Food, Friends, Family & Faith – The Basics (part 2)

So, since you hopefully read part 1, where I outlined the history of family dinners and some of our challenges, let’s kick off the journey on how we can re-establish some family values that involve food.

To that, I need to bring you back to the beginning of my food adventures and what led to The Viking Heart Warrior and the Viking Heart Within initiatives. Therefore, I will not bore you with my birth and early childhood and will focus on why food is essential to my family.

Disclaimer

I am just putting it out there. I am not a trained or certified cook. I do not have a degree in this topic and base my ideas and thoughts on my own experiences. I learn as I go along. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, especially since I left the comforts of my mother’s kitchen, where she made all kinds of delicious traditional Danish food.

Cooking is a self-taught skill, although we did have proper home education when I went to middle and high school, teaching us the basics of navigating the kitchen, including how to prepare eggs, potatoes, gravy, meat, etc.

Introducing Denise the Menace

Of course, I caused some challenges and grey hairs for our teacher. My parents and many of our neighbors called me Denis the Menace or Emil fra Lønneberg for a reason. Both characters are a danger and challenge and constantly cause problems for their surroundings – but they mean well. So that was me as a kid.

We screamed, messed around, dropped shit on the floor, broke a few plates, burnt food, and other naughty things. But we all had tremendous fun learning how to manage a kitchen, and all my peers could prepare a simple meal at home from that time.

I was not a model citizen in school and had my fair share of trips to the principal’s office. On a few occasions, I had my ears pulled by teachers, my knuckles smacked with a wooden ruler, and my chin fat pulled. However, I do not blame or accuse my old teachers of abuse. My punishments were totally in line with my behavior and justified. My dad would probably have been much harder on me. This was in the ’70s and early ’80s.

But don’t tell my kids! Although I sometimes am tempted to remind them about proper punishment. I believe many kids and young people these days have never been accurately punished for misbehaving. Instead, we praise them with participation trophies and other soft parenting that does not teach them anything about life and failing.

I’m not condoning violence or extreme spanking, but some punishment is needed for misbehaving. I doubt losing privileges to mobile devices significantly impacts their understanding of what they did wrong.

Perhaps we need to introduce labor punishment where the kids are forced to work outside with the parents, vacuum the house, clean the toilet, or do some other activity that will teach them to behave – if they want to avoid cleaning our old poo.

Learning the Kitchen Basics

Navigating the kitchen and the ability to cook basic meals are essential life skills and have been extremely helpful during my early days of adulthood and later in life when I raise my own family.

People frown or smirk at the idea of teaching kids the basics of cooking, navigating the kitchen, creating meal and grocery plans, and doing other house chores such as laundry and cleaning. So instead, kids sit on their asses expecting this to happen automatically, and the parents are to blame for the kids’ inabilities.

Most households have, according to kids, magic appliances that clean up the house when they are away or sleeping. The plates in the sink are mysteriously moved to the dishwasher, and clothes on the floor are coincidentally in the washer. The magical and imaginary elf strikes again!

We have magical kitchen sinks and clothe moving devices that operate at night!

No, parents look after the house chores because we and the educational system have not taught kids how to work or help out around the house. I’m to blame, too, for my failings as a parent despite trying to get my kids involved with cooking food.

We must teach our kids some fundamental household skills to survive in the future. I dread the food served in the retirement home when I get older if we rely on our younger generations to cook. I’ll be damned if I eat Mac n Cheese or some shitty TV dinner that has been nuked in the microwave.

Many kids can’t boil an egg! They don’t know how to test if boiled potatoes are ready, clean vegetables, fry meat, or even check if poultry has reached the correct internal temperature. Some even have problems cooking mac n cheese using the instructions on the box or toasting bread.

Mac n Cheese boxes are only for emergencies in our home. I make it from scratch. It takes a little longer but damn delicious, especially if you smoke it on the Traeger.

Stepping up the basics

My mother relied on us kids for kitchen and home chores, such as boiling and peeling potatoes, preparing the Danish meatballs mix, cleaning the kitchen, folding the clothes, vacuuming the house, and helping in the kitchen when we had family & friends over for dinner.

When I moved out at the tender age of 19, leaving the comfort and safety of my parent’s house, I can proudly state that I could prepare basic meals, do groceries, clean the apartment, organize the laundry, and follow recipes.

Since then, I have provided for myself, my girlfriend (now wife), and our kids. It didn’t matter where I lived; moving to Ireland and the US expanded my culinary experiences and introduced me to new ingredients and avenues to source food.

My basic kitchen and household skills helped me succeed alone and when moving around. I credit my primary and secondary school (middle- and high school) education and my mother, who ‘forced’ us kids to participate in the household.

We need a lot more of this, and I will explore this in more detail in this series of posts and share what I’ve done to encourage this within my family. But I’ve extended it to cover friends and will share some approaches that worked for us.

Please follow the next few posts; I welcome any comments or feedback.

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