Wherein I teach with fire…

Safety first. A few weeks ago my nine year old daughter asked me if I would teach her to cook this summer. I should have been delighted, but instead I was filled with dread. I love that little thing, but when she and I get together for a lesson, it usually ends with her in tears and me banging my head against the wall. You have one of those kids too? We are learning language opposites! But since I am the adult in this situation, I screwed my head on differently to meet her learning style. She is concrete/sequential, while I am abstract/random. Concrete/sequential for the win, in every painstaking, orderly detail.

shock and awe- adults only, in fact, no one should do this

The first thing I wanted to teach little Dae Dae was that she would be cooking on an open flame, and how very dangerous it was. I purposely caught a towel on fire- much to her shock-  to show her how easy it was for fabrics to catch fire, getting us into dangerous trouble.  If you are reading this and are ready to leave a nasty comment on how I train my kids, keep it to yourself, I’ll do it my way you do it your’s, but the point is- DO IT!

We spoke extensively about fire, how to put it out, how to treat burns, how to avoid steam burns, how to STOP-DROP-and-ROLL, and how to scream out for help. We also discussed how to call 911. This lesson will be repeated throughout the summer to make sure she understands the severity of fire and burns,  and how to be safe in the kitchen.  This may seem overkill but I know my kid, Daelyn has to see things repeatedly to learn, she also has to do them. She thought it was a dumb idea and rolled her eyes big time when I told her that she had to now demonstrate to me how to Stop-drop-and-roll. But she did it, all the while screaming her head off for help. Good girl.

We were having so much fun, Zuzu got into the act and wanted to practice his rolling. See how much fun we were having from a dumb ole cooking lesson?

1. When I was about 15, I was babysitting two children down the street from my house, and it was my job to cook them dinner. One night the stove caught fire from grease. The flames shot up two feet, and if my Ma hadn’t trained me in how to handle grease fires, I would have had a disaster on my hands.
2. When I was in college, during organic chemistry lab, my experiment exploded. Due to extensive training in lab accidents, another student and I were able to put my burning hand, and lab station out quickly before I was severely burned and the fire spread.

Train them. Please.

How to put out a grease fire
How to use a fire extinguisher
How to treat burns
How to prevent kitchen burns

And what did The Teen think of all this…


the doctor says it's permanent

See what I put up with? Send Valium, please.

Anyhow, Daelyn and I will be sharing the recipe she made along with all the lessons I learned from teaching my little girl.

“When one teaches, two learn.”- Robert Heinlein


  1. Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    When I was pregnant with Robin, I had a frying pan on the stove filled with grease. I went into the other roon to watch TV until the oil was heated. When I came back into the kitchen, the pan was on fire. There was no lid near by and the flames were so high that I could not get to the cabinet. The first thing I could reach was the salt and poured the whole container in the pan which stopped the fire. It left me so shaken. I called my neighbor who came over (she had the flu but came over anyway) and she opened windows and helped me clean up some of the mess and what a mess it was. Had to call the insurance company to file a claim. Lesson? Never leave an oil pan on the stove unattended and be ready, have a plan in hand if this does happen. When I was first married, I did not know anything about cooking, I had to teach myself. My mother did not let us in the kitchen so we never learned. I was different, I trained my children to cook even though I did not like cleaning up the messes. I never complained about the messes and look at the results today – I have 2 great kids who are so efficient in the kitchen and they have made me proud. Ma

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 21, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

      Thanks Ma! I forgot about that story. I love you too!

  2. Posted June 21, 2012 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

    Good job! I think it’s wonderful that you’re teaching them and that you’re using the method that works the best way for them 🙂

  3. Melanie
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    What a great lesson….Just because it’s never happened at my house doesn’t mean it couldn’t! Thanks and I’ll pass this along to my two grown daughters as well.

  4. Coconut
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

    Hi Robin Sue,

    For what it’s worth, I applaud your teaching them all of those things, and more, and applaud your techniques, too.

    As you so aptly described, we all learn in different ways, different languages.

    On top of it all, it turned out to be fun, and got your other children involved, too.

    Look forward to seeing more here about your coming adventures.

    Hang in there, you can do it! 😀


    P.S. Thanks for the reply on my previous comment. Yes, the food changes are working very well, and constantly lead to new ways of cooking which I enjoy.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 22, 2012 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

      Thanks Coconut,
      Sure is a lot of work to teach them!! But they love it, until I tell them they have to do the dishes as part of the lesson- hee hee!
      That is wonderful that the food changes are improving your health. My kids are not paleo, but I am finding ways to be sure they have
      healthier versions of snacks and such at home.

  5. kelly
    Posted June 22, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    I like the idea of setting the towel on fire!
    I let my son start cooking at an early age and of
    course family members wanted to let me know that
    it was not safe……my thought was I had trained him
    well and it would only take one burn to realize the stove and oven was
    hot!!! and as stubborn as he is he had to burn himself once to
    realize I was right… It was HOT!

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 22, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

      You are right, they will still get burned and cut- jeepers I STILL do!! But to train them on how to handle the situation is important. Good job on training him young and letting him learn his own lessons!

  6. Posted June 23, 2012 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    wow, good job! you’ve had some close calls! yikes!

  7. Jane
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    Excellent parenting to you both Robin & Ma. The darkest place I have ever experienced was a burn center in Phoenix AZ (visiting an Uncle), the fear & despair on families faces was unforgettable. And teaching truly is the first step. Ma’s comment helped me understand why my Grandmother, who raised me, wouldn’t teach me a thing & always shooed me out of the kitchen. I blame her for my obsession w/ the food network – my only vehicle for learning how to cook! Except for great blogs like yours Robin Sue. 🙂

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

      Thank you Jane! Burn centers are very hard to take, the pain of the patients is unthinkable. Cooking shows have really taught all of us to try different things. I loved watching Julia Child when I was young!

  8. Posted June 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    So important! I amd going to incorporate this into my 4-H lessons next year…assumed because I taught my kids this, everyone has…not the case. Thanks!

  9. Posted June 26, 2012 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    I know this is a serious post with a really good advice and information, but I was giggling throughout reading your words and looking at the photo of “The Teen”. (They’re really maturing.)

    P.S. And about that watermelon salad with candied bacon … yum!

  10. Posted June 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    On second thought, perhaps I should have said ‘getting big’ instead of ‘maturing’.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 26, 2012 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

      Ha! Truly. Sadly I am immaturing as I get older- it’s the best way to fight this aging thing!

  11. Posted June 28, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    Teaching my kids to cook is way different than my dad teaching me. He was a professional chef – so he liked to “show” me how to do things and I was just like –
    “can I get a turn to chop that?” “or can I flip the pancakes”

    So I vowed when teaching my kids even though it’s hard for me to stand back and let them do it, I let them do it all by themselves. Now they are older 16, 14 and 10, BUT I love that if my husband and I go out to dinner, we can leave them to make a feast all by themselves.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 28, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

      Hi Jenn,
      It is a big commitment to teach them, but like you said, we get to go out while they cook dinner at home without burning the house down!!

  12. Kris
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    Great advice. My boys like to help but I’m so nervous with the stove. I think these tips are good for me too so I’ll be more comfortable teaching them. Thanks!

  13. Laura
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

    Your story made me grin! I really loved that last picture. My own are 25, 19, 17 and 15. The girls in the middle caught cooking fast, but the boys are more work. But, both my boys cook (still remember when the 25 woke me in the middle of the night to ask how to cook rice, LOL). And, both my girls know where the oil goes and where to check it!
    Kudos for your jumping in with both feet and starting with the hardest lesson of cooking — what to do in an emergency! Oil fires are very scary.
    I burn my right hand and arm with hot oil from an oven when I was in my teens. I’ve never forgotten that; you can still see the scars.
    It’s hard, but sometimes you can teach them what you know, but you still have to step back and let them fly.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:58 AM | Permalink

      Thank you Laura. We are having fun, it’s a ton of work but it will pay off!

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