One of the jobs that Boy has assumed this summer is starting the charcoal fire. It's not always easy acknowledging that the babies are growing up, but they are, and it's good to get some work out of them while we can. While starting the fire one night this week, he decided what he really wanted was Chinese, specifically teriyaki chicken. "So find a recipe and make it" I answered.
He did. He searched the net for a good recipe, and found one for fried rice, too. He also wanted spring rolls, and had a hard time finding one that had ingredients we could find in our very limited Asian foods isle, so I helped. (Which means I looked at a few recipes, and figured out enough to be able to wing it. That's a good skill to learn, too.)
Last night we made rice with dinner so we'd have leftovers for today. He put together the marinade for the chicken this afternoon, as "all-by-himself" as he could for the first time doing things like mincing ginger and chopping scallions. This evening, he assembled the spring rolls (cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger sauteed and mixed with soy sauce and corn starch), including rolling them after I showed him how to do one. He cooked the rice as I deep fried the rolls (he's still afraid of a vat of oil, and I guess one should know one's limits when learning their way around the kitchen). He also convinced me to put the chicken on their sticks, and I cooked those on the fire he'd started before. "Let me get these plated before we take the pictures..." (I swear, I don't make this stuff up.)
It was delicious. Even more satisfying, though, was just how proud he was. He thought of the meal, figured out what we needed, prepped and cooked most of it. He also knows that he's got to learn to get over his dislike of raw meat and to get comfortable with the different heat sources. But he did get a better understanding of how to use his knife differently for different tasks, and how to follow a recipe and adapt it to your own likes and abilities. I don't think he's ready to take over full time kitchen duties, but he's not that far away. By the time he leaves home, I have no doubt that he'll be a great cook who can keep all those around him full and happy. Who knows? Maybe this will be the meal that he looks back on and says "It all started because I wanted some Chicken on a Stick..."
I'm proud of you, Boy. You figured it out and you did it. Sometimes that's all cooking really is-- knowing what you want and then figuring out how to get there. Fresh ingredients help, but confidence is also required. You can't be a good cook if you don't believe you are one. And you can practice on us anytime you want.
***It should also be noted that he normally picks around certain veggies, including peppers and onions, both of which were in the rice. It would seem that when you cut them yourself, you're more likely to give them a try, as Girly still tried to eat around hers. She's a few years away, though, so I guess I'll just wait and see.