Classic Butter Roasted Turkey

On Monday, I did a six hour photo shoot with Award winning photographer, Elizabeth Messina. I'm in love with all of the pictures. They are so incredible. (Someone joked she should have another blog called Kiss the food:-)

Thanksgiving to me is the ultimate potluck. It is the time when everyone should take part in the meal. Usually I'm a total control freak about menus because I want to be sure all the food goes together and compliments each other. So I usually make it all myself to ensure that. Thanksgiving is the exception. Thanksgiving is one of those meals complimented by the variety of flavors and part of the celebration is to let each family member do their part.

Children need to be a part of the tradition. Katherine learned to peel potatoes when she was six and both girls peel potatoes now. And it wasn't because I was a chef or even a great mom who thought she should teach her child to cook, it was because Katherine wanted to help. She wanted a job. Children like to feel a part of something and the same pride all of us do in accomplishing something. Teaching children to cook should begin at a young age so that cooking becomes a part of them and that they feel comfortable. I frequently hear people telling me of all their fears in the kitchen. Fears of failure, fears of burning themselves, fears of not cooking the food properly. Some parents don't let children in the kitchen because they don't want them to cut or burn themselves. I remember going over to a friends house in sixth grade and she was hungry and I said well I'll make something to eat and she said her mother didn't allow them to use the stove. I still remember the house and moment like yesterday because I thought it was so bizarre that she would be forbidden from using the stove. We were always allowed to cook from very young ages. And while I believe that children under six need supervision with knives, children are as capable of using a knife as they are at hammering wooden pegs. And for the record, my children have never cut themselves nor have any of the children in my cooking classes. The biggest injury we have was from someone how poked themselves with a pencil. And that was during a class when I taught them out to deep-fry chips, grill salmon and use knives! Again, my daughter Katherine knew how to grill salmon perfectly by age 9 only because at younger ages she kept saying "mommy, I want to help."

And I know it is more work to take the time to teach children to cook. I'm guilty of being in a hurry and just wanting to do everything myself because it is faster. But the old quote: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." applies here. And YES there is often a bigger mess, but they can learn how to help clean up too. The extra effort and energy to teach them is worth it. You'll give them a skill they can use forever. Take advantage of that window of opportunity when they are young and want to help with everything.

All that being said one of the easiest things to make for a first time cook is a turkey! I always say you should start with a turkey because you'll be so proud of your accomplishment. 4-year-old, Jasmine (who currently insists on being called Sprinkles the Fairy) was my sous-chef during our photo day. She literally helped with everything and was so interested. (4 years old is an ideal age to teach kids to cook because they sincerely want to help with everything!) Jasmine did the entire thing and followed directions perfectly. The only thing I did was unwrap the turkey and lift it for her. I also put it in the oven. I LOVE all of these pictures!! The last one is my most favorite because she couldn't wait to eat that turkey and she loved it!! (another secret: kids will often want to eat the food they make so teaching them to cook has a double benefit!)

My recipe for Classic Butter Roasted Turkey is featured on award winning photographer Elizabeth Messina's blog Kiss the Groom.


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