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At holiday time, and year round, children love to participate in preparing big meals. It’s a wonderful time to teach your children about the traditional foods your family enjoys and pass-on special recipes. It is also a great time to teach your children about being safe in the kitchen and preparing food safely.

First and foremost, have everyone wash their hands with soap and water. If anyone is sick, it’s probably best that they don’t participate until they are well. Clear a clean area in the kitchen to check your recipes and get out the ingredients. Young children can learn a lot about math by measuring items or doubling recipes. I like having as much measured out before starting so it is easy to have everyone participate when it’s time to put ingredients together. If you have raw ingredients, like meat or eggs, keep them separate and be sure to have everyone who comes into contact with them wash their hands before handling any other foods. It’s also important to clean the counter where raw ingredients have been and to always use separate utensils. Finally, wash all produce well before using.

Safety first

Besides avoiding illness and contamination, there are lots of other hidden dangers in a busy kitchen. Here are some reminders:

• Keep all sharp knives and peelers away from small children

• Keep pot handles turned toward the wall and try to use the back burners if possible

• Make sure all hot liquids are out of reach

• Watch your surroundings before opening the oven

• Supervise older children who are using the oven or microwave

• Supervise children using small appliances like mixers and food processors

One of the best parts of cooking together is tasting our yummy creations. Avoid giving raw foods to children to taste and always use clean utensils to continue cooking after you’ve had a nibble. After it is all said and done, you want to store foods properly, keeping perishable items in the refrigerator. For more on food storage, as well as other risks to consider, visit foodsafety.gov. Most importantly, have fun!

In my family we love challah bread. My aunt used to make the very best challah so after she passed away I made her recipe with my daughter. It was such a special experience and I was so happy to be able to pass the tradition on to her.

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