Sunday, November 9, 2008

Break out the spatula and measuring spoons

You may remember a post about William, a kid who breaks my heart a little. Shortly after that initial post, William disappeared for several months. Rumor had it that troubles had increased at home so he'd moved in with a relative. But he never said so much as good-bye to Mike and Diane, and we figured we might never see him again.

Lo and behold, just before Halloween, William resurfaced. He's back at home, but for how long a stretch is anyone's guess. This is a kid who seems destined, through no real fault of his own, to slip through the cracks. A person wants to guard against getting too close. And especially wants to guard against the arrogance that we have any control over his fate--that working together, we can somehow save his life.

But it's painful not to root for this kid.

Exhibit A is a letter he sent me by way of Mike and Diane. I'm sure it's tough to read, so I've transcribed it below:

Dear, Ms. Prahl I wooyld Love a cooking Lesson. I will Love to Learn How to Cook.

From: William Estrada

PS. I promise to rack your yard for you or or shovel.

I worry a little about what hanging out with a handful of aging nerds like us may do to William's street cred. But you can bet money that I'll be putting together this cooking lesson, probably along with a field trip to the grocery store and a vermicompost lesson involving our worm bins.

So I need to enlist your help, especially those of you with kids. What should I teach him to cook? My basic criteria are that it's something healthy, requiring no special equipment, with tasks that small and clumsy hands can manage. Any suggestions would be welcome.


LazyMF said...

I would suggest you start with the basics. Use inexpensive, easy to find ingredients that he can use daily in his life. Find out what veggie he likes. Teach him how to saute it and then add it to a basic omelette. Teach him to use butter or margarine as the cooking oil. Add fresh herbs from your garden as the garnish to introduce him to those flavors.

Adriane said...

I would cube potatoes and put them in a ziploc bag with olive oil and let him mix them around in the bag to get them covered. Roast with sea salt sprinkles. I would cook a steak with a squirt of olive oil in a cast iron pan. I would steam whatever vegetable he likes and squeeze a little lemon juice over it and sprinkle with seasoning. I would make brownies for dessert. All of these are easy so that he won't be intimidated with cooking. All of them are "accessible" flavor wise - easy to make more "sexy" with some condiments, etc., but plain enough if he doesn't like complex flavors. Leave him excited by how fun and simple it was. Maybe he'll want another lesson, which could be a bit more challenging in both preparation and flavors.

tracy said...

Oooh, the worm box sounds like the most fun!

leslie said...

A little more complicated, but a favorite in this house is pizza. If you have the day together, he might like to knead the dough and see it rise, etc. Then there is the chopping and roasting of vegetables, and cheese grating—all things my kids love to do. If there is no time for making your own dough, you could show him where to buy the pre-made stuff at the store, or maybe a local pizza shop will sell some dough (many do). Have fun, and keep us posted!

Christy said...

Thanks for all these great suggestions! I'm leaning toward the pizza, I think, because it might be therapeutic for Williams to vigorously knead some dough. Now we'll see if this ever actually happens. Hope so!