See the lovely bowl of soup above? Emery, age 10 1/2, made it all by himself.
One of the advantages of growing up in a family where Mom loves to cook and writes about food, and Dad loves to eat and has impeccable taste, is that your chances of turning out to be of the Foodie persuasion are high. (In our family's case, the odds seem to be precisely 50/50, as Emery's younger brother hasn't demonstrated the same tendencies.)
My mother will point out that the Foodie gene has disadvantages as well, those related to waistlines. But if this is the way Emery chooses to exercise his Foodieness, I'm less concerned about that.
Emery's been interested and helpful in the kitchen for a few years now. He's taken on more and more complex tasks; his knife skills are quite good, and he's comfortable at the stove. But he'd yet to take a recipe all the way through. Yesterday he was leafing through one of his favorite cookbooks (Asian Greens by Anita Loh-Yien Lau - yes, he reads cookbooks for fun, just like his mom) and asked if he could make one of the simple soups all by himself. And I thought: Yes, it's time.
So I sent him and his dad shopping, and when they came home, I got ready to be his sous. And truthfully, I did very little. I reminded him to wash the grit off the bok choy, and I showed him what size I thought "julienne" meant in the context of Napa cabbage. And then I stood back, and he did the rest.
The soup is very simple: Simmer chicken stock with Napa cabbage for a few minutes, add bok choy and simmer a few minutes more, then remove from the heat, add a shot of sesame oil and a dash of white pepper, and you're done. Clean and clear. The perfect thing for an afternoon snack.
Did it taste better because he did it on his own? Probably. And he was so, so proud. As was I, of course.