Christelle manages a team of business analysts at a systems integration firm, where she’s affectionately known as “mama bear.” Despite her technical role, a 90-minute commute, and the tightly packed schedule of a working mother, she’s found a way to cook dinner with her kids four nights a week.
“It’s not gourmet, it’s not something I’d serve at a restaurant, but it tastes good,” she says.
With her two sous chefs, Christelle manages to get dinner on the table between daycare pick-up at 6:00 p.m. and a bedtime routine that starts around 7:15 pm (and ends just after 8:00 pm with a glass of wine).
It was during her drive home one day that she came up with the idea to share some of her family recipes–old and new–by starting a blog, Cooking with Kids and Wine.
“Part of me is cooking. It’s definitely in my blood,” she says, describing the passion that sparked in her own childhood.
“My grandmother and I used to love cooking together,” says Christelle. “My favorite cooking memories are with her. She was amazing at coming up with recipes and we just had so much fun together.”
Christelle embraces the mess that comes along with bringing young children into the kitchen, and takes pride in blogging with photos that aren’t professionally styled. That doesn’t mean she shies away from complex recipes.
“My heritage is French, Irish and Mexican, so lots of different flavors.”
In fact, she recently recreated the French Financiers reminiscent of trips to patisseries in France while visiting her grandparents.
How this Mama Makes it Work
Her advice for parents who aspire to do the same?
“Introduce it as early as possible. I was giving my kids salmon and hummus when they were 10 months old.” (Much to the surprise of their daycare providers.)
Christelle counts Stuffed Squash among their staples, and often creates recipes based on what’s in the fridge.
“We don’t have hot dogs in the house,” she says. “I do have chicken nuggets in the freezer for desperate days, but they don’t think to ask for those things because it’s not offered to them.”
In her tips for bringing kids into the kitchen for the first time, Christelle recommends having all your ingredients handy and making a game out of it.
“I would have them smell the spices when I was cooking. They were always involved, and I think that’s part of why they enjoy it,” she says.
She also gives her kids the space to decide when they want to join her in the kitchen, and admits “sometimes they’re not in the mood to help.”
Christelle blogged about a recent weeknight when her daughter helped pull together Sloppy Joe-Styled Sausage and Peppers, complete with freshly picked basil, while her son opted to play with legos instead.
When I asked if she sees her kids developing their own passion for cooking, she said it’s too soon to tell. For now, she’ll enjoy creating those memories that would otherwise be elusive on busy weeknights.
“There are times when they ask to cook with me and that makes my heart happy.”