About Our Project

What does it mean to prepare for your future? What does it mean to be independent? When we are growing up, our parents, friends, and environment provide us with opportunities and circumstances that teach us a great deal about life. At the time, we don’t realize what we are learning. But when the time comes, we pull this knowledge out of the coffers of our mind to use in the situations needed.

When I headed for my first real job after college graduation, my mother gave my a trunk packed with things to use in the kitchen. We didn’t discuss what to do with those items or how to prepare recipes — years of watching her cook while I was studying at the kitchen counter, earning cooking merit badge, planning and cooking meals for my Boy Scout troop, and chances to experiment in the kitchens of my family, uncle, grandparents and other relatives had all given me enough fodder to which I could build a life in the kitchen. My parents weren’t the least bit afraid I wouldn’t be able to be cook for myself, to eat and live independently.

When you are the parent of young teens with special needs, you don’t have the same comforts. You aspire for them to live independently, to cook safely, healthfully and on their own or with minimal guidance. However, even if they have watched you for years, helped you in the kitchen as youngsters, even cooked a complete meal yesterday, nothing is certain that they will be able to do again tomorrow.

We live in an interesting age as well – a media driven age where recipes are available everywhere. This wealth of information if convenient and even fun to dabble with. However, for children with many special needs, this is overwhelming. They can become lost in the abyss of recipes. The following are probably not obstacles for you, but if you have ever worked with these people, here are some things to consider:

  • There is no recipe format rule; they are all written in their own styles, often with TONS of words that are too many for the learning challenged or the severely dyslexic to process
  • Most cooks try to multi-task and therefore write recipes in order to multi-task; how disastrous it can be for a challenged person to consider a boiling pot of pasta and cutting vegetables at the same time.
  • Recipes don’t standardize their language; one uses the term frying pan, another saute pan. Some call for fresh oregano, which would be nice and an experienced cook would know how to substitute or look it up on the internet. Is this vocabulary essential (saute) or this ingredient (fresh over dried) or can they accomplish the task by using something simpler and more readily available. And in the case of vocabulary, maybe it would be clearer to mention a pan with short sides.

Even with all of this in mind, my husband and I firmly believe that our children and others like them need to learn to cook for themselves and have an arsenal of recipes they can rely on. If they wish to venture out from there, that is their choice. However, as long as I am able, I want to restructure these recipes for them so that they have a better chance at being successful and are dissuaded from relying on the foods that aren’t healthy for them — saving general restaurant/diner food for rarer occasions, using processed products minimally, and enjoying the fruits of the Earth in fresher ingredients and that of their own labor.

So, this is our adventure together. With our children’s advice on every recipe (from which recipe to how well or clear it was to follow to whether they liked the taste and want to make it again), we are putting together this record of recipes they are learning to help them be independent. Someday, they hopefully will turn to others and say “[I’m] cookin for me”.

We hope you find these helpful. If you have questions, comments or thoughts about any of the recipes we post, please feel free to contact us.

Note: Many of the recipes in this are adapted from other sources to be in a structure, language, and with ingredients for them so that they can be successful in the kitchen. There are some recipes that are original creations as well. At this point all of the recipes are written for them to feed at least the kids, if not the whole family of 5, so that we can all enjoy the fruits of their labors. However, our goal will be to scale these down so, when living more on their own, they won’t be stuck with huge portions of food.

 

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