When you are the parents of young children, there are so many lessons you have to teach: don’t touch that, look both ways when crossing the road, and love conquers all. When you are the parents of older kids, the lessons are similar: stay away from bad people, life can be dangerous, be kind to all. When you are the parents of young adults, launched and on their own way, a moment of reflection occurs about the other values you have passed on.
In addition to all the lessons that parents teach their children about being a good person, each family also has a unique passion they’d like to share with their children. It could be sports, art, travel or music. In our case, it’s cooking.
None of our three daughters expressed much interest in the cooking while they lived with us. Melissa and Julie would occasionally bake cookies, but I don’t remember Jess ever attempting any kind of culinary creativity. With that in mind, it surprised me that all three of our girls began cooking in earnest as soon as they left the nest.
Both Jessica and Melissa used to call me frequently from the grocery store asking what ingredients they needed to make a childhood favorite dish. I’d tell them the ingredients and type up a recipe so that it would be waiting in their inbox when they arrived home. The two most memorable meals that Jess cooked for us in those early days were a fabulous Asian style tuna steak and eggplant parmesan.
Melissa also became a great cook while she lived in Charleston, South Carolina. Her recipe for southwest chicken and tortilla soup is now a family favorite. It’s pretty fun when you can learn new recipes from your children.
The boys are pretty handy in the kitchen as well. I taught our son-in-law Gary how to make homemade mac and cheese, and on his own he has turned a classic recipe into a way to experiment with his favorite flavors like buffalo chicken mac and cheese.
Thommy and his girlfriend Katie have always enjoyed cooking. It isn’t unusual to find them whipping up a batch of pancakes or an inventive pasta meal with whatever they find in the fridge or pantry. While Thommy was volunteering at an organic farm in Florida the past few months, he did kitchen duty several times, whipping up breakfast or dinner for the 15 people on the farm.
Julie began cooking all of her favorite meals and then some when she got her own apartment. She’s a big fan of Pinterest, and finds all kinds of recipes on that website, including a very tasty version of a chicken burrito casserole that is a new family favorite.
A few weeks ago Julie and I went grocery shopping together. We were both doing our own thing when I bumped into her in the dairy aisle of Shaw’s. She had her phone out, so I asked if she had a grocery list on her phone. She explained that she was looking up the ingredients for a recipe she wanted to try. When she showed me the photo of “One-Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls,” I immediately wanted to try the recipe too.
I went back through the aisles to gather the necessary ingredients and Julie emailed me the recipe. I changed several different things in the recipe, based on my own experience in the kitchen. You should always brown the chicken in small batches over medium high heat before adding any vegetables such as onions. Why use garlic powder when the real thing is at hand? Adding red bell peppers was a no-brainer because they go so well with Tex-Mex food.
The end result was so delicious, I couldn’t wait to make it for Thommy and Katie. In fact it was the first meal I made when he came home from Florida last Friday and I invited the whole crew over for dinner. In my experience, leftovers are rare with this meal, which is very easily doubled to feed a crowd.