A Tasty Childhood: Cooking with your teenagers!

A Tasty Childhood: Cooking with your teenagers!

If I had a dollar for every parent I have heard complain about their teenagers not helping around the house, I think I would have enough money to travel to my most favourite destinations and enjoy the good life!
Raising three daughters, my husband and I were determined to see them become capable and resourceful young people who pulled their weight around the house and were skilled in all that they did.

Learning how to clean, cook and paint a wall was high on the agenda, as was learning their A, B, C’s. When the clothes had to be hung outside, I would set up a clothes frame and encouraged them to hang all the small items on the lines. If the dishes had to be done, no problem, pull up a chair and stand on it and when they were a little older, painting the wall was a fun way to fill in the school holidays. Their dad showed them how to look after their car, mow the lawn and nail the fence palings that had come loose.

I am sure there was probably more we could do, but coming from a Greek home where often the woman was instructed that she belonged in the kitchen and the man did not get involved in such demeaning work, I think we have progressed somewhat! (Not all Greek homes are like this, I must add!).

But seriously, who else would love to see their teenager in the kitchen creating amazing meals on a regular basis?

I know I would and as I can testify that I have been there and done that – people I am here to announce it can happen and it will bring you so much joy and not to mention a little more ‘me’ time if you are prepared to stick at it, have fun and don’t expect Masterchef meals to begin with!

My nephew was visiting recently and I suggested he do a little bit of cooking with me in my kitchen. He was keen and set about deciding what to cook – he chose lasagna and galaktobureko (Greek custard pies), organized the recipes and purchased the ingredients and I was super impressed.

Jay is a super-talented soccer player who is currently playing with the mariners on the Central Coast. He was up for the week for a soccer clinic and stayed with us over a couple of nights.

I was thinking he may come home after soccer training all day and not want to cook, but this young man is amazing and was not put off at all.

He wanted to make dessert first, so we made the custard ahead of time and just let it cool. Then I gave him a quick lesson on how to handle filo pastry – many of you would know filo can tear easily but Jay handled it like a pro and juggled each sheet with ease, a little like his ball skills on the soccer field!

The lasagna was next on the list and I was super impressed with his knife skills. Being a left-hander and never receiving proper instruction on how to use a knife or a pair of scissors, it’s been my biggest downfall when doing anything that needed cutting, straight! But Jay, a right-hander, had no problems and chopped away with style.

After two hours in the kitchen, with a dessert made and lasagna assembled, tomorrow night’s dinner was ready to cook and serve and by now, I was ready for bed but feeling very satisfied with cooking with this teenager who aced it all round!

So parents, cooking with your teenagers can be lots of fun and you will be surprised how clever they are – and they may even teach you a thing or two!!

Thanks Jay, you’re a champion!

Jay’s Lasagna

Serves 4-6

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  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500g turkey mince
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 400g can Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock liquid
  • 1 packet fresh lasagna
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Parmesan, extra

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    1. Preheat oven to 180*C. Lightly oil baking dish.
    2. Heat oil in a saucepan and cook onion and garlic until transparent.
    3. Add turkey mince and cook until browned, breaking the mince up.
    4. Pour in wine and stir until wine evaporates. Add cinnamon, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix through.
    5. Add chicken stock and bring to boil, turn heat low and cover to simmer for 30 minutes.
    6. Bechamel sauce – melt butter in separate saucepan, add flour, mix through add milk and using whisk stir to remove all lumps. Keep stirring until thickened. Remove from heat. Add egg yolks and cheese and mix through.


  1. Cover bottom of baking dish with a couple of spoonfuls of mince, layer with pasta, more mince and béchamel sauce and continue this procedure until all ingredients used up and finishing with béchamel sauce on top. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake in over for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

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