Article of the week: Connecting in the kitchen
4 July 2020
Charles White shares ideas on how to bond with family and God through preparing and eating meals together
AFTER his resurrection one of the first things Jesus said to his disciples was: ‘Come and have breakfast’ (John 21:12). It was a way to reconnect with them after they were parted. Preparing and sharing meals was also a central part of early Church services, a way the Church stayed connected.
Anthropologists Margaret Mead and Colin Turnbull believed the one thing that signals that a person is a functioning part of a tribe or group is their assistance in meal preparation. Being a contributor is the bedrock of staying connected, of being a part of a family.
Finding that sense of belonging in today’s world isn’t always that simple. However, the coronavirus lockdown has created a unique opportunity for many parents to spend time with their children that they might not normally have. Cooking or baking together can be a good way to use this time and a fresh means of connecting as a family.
Regularly preparing a meal together is one of the best ways to stay connected to Christ and to each other.
A parent’s secret weapon with very young children, between three and five years old, is the banana. Before peeling, mark the banana using a felt-tip pen, so even the youngest child can slice it with a sturdy plastic knife or a child safety knife. Once the banana slices are peeled they can become a variety of desserts by adding tinned fruit, yoghurt and chocolate chips, chunky peanut butter with just enough milk to make it ‘juicy’ or mayonnaise mixed with chopped nuts.
Something as simple as bananas mixed with a teaspoon of jam can be a treat for children. Even the youngest child can contribute to the process and receive special one-on-one time with their mum or dad.
Children can get involved in slicing cheese, oranges, cucumbers, apples and potatoes. A child who can slice and pour can help prepare anything. There isn’t a better way to ensure a child gets daily parental attention combined with a sense of being a contributor and of belonging, which help lay a foundation for a positive self-image.
Children aged nine and older could make their own recipe book. A parent can give their child a notebook and allow them to paste in a recipe after they have made a meal twice. They can be rewarded with a gift or a special privilege for each recipe they add – as long as the entire family helps prepare the meal.
Looking for easy recipes can be a part of the evening’s entertainment, with prizes presented to those who find a good recipe online or in a magazine. A stir-fry with rice is a meal almost any child can cook and casseroles are dependable favourites.
Older children could learn to cook a ‘romantic’ meal, something to make for or with a prospective sweetheart. By the time a child is in their teens they may well have about 20 recipes in their book.
The kitchen is also a great place for prayer, learning Bible verses and bonding with God. Parents could put a special Bible verse on the wall or get a flip-over calendar with a verse a day. Another idea is to fill a bowl with Bible verses for each family member or guest to take away and tuck into their pocket – suitable Bible verses are available to download for free from bibleparent.com.
Before eating together one family member could read a verse out loud and pray for God to help everyone understand it. You can’t understand Scripture without prayer and you can’t pray rightly without Scripture.
Whatever you do, make your kitchen a special place for connecting with each other, and eating together a time for prayer and Scripture.
CHARLES WHITE IS A RETIRED CHRISTIAN NURSERY TEACHER IN AMERICA AND WEB EDITOR OF BIBLEPARENT.COM