Delilah Learns to Cook

December 27, 2021, Hailey Cain

Do you ever have something you really want to buy, but deep down, you know you don’t really need it, so you can never bring yourself to actually get it. That’s me all the time with a lot of things. Recently, I was obsessed with getting Delilah a learning tower step stool, the kind with the boxed-in upper railing, so she could safely stand with me at counter height. I knew we didn’t really need it, but I thought it would make things easier when I’m in the kitchen. I could never bring myself to feel good about buying it, but a few months ago, the stars must have aligned or something because it went on sale at the same time I had an Amazon gift card, so I was able to get one for Delilah.

This has been one of my favorite purchases for her! The minute Joshua finished putting it together and showed it to her, it was like she knew it was something built just for her. She climbed right on in and quickly learned how to climb out with very little help, and she’s loved it ever since. So much so that she tells me she wants to stand in it by shouting “tower ” at me. Since we got it, my stress level has gone down some in the kitchen. We still have our days, but she’s so much happier being able to stand next to me while I cook. I’m also feeling really good about being able to start teaching her some beginning steps of cooking more easily and safely. It’s fun to start teaching her some of the first things I learned to do in the kitchen.  I feel like having her right there at the counter is so much more hands-on for her, whether she’s helping or just watching me. It’s incredible to me how much she knows how to do in the kitchen already. It makes me feel so good to see that she’s happy and excited to help me cook the same way I was cooking with my mom and Grandma.

Here are some of the skills Delilah is learning:

Cracking Eggs: Cracking eggs is one of Delilah’s favorite ways to help in the kitchen. So much so that she’ll get mad at me if I do it without her (which sometimes I do when I just need one egg for a recipe). It was also one of the first things I taught her how to do. It’s surprising to me, but she can be pretty gentle with things when she wants to. She watched me cracking them on the counter, and so when she started reaching for the eggs, I decided to let her give it a go. She did really well at imitating what she had seen me do, and then I taught her to listen when she heard the sound of the shell cracking to know it was ready. Once cracked, she hands the egg back to me to crack it into the bowl. Don’t get me wrong, in practice, our method doesn’t go quite as perfect as it sounds, and we have some messes to clean up. However, she loves doing it, and the coordination she’s learning is worth the mess.

Mixing and Pouring: It wasn’t intentional, but a lot of her lessons in the kitchen have come from making scrambled eggs. After she cracks the eggs, she helps me mix them up. She also helps with mixing when we do any baking. I try to hold the bowl for her, to keep it steady, but half the time, she shoos my hand away so she can do it all by herself. Also, when we’re baking, she helps pour dry ingredients into the bowl for me after I measure them. Sometimes they accidentally go flying across the counter, and we have to remeasure, but practice makes perfect, and I’ve never been able to cook without making a mess anyway. In the near future, I plan to start having her help me more with pouring liquids when we’re baking. But for now, I’m still a little afraid of that mess so that she can practice with cups during bath time.

Seasoning Her Food: Once I saw how much Delilah was taking off in the kitchen, I used it as a reason to go out and buy the cutest little salt and pepper dishes so I could teach her the basics of seasoning her food. Once again, when we’re making eggs after she cracks and mixes them, I get her little dishes off the shelf so she can season them. I had to learn the hard way not to leave them on the counter when I found her sprinkling salt everywhere. She doesn’t say salt yet, but she still gets a few pinches and puts it in the bowl. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to hear her say pepper, partly because I think it’s just the cutest, but also because she can recognize pepper and both ground black pepper and bell peppers. She also loves when she gets to use other seasonings like herbs because she gets to “shake-shake” them.

Chopping Up Produce: Deep down, one of the reasons I hesitated so much on buying her learning tower was probably because I knew how many other things I’d want to buy to go with it. I am working on creating handmade matching aprons for Delilah and me. I also ordered special handled, toddler-safe choppers so Delilah can help prepare her own fruits and veggies too. While it’s designed to be toddler safe, it still has a metal edge, so she gets a lot of supervision with this one. The chopper is a little advanced for her, so we have her try and chop things as she wants to get a feel for it, and then I finish cutting it up later, like if we need something diced for a recipe.

Clean Up: Finally, after all our cooking, we put a towel down and move her learning tower over to the sink, where she helps Joshua or I do the dishes. By help, I mean she fills up cups and little bowls with water and pours them out into the sink, but I still think it’s good that she is involved with and excited about the whole process. When she sees one of us standing out of the sink, she’ll start pointing and saying “clean” to let us know she wants to help. Sometimes she’ll take her little scrub brush and try to help wash things, but it’s also nice having her there because I can get more done in one go with her happily beside me.