Meera Ekkanath Klein is a writer and mom, who lives in Davis.

Another View: With nudge, my son began cooking

Published: Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2E
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 - 9:42 am

Although I agree with Elaine Corn's article, "America's struggle with cooking" (Forum, Feb. 10), I also have to point out that I am waging, albeit a one-woman – one-mom? – battle against this alarming trend. And I think I may be winning.

In 2011 when my oldest son prepared to move from the college dormitories to a rental home, my writer and mom instincts guided me to put together an easy-to-follow "College Cookbook." My then-19-year-old was skeptical about the idea and reluctant to try cooking. But I knew being a vegetarian he would not have the luxury of running out for a burger.

Instead of arguing, I sent him a box with a round loaf of sourdough bread from Davis' Village Bakery, wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting too hard. I added one yellow onion, one red pepper, a head of garlic, a small package of dried Italian herbs, and a hunk of hard cheese that had a long shelf life and a can of artichoke hearts. "All you have to do, "I wrote him, "Is to sauté the onion, garlic and pepper in some olive oil, add a pinch of salt and herbs. Cook until soft. Add the artichoke hearts and toss. In a large casserole pan, break the bread into chunks; pour custard made from half a dozen eggs and a couple of cups of milk, season with a teaspoon of salt and more Italian herbs. Add cooked veggies. Bake for 30 minutes. Add some grated cheese and let it melt for about five minutes. Voila! Dinner and lunch (and maybe even dinner for the next night) in about 20 minutes."

With every bite of smoky cheesy bread pudding his reluctance slowly melted away. A few weeks ago, he asked me how to make my mother's lemon rice recipe. He taught his visiting girlfriend to make the deliciously simple rice dish. A few days later, when she was in UCLA, she shared the recipe with her roommate. Her roommate, in turn, shared it with another friend. I hope this glorious recipe mutates – with additions of green beans, mushrooms, ginger and other ingredients that will make my mother shudder in dismay – and becomes a favorite for college-bound teens.

My point in all this is that if my son can learn to cook, then anyone can do it. Soon I will get ready to send off my 16-year-old and his challenge will be even greater because of a life-threatening peanut allergy. How will I prepare for that? That's whole other story for another day.

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