What: Thyme to Cook, a live cooking class for the whole family on Zoom
who: A greedy mom and her messy but enthusiastic 4-year-old son
Or: Our condo kitchen
When: Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Finding new and engaging activities to entertain my 4 year old son, Duke, at home last year has been quite a challenge. And frankly, I’m just tired and out of ideas. Virtual classes have therefore been a lifeline for us during the pandemic. We log into Zoom, and I hand the reins over to someone else for a little while. You name it, we’ve tried it: Virtual MyGym, Sunday School, Story Time.
We also took care of supporting the pastry craze. We made Bavarian pretzels, cinnamon rolls, and pizza dough, to name a few. Yes, it can be scary having a preschooler in the kitchen. I don’t know which fear is greater: the sharp knives at hand or the inevitable mess that will have to be cleaned up afterwards. Despite all this, having Duke enthusiastic about cooking and baking (which I am passionate about), is worth it.
See also: 🧁 What it’s really like to be a baker (and parent of a baker) at the Kids Baking Championship
So, I signed up for a Thyme to Cook With Your Kids virtual cooking class. The business was started by Maui’s mother and former Me-Shell Mijangos Elementary School teacher during the pandemic to encourage families to enter the kitchen with their children. The recipes are healthy and kid-friendly, but elevated, like tasty jar stickers, pumpkin and sage ravioli, and rustic apple and caramel patties.
Although you can take only one course, Thyme to Cook With Your Kids is designed as a subscription program. A monthly subscription gives you access to two live courses each month as well as previously recorded courses. The bimonthly classes became a kind of community where the keiki of Hawaii and the mainland got to know each other. There’s even a private Facebook group where members cheer each other on, exchange recipes, and show off photos of their end products.
We received our recipe and instructions ahead of time, so I could prepare and measure all the ingredients before class started. This week’s recipe was Vegan Banana Bread with Guest Chef Tabay Atkins, a 15-year-old vegan chef and yoga teacher. I was both excited that Duke could get in touch with a teenage chef and relieved that this week’s recipe was actually something my picky eater would try.
Armed with my apron and Duke on a stepladder, we joined Zoom and were warmly greeted by host Me-Shell; Chief Tabay and his mother, Sahel; and four other classmates. After the greetings and a brief introduction, we followed Chef Tabay step by step in the preparation of the banana bread. No surprise, Duke’s favorite step was to mash the bananas. He even raised his hand to show off his superb brewing skills to the rest of the class. But Duke was impatient: rather than wait for instructions, he worked ahead of the group, pouring and mixing all the ingredients we had on our counter.
Tabay explained how flax seeds, a new ingredient for many families, can replace eggs in baked goods. In the Zoom gallery view, we could see a girl and her mom with panicked faces: they didn’t have flax seeds! Calmly, Tabay introduced them to the possible substitutes, and the whole class applauded when the mother found chia seeds at the back of her cupboard. The feeling of community and teamwork could be felt through the screen.
The class was truly interactive, with each classmate being ‘spotlighted’ to show their progress or ask a question. When it was Duke’s turn he was a little shy but managed to show his hitter and ask, “Did I do it right?” Most of the other classmates were girls between the ages of 8 and 10; they seemed passionate about cooking and took the course very seriously.
Chef Tabay encouraged us to personalize our banana bread with additions like cinnamon or jam. Once everyone’s bread was in the oven, he shared how his mother’s cancer diagnosis inspired him to go vegan, how he developed his banana bread recipe while living in Maui. and his next cookbook. Duke logged out during the chat and went to play with his Paw Patrol toys.
Of course, the hardest part of the course was waiting for the banana bread to be ready! Our condo was filling with the most delicious aroma. Chef Tabay taught us the “toothpick test”: insert a toothpick into bread and if it comes out clean, you know it’s done. After two toothpick tests, ours was finally finished. But then we had to let it cool down, which is extremely difficult for a 4 year old to do. Ugh! Finally, the sweet reward for all our hard work was ready. Duke and I both quickly shoveled a slice of banana bread. He was so proud and couldn’t wait to share a share with his grandmother and father too!
Our 5 tips
- Prepare to succeed. Create inner calm in the kitchen by taking out all your supplies and tools before class begins. It is also beneficial to pre-measure the ingredients and have a hard copy of the recipe.
- Saran is a savior. Recalling the dentist’s office, I protected my computer keyboard and mouse with cling film because you never know where the mess may end up.
- P is for patience. There will be a learning curve, especially if you are new to cooking with your kids. Make it fun and not too serious. Remember, it’s about bonding with your child.
- Safety first. Teach children sharp things, hot things, and other potentially dangerous things in the kitchen. I felt so bad when Duke ended up with a little burn on his wrist while performing the toothpick test, but he’s fine!
- Teamwork is the source of dream work. Involve your keiki in the cleaning process, including doing the dishes, putting the tools back in their place, and putting the ingredients away in the cupboard. These are vital skills to learn!
Thyme to Cook With Your Kids offers single classes ($ 29), monthly subscriptions ($ 39 / month), and access to the video safe of pre-recorded lessons ($ 19 / month). Live classes via Zoom are held the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 2:30 p.m. HST and typically last an hour. thymetocookwithyourkids.com