One of the most important meals for kids to learn is breakfast. It's not about them; it's about you. The earlier you teach this one, the sooner you get to sleep a little later.
Just this morning, I woke up to the smell of sizzling pancetta, butter, and eggs. Although it smelled delightful, I knew that meal wasn't for me, and that's what made it great. It smelled like 15 more minutes of sleep and the joy of having raised a competent teenager. I savored my last moments in bed, knowing the boys were feeding themselves a legitimate breakfast. Eggs are an excellent, cheap protein, and learning to cook them in a variety of ways is key.
Scrambled eggs are a great start, but some kids need more guidance than others. (This isn't "Master Chef Junior," so I'm not naming names, but there's some definite skill variation in my sample size of three.)
We started with the pan.
I began with an explanation of frying pan surfaces. Spoiler alert: I think stainless steel is best for new cooks for two reasons: You can get really rough when you clean it, and it forces you to watch your cooking temperature and learn how to do it right, whereas non-stick surfaces give you more room to fail. Also, any random discarded pan from my house, perfect for stocking a new kitchen, will be lined with stainless steel.
I learned early that a little extra butter or oil in the pan makes it much easier for new cooks. And teenagers, with all their running around and growing, can handle a little extra fat. (This statement is not endorsed by any established medical organization or provider. It's just my mostly uninformed opinion.)
What My Kids Need to Know About Eggs
These are the things I'm teaching my kids to do with eggs.
- Scrambled. The easiest, and they can always toss in a few extras, like leftover vegetables, cheese, or a few spare pieces of pancetta or bacon. The most important advice I gave here was not to worry the egg too much, just a little scrambling here and there.
- Fried. We have a gas stove. The boys will probably start with electric, but they'll be cooking at home for a while, so I've always taught them to melt the butter or bacon grease at a higher setting, then turn it to a lower setting as soon as they put the egg in the pan. Flipping an egg takes practice, so they'll probably go sunny-side up for a while. Lucky for them, even a badly flipped egg tastes good.
- Hard-boiled. This is an essential skill, because egg salad is an easy, cheap meal, and deviled eggs are positively charming.
- Deviled. You know, this one might not matter outside of the southern United States, but people everywhere love it. I went to college in Canada. This one time, at around midnight, I found out one of my friends had never had a deviled egg. I made deviled eggs, and everyone was impressed. They're easy and delicious. Also? In France they call it "oeufs durs mayonnaise," so it must be fancy. Bonus: If you mess up deviled eggs, smash them in a bowl and call them egg salad.
- Soft-boiled. Because we love them, and this is such a comforting breakfast.
- Egg in a hole. They've known how to make this one since they were tall enough to use the stove, because it's delicious and easy. A family favorite.
- Omelet. The biggest tips here were to use enough oil, lift the sides of the omelet, let the uncooked egg flow to the bottom of the pan, and add the cheese as soon as the bottom is cooked (so it'll melt).
- In a quiche. Real men do eat quiche, because it's delicious, and I want our sons to know how to make this easy, filling, nutritious meal. Besides, they'll always know what to contribute to a potluck brunch.
I'll save poached eggs for later, or they can figure it out themselves, like I did, before the Internet was there to help. Did I miss anything? What else do I need to teach them to do with eggs?
10 Kitchen Lessons for My Teenage Kid
I've decided to be a little more methodical about teaching my sons to cook. So this week and next I'm counting down the ten essentials I think my 14-year-old absolutely has to master before he flies the nest.