Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In the Kitchen: Knife Skills for Kids


In my first "In the Kitchen" post, I talked about the basic rules I taught my girls before letting them help in the kitchen. Today, I'm going to share a bit about knives. Yes, I know that one of the rules is not to touch sharp knives. We have a set of knives that I use all the time that are very, very sharp, so sharp that I've cut a chunk off the tip of my finger. These are not knives that kids should be touching. Nonetheless, I wanted to teach the girls how to properly use a knife.

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Before we've ever used a knife in the kitchen, the girls have practiced cutting with items from their play kitchen. We have this Melissa & Doug Cutting Food box. The girls have spent a lot of time playing with this set. (I would highly recommend this if you're looking for a gift for a preschool age kid.) We've also practiced our cutting with play dough. Roll a snake shape with your play dough and have our kids practice cutting. We use plastic knives from our kitchen set with this. This is the perfect time to show them how to hold a knife, the correct way to cut, and how to keep your fingers curled under so you won't cut yourself. You can relax knowing there won't be any injuries while using these toy knives.



Once I felt more comfortable, we moved on to the kitchen. I allow the girls to cut using the knives from our silverware set. They're sharp enough to cut soft food, but not sharp enough to cause much injury. These knives can still cause injury, so please exercise caution and provide proper supervision while your child is cutting. Have them hold on to the knife's handle with the hand that they normally write with. They can hold on to the food with the other hand. Teach them to tuck their fingers in, so instead of cutting a finger, the knife will just brush against their knuckles. Some of the foods I allow the girls to cut are avocados, bananas, and other soft fruits and vegetables. 



Now that the girls are able to use a knife, they're able to make one of their favorite snack foods, guacamole. Here's my recipe for a super-easy kid-friendly guacamole.

Kid-Friendly Guacamole
2-3 avocados
1 tsp salt
dash of hot sauce (to taste)

Peel and cut the avocados. Use a fork (or potato masher) to mash the avocados. We find it easier to put the avocados in a wide, shallow bowl for mashing. While mashing, add the salt to taste. We like salty guacamole, so use more or less salt according to your tastes. Once it's mashed, add your hot sauce. This can be omitted if you don't like spicy food.

Spread on tortillas, use chips to dip, or even raw veggies. It's a great, healthy snack!

Do you let your kids use knives in the kitchen?
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