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Monday, January 20, 2014

Chopped: The Entree Round

Ready to Start Round 2!
To be honest, we started this as a lark.  We thought we would have a little fun in the kitchen, avoid a little garage cleaning, and that would be it.

But this is getting serious!

Round 2 of our 'Chopped, Feav Family Edition' commenced today.  Our oldest and youngest were again competing, this time needing to prepare an entree.  The 'Mystery Basket Ingredients' were a pre-cooked, bone-in chicken breast, potatoes, onions, and Ritz crackers.

It was fascinating to watch.

As the competition began to unfold, I spent a lot more time in the background than I did the first round, quietly observing.  What I saw really encouraged and challenged me.

In the 'Appetizer' round, both my daughter, who is 17, and my son, who is 7, seemed tentative and unsure of themselves.  They took a bit of time to get going and formulate their plan of attack.

This time, it was markedly different.  Both were visibly more comfortable.  They very quickly decided what they were going to do and set about realizing their artistic visions without delay.  Working swiftly and with obvious purpose, they were clearly thinking about all the elements necessary in the Food Network version: creativity, taste and plating.

Now, the reason this was all so interesting to me was not because of the culinary wizardry going on, though I confess that did impress me a little bit.  It was more that this artificial 'competition' was bringing out skills and confidence I didn't realize were there.

I've always cooked with my kids. . .from the time they could hold a spoon.  I love the time spent with them chopping and stirring and creating magnificent feasts.  We laugh over our cutting boards, and cry, and sort out the greatest of problems.  It's precious family time to me.

I've tried to teach practical skills and recipes and the nuances of flavors and presentation.  But always before, there was a strong sense that I was 'head cook,' and my beautiful children my pupils.

Until this little experiment, that is.  What a joy it has been to see them step out from underneath my shadow and come into their own.  It's been a bittersweet realization, though.  I know it's my job to instruct and teach and guide my children.  I know that my greatest success will come if I send them into the world fully equipped to face it.

But with every single skill mastered, there's a little bit of sadness as another 'check' is placed in the 'completed' column.  I have a way to go still with my youngest, but my oldest. . .well. . .what's left to teach seems so very small.

So I was a little melancholy this 'round.'  Very proud, but also a little wistful that these moments with all of my beautiful children here under my roof are winding down.

But I am trying not to get too weepy. . .after all, I suppose there's still the dessert round.

Ritz and Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Herbed Potatoes

Chicken Stew with Spiced Ritz Croutons with PomegranateSpritzer

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