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Around the Home: Head to the kitchen for fun with friends and family
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Looking for a fun activity to do with friends? Seeking a new adventure with your spouse or date? Want to spend some quality time with a child or grandchild?

Try cooking together!

Many people no longer cook because they’re too busy with other activities. Make time to cook by making cooking "the activity." To begin, there are two types of cooking situations.

Working with inexperienced cooks

Strategy A:

Strategy B:

Demonstrate how to do tasks before assigning them. Don’t assume anything.

True story number one: A woman was helping another person make cookies. As she read "drop dough on cookie sheet," she heard a loud "clunk!" The other person — following directions to the letter — had dropped the bowl of dough on the cookie sheet!

Another true story, different people: A recipe called for "egg whites." Looking at the egg, this new cook saw the egg shell as the "white" part of the egg. The cake was rather crunchy.

Strategy C:

Plan a menu with foods that can be prepared at different times. You’ll be able to focus more on helping the beginning cook. For example, include a food that can be in the oven baking while the other foods are prepared.

Working with experienced cooks

Strategy A:

Strategy B:

Prepare different recipes.

Here are some more tips to make your "cooking together" experience a success:

Be tolerant of how the finished foods look. One person might cut the strawberries in a yogurt strawberry parfait recipe into uniform slices. Another might just hack the berries into bits! Remember: they’ll taste the same either way.

Check the cupboards for ingredients and necessary cooking equipment before you begin cooking. Otherwise, you may need to abandon your recipes for reservations at the nearest restaurant.

Include a back-up food plan if cooking untested recipes at a party. Your main dish recipe may read better than it tastes. A pizza in the freezer could save the day.

Supplement "cooked together" foods with ready-to-eat foods. Trying to make everything from scratch can put you in a frantic rather than fun mood. Example: no rule says you have to make rolls or bread from scratch. Buy a product that complements your menu and enjoy.

Play some special music while you’re cooking and eating together. Example: if you’re experimenting with foods from a different country, listen to music from that country. This adds to the experience. Also, when people hear that music again, they’ll remember the good times they had while cooking.

Source: University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension

Debbie Wilburn is a county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.

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