While in the shower yesterday I came up with the idea that my oldest should make dinner. I called to her, and asked if she would like to try her first attempt at cooking, and she eagerly consented.

At 16, my oldest little girl doesn’t know how to do a whole lot yet. This is mostly my fault – I am the type of mom who just wants to get it done and am far too impatient to take the time to “show” my inexperienced daughters how to do something. Or, I show them and they promptly forget and retire to the comfort of their bed.

An example of this is laundry. I’ve shown my oldest how the washing machine and dryer operate, how much soap to add, what dials to twist and buttons to press, but I still manage to do all the laundry. Another is the dishwasher. She knows how to offload it – she actually knows where stuff goes better than my husband (who offloads the dishwasher at least 4 times a week and still manages to misplace half of my utensils and cookware). However she refuses to load the dishwasher. She is totally skeeved out by the thought of touching wet, grimy, dirty dishes. I figure she’ll learn that lesson the hard way if she ever gets her own place.

I feel guilty that she is so utterly helpless that she can’t even manage to make a cup of tea for herself. So, it’s high time she learned some basic cooking skills. As a working mom I have no time to be teaching her on a weeknight – I barely have time to get dinner on the table by 7:00 pm and I know what I’m doing. If I had to nurse a novice through a basic recipe we’d be eating with Letterman. But a weekend? The perfect time to teach her to cook.

I asked her to pick a simple recipe. Something that did not involve stir frying (high heat), or meat being stuffed (toothpicks? Not yet). She selected a simple Tarragon Chicken and twice baked potatoes. I went out and purchased the ingredients and by 4pm we were ready to start. We were trying to watch DVRed tv show while cooking, but she soon became so engrossed in what she was doing that we wound up just turning off the television all together.

She gingerly chopped, sliced, seasoned and sauteed. She used the hand mixer, my good knife, the oven and a frying pan. Granted, I gave a lot of supervision, and lots of prompts like “Now is a good time to turn the chicken.” I told her how it’s a good idea to slip a pat or two of butter into the sauce right before you serve it, and sliced the chicken for her. I was worried that such a simple recipe was going to be sort of dull.

Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms and Twice Baked Potatoes

Boy, was I wrong. It was really good. I mean, yummy, flavorful, super delish good. I was pleased that her first meal came off so well, and I hope that it has awakened a love of cooking for her. Perhaps we can make it a weekend ritual that she try to cook at least one new thing, whether it be a vegetable or a dessert or the main course.

It also made me realize that I need to crack open a cookbook every now and then. Who would’ve thought that a recipe involving 5 ingredients could pack so much flavor? I never did fancy myself a great cook…hubby complained more than he praises in the early years and between that and various cooking disasters, I have labeled myself a mediocre chef at best.

However, I will pass on what little I know to my girls and hope they turn out just a little bit better than me.