Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

Or Maybe Culinary Arts?

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Last night was another night of laziness.  Actually, it’s been almost a week of being lazy.  My knee has been swollen and acting up.  My ankle hasn’t been much better.  Then there’s my elbow, which tends to scream at me since I broke it nearly seven years back now.  On top of that, my back has been aching too.  I don’t know what’s going on here, but it seems everyone with joint problems or any kind of arthritis has been in rough shape since last.  We actually moved family day from the doughnut shop to the house last night because I couldn’t make the walk.  Corde and Oz went to pick up what everyone wanted and we ate in the living room.  I’d hoped that this would be over soon.  I’ve never had this last more than a day or two.  Still, it’s lingering on, so I’ve been trying to do as little as possible that may cause aggravation to the joints.  It’s meant I’ve been really lazy about doing things with the kids.

Instead of getting down about the whole thing I’ve been trying to make the best of it.  The kids have been out with their friends almost every day, which is good.  They should probably get that time in before the homework load gets heavier and the weather isn’t as good for going out.  I know they’ll still be running crazy around the neighborhood even when it’s cold, but there will hopefully be plenty of rainy days, and maybe even some snow.  We definitely could use the water.

It all started yesterday with the kids helping me play Plants vs. Zombies.  I should really stop wondering why Beekee has a thing for zombies, I guess.  I’m starting to notice it’s obvious.  It all started out with me playing it because it’s a puzzle game.  I’ve watched Oz play it a good deal and figured it looked pretty easy.  I was right.  I got a bit sucked in, mostly due to the kids’ encouragement.  Corde, Beekee, and Sander would call out the plants they thought I should use.  Sander generally just said whatever the older two did.  Then Corde and Beekee would call out reminders to help me complete each level.  It was a lot of fun, and it meant I could be free to hold Luca, since he was a little fuss butt all day yesterday.  I have no idea why he was so cranky.

But playing video games, while fun, isn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing all day.  When we decided it was time for a change we put on Netflix to watch something.  There was, as always, a huge discussion on what we were should be watching.  Corde wanted to watch a movie.  Sander wanted to watch a cartoon.  Beekee didn’t care, as long as it had super heroes or zombies.  I wasn’t much interested in any of that, so I decided to throw out some suggestions.  Though it rarely happens in our house, it only took one suggestion, and I wasn’t even trying.

While scrolling through our Netflix cue, Corde stopped me saying, “That’s the show where the guy ambushes people in supermarkets and cooks for them, right?”  She was talking about Take Home Chef.  While Curtis doesn’t exactly ambush people, he does catch a lot of them off guard.  Corde saw a few episodes with me back when we used to have cable and loved it, so this is what she wanted to watch again.  All the kids agreed.  Corde wanted to watch it because she’s started to have an interest in cooking.  Beekee wanted to watch it because he thinks it’s cool that he comes up with all his ideas on the fly.  He can’t plan for any of it before he meets the person, which means he’s got to think quick.  Sander loves it because, “It’s food!  Num, num food…”

So, there we all were, aside from Oz who was tired and decided to sleep, sitting in front of the television, zoning out on Take Home Chef…  Wait…no…that’s wrong.  We weren’t zoning out.  Let me revise that.  So there we all were, drooling over the food in Take Home Chef, and Corde says, “He’s an awesome cook.  I want to meet him some day.  Do you think we’d have to be on the show to meet him?  Do you think he’d come all the way out to Texas, or would we have to go to California to do it?”  We started talking about television shows, incredibly good chefs, and all of that.  Then, out of nowhere she said, “I want to learn to cook like that.  We have to get our oven fixed so I can do it.”

Looking at his dishes I can definitely see why she said that.  While our meals tend to be just thrown together on plates or serving dishes with no care taken in presentation, he plates up everything so beautifully.  It’s definitely an art.  Some of the food is so pretty I wouldn’t even want to touch it.  He takes so much time and care with his presentations, but at the same time it’s nothing at all.  Beekee said, “He cuts things up like a crazy person!  He’s crazy fast!”  Beekee was right.  He flies through each of the things he does because it’s such habit, yet it still looks fantastic.

Then came the big shocker for Corde.  She saw Curtis just toss some ingredients in together without even measuring.  Suddenly she gasped, “What?  He doesn’t measure anything?”

To this I replied, “He’s been doing it for a really long time.  It’s kind of intuitive for him.  He knows by sight about how much of each ingredient to add, like I do with milk and butter in mac and cheese and mashed potatoes.”

I guess this is the first time she’d realized I’d done that, even though she’s helped me make them both dozens of times because she had to question it, “But doesn’t that make it taste different every time?  What happens if he doesn’t put in enough of one thing, or too much of another?”

“That’s when we get to my favorite part of cooking,” I answered.  “The great thing about cooking is being able to taste everything as you make it, that way you know what it’s supposed to take right, and if you get good, you can recognize what’s missing just by taste or smell before it’s too late to fix it.”

Her eyes lit up at this idea.  She always thought it was like science where you have to be “so perfect with everything” and you won’t know how it turns out until it’s done.  I guess she’s never paid much attention to me cooking at all because I always taste my food as it’s cooking.  I’ll grab a tiny ball of dough to test it out, or I’ll spoon out a little something to taste.  I picked that up from watching my grandfather cook.  I remember my mom saying he never eats with the family because he eats while he’s cooking.  Then again, I also found out when I was older that he rarely ate with the family because he wanted to make sure there was enough food to go around because he’d rather go hungry than see his family hungry.  I guess when it became a habit it stuck for life.

Now she’s feeling conflicted.  She loves art in all forms, but now she thinks she might like to study culinary arts.  She loves all the beautiful things you can do with food to make “art you can eat”.  It doesn’t have the same permanence as other forms of art, but it’s less clutter to take up space.  There is something to say about making art that disappears the way food does.  There’s only so much space to hang and put art projects.  Eventually they need to be cycled out to make room for new stuff, but food?  Food gets eaten, and if you want to mark the presentation of it as something to remember, take a picture and let it take up digital space.  With all the picture storage places online, like Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa, there are plenty of ways to keep records without filling up your hard drive too, which is wonderful.

I’m trying to stay neutral on this.  I honestly think there’s much more of a future in culinary arts than there is in becoming another kind of artist, but she’ll become what she wants to be.  If she wants it bad enough, she’ll find a way to carve out a future for herself.  Who knows?  Maybe she’ll end up being a tattoo artist some day.  That would also be cool.  With all the options available I don’t want to pressure her, but if for now she has an interest in the practical art of cooking (even if she wants to learn to dress it up with all kinds of fancy presentation), I’m all for it.  Even if she decides a career in culinary isn’t her thing in the future, at least she’ll know how to cook some good meals, which is more than I had when I got out on my own.  She’ll never have to think the only place to get a really good meal is from someone else’s kitchen!

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Author: Fox

With four kids in the house, who has time for much? Well, we're trying to make it work, trying to get as close to our unschooling roots as we can while state restrictions and family pressures try to stand in our way. Every day is a new adventure.

2 thoughts on “Or Maybe Culinary Arts?

  1. Oh what a wonderful opportunity you have. This fits so perfectly with your unschooling lifestyle. You all still have to eat, and meals have to be prepared. You can include her in on budgeting, purchasing, how to choose the best meat and produce for your money. Like you said, who cares if she doesn’t become a chef, she’ll have some wonderful life skills.

    I would love to see how she plates up everyone’s dinner. That would be my favorite part of the whole experience. I bet she could do wonders with meatloaf, mac & cheese, and green beans.

    • She and Oz should have some real fun with this. I’m going to have to find the charger for my camera so I can take pictures. Oz does all sorts of cool things when plating up meals. He made my strawberry shortcake into dinosaurs for the kids one time. It was pretty awesome. I think the two of them are going to have a lot of fun in the kitchen.

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