gather around the dinner table. As my kids grew older, I savored those family dinners because it was so often the only time we had to truly catch up.
So what am I doing?
Not willing to accept that cooking is a dying art form, I decided that I should use my little platform to reverse the tide. I do realize it’s a big ocean and I’m just one person, but the drops add up. And maybe, one child at a time, we could create a groundswell.
Start small. Local. An idea was forming.
What if I started cooking with more kids and invited those who were interested to be a part of my cooking videos? I’ve long been focused on family-friendly, easy meals, but what if I doubled-down and really listened to what the kids wanted to cook?
Would it fuel a sustained interest? Would they begin to develop a new hobby, a life skill? Over time, that skill teaches us important things about caring for and nourishing our bodies. Perhaps a newfound hobby would offer meaningful, if only temporary, distraction from social media. Maybe, over time, they’d seek out and post more constructive content when on social media–like pictures of the recipes they are cooking or sources for new ideas.
I began reaching out to friends, teachers, and local organizations that serve kids. Karen Schloer, the director of the Lancaster Boys & Girls Club, made a comment that stuck with me: “It’s so hard to encourage our kids to live outside of their devices.”
She, and everyone else I spoke with, rallied around the idea. In the months since, my kitchen has hosted kids from all walks of life. Most every time, the kids have asked when they could come back before our first session was over. When given the opportunity, they truly enjoyed creating something in the kitchen.
To do all this, I had to obtain my FBI and child abuse clearances, take an on-line course, and get fingerprinted. As a funny aside, I was told that my fingerprints have worn off. Apparently, I’ve held too many hot pots over the years!
All of this to say, I am ready to launch the first of our kids cooking videos! Next Wednesday, September 21, is the big day, so stay tuned. The plan is to continue to share the kids recipes and videos twice a month.
The kids in theses videos are a fabulously diverse bunch–boys and girls, black, brown, and white, introverted and extroverted, finding their way. Some have experienced challenges bigger than their years suggest.
Talking and cooking on camera was new to them. They were excited to do it, but sometimes it made them nervous. Yet they did it, each in their own special way. The videos reflect their unique qualities, and I hope you will cheer them on.
I learned something from every single one of them, and I am incredibly proud of all of them. Even better, they are proud of themselves.
Here’s where I could use your help:
Please watch these videos, share them, cook the recipes, and comment! In other words, support these terrific kids and the work they have done.
Know a potential sponsor? There’s a cost to producing these videos, and my resources will only sustain the project for so long. So, I’ve begun looking for sponsors. Not only can a sponsor help fund the project (I have some meaningful ways to recognize the sponsors and will gladly provide details), they can also help spread the word.
Don’t have a connection to a sponsor but would still like to help? Consider sponsoring a video in honor of an organization that is near and dear to your heart. We will give them a shout-out in the video!
Know someone who would like to cook? I’d love to broaden our circle with an ever-growing base of kids from diverse backgrounds. We work from my kitchen, so access to Lancaster is important. Tweens and teenagers are the current target, although as time goes, I’d be thrilled to have some “big kids” in the kitchen–perhaps someone who represents a non-profit that works with kids or is otherwise making a difference in our communities. Or maybe a grandparent who loves to cook with his or her grandchildren and has a recipe that is begging to be shared!
Are you a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle? Cook the recipes with the children in your lives. Take a photo (I don’t care if it’s not beautiful!) and share it on your social media. Tag the Fountain Avenue Kitchen and I will re-share it. Encourage the kids to do the same. That way, their friends will see it and perhaps food and kitchen fun will replace some of the other content they have been soaking in.
So stay tuned, and stay in touch. I value my loyal reader and always welcome your questions, feedback, and support!
Special thanks go to Josh Carrigan, who has been the videographer for this project. He is aces at his craft, and he connects so well with the kids. When I mentioned that Joey, for example, likes to play the keyboard, Josh brought his keyboard to the shoot and spent some time teaching Joey some very cool tricks. Stayed tuned for that!
For now, I’ll leave you with a few more photos of these fabulous kids…