Kitchenry: Apprenticing Ines

Probably the only kitchen activity better than me cooking is Ines cooking, or in this case, baking cookies. I can’t take credit for her expanding expertise at kitchenry. That goes to Beverly. I simply capture it all in images, and try to write about it (story below). Beverly works patiently with her. She allows her to try things out, and talks her through different activities as a full participant.

By the way, kitchenry is an interesting word. A kitchenry is a group of servants engaged in the kitchen, or the kitchen staff, circa 1609. I prefer to think of it as service, and not as servitude (although the underpaid kitchen staff of 1609 and today might think differently). Service is what we all do at one time or another for each other as family and friends…and, I hope, as citizens. Now Ines is learning how to do it and why it is important. It is a form of nurturing, which might not be connoted in the original meaning of the word but that’s okay because I don’t hear anyone else using the word and meanings of words evolve.

In our house, we are all part of the kitchenry, and Ines is apprenticing into it as a full member. She quickly mastered the vocabulary of the kitchen through observation and participation, and now she is taking on many of the tasks, including measuring and tasting. She knows, too, the importance of preparing meals. Slowly she is coming to understand the significance of sitting and eating together.

And now a story….


“Time to prepare dinner,” Mom said.

“Preparation time!” yelled Ines, as she ran from the living room to the kitchen and climbed on a stool.

“We’re making pasta with sauce,” mom said. She handed Ines the ingredients and read aloud the recipe.

Ines lined up tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, basil, and oregano.

Mom chopped, diced, diced, and chopped, leaving piles of vegetables and herbs for Ines to scoop up and drop in a bowl.

When she finished, Mom dribbled olive oil into the bowl and—shwooosh, shwooosh, schwooosh—stirred and stirred everything into a saucy mèlange.

“Yummy,” Ines said, licking a sauce-covered finger.

Mom poured the sauce into a saucepan and set the timer. “It needs to simmer,” she said. “It will be ready in one hour.”

“Preparation time!” Ines yelled and jumped from the stool and ran to the living room. She set Kitty Cat, Birdy, Hyena, Bunny, and Turtle on the coffee table.

“Time to make sauce.” She grabbed her wooden and cloth vegetables from her Little Chef refrigerator and chopped and diced, and diced and chopped. Scooping them into a pan, she stirred and stirred the mix into clumpy array of colors—clunk, clank, clank, clunk.

When she finished, Ines placed the pan on her Little Chef stove and set the timer.

“Are you hungry?” she asked her friends. “You must be patient. It’s simmering.”

Ines set a plate and silverware in front of each of her friends. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz, bumbled the timer.

“Time to eat,” Ines said, setting her plate and silverware at the end of the table.

She filled Kitty Cat’s plate with pieces of the hotchpotch. “Eat, Kitty,” she said

She filled Birdy’s plate, too. “Eat, Birdy.”

“Here, eat, Hyena.”

“Eat yours, too, Bunny,” she said, filling Hyena’s and Bunny’s plates and dropping pieces onto the floor.

“Turtle, here’s yo—uh oh.” Ines turned the pan upside down. It was empty.

“Who wants to share with Turtle?”

Slurp, slurp, chomp, chomp, chomp. No one said anything.

“It’s okay, Turtle. You can have some of Mom’s pasta with sauce.”

Ines ran to the kitchen. “Turtle needs pasta with sauce,” she said to her mom.

Mom put two pasta noodles and a dab of sauce on Turtle’s plate.

Ines ran back to the living room. “Here, Turtle,” she said.

“Did you eat your pasta already, Kitty?” Ines asked. “Do you want more?”

Ines ran back to the kitchen. “Kitty wants more pasta with sauce,” she said. “She’s still hungry.” Mom put two pasta noodles and a dab of sauce on Kitty Cat’s plate.

“Here Kitty,” Ines said, pushing the plate under Kitty’s nose. “Are you finished, Birdy and Bunny? Hey Hyena, did you eat their pasta?”

Before they could answer, Ines ran to the kitchen with Birdy’s and Bunny’s plates.

“Hyena ate Birdy’s and Bunny’s pasta. They want more.” Mom put some on their plates.

“Here Birdy and Bunny. This is my Mom’s. It’s good. Eat. Eat. Hyena, are you still hungry?”

Ines ran to the kitchen again. “Hyena is still hungry.”

“Why don’t we invite all of your friends to eat dinner with us?” Mom said. She set the bowl of pasta with sauce on the table. “It’s ready now.”

Ines set her friends around the table, and began to serve them.

“Here’s more pasta with sauce for you, Kitty. And you, too, Birdy,…and Hyena,…Bunny,….and, last but not least, Turtle,” Ines said. She filled their plates and hers, and sat down.

“Dinner certainly smells good,” said Dad, as he and Mom sat down.

“Ines helped make the sauce,” Mom said.

“What sauce?” asked Dad, pulling a sauce-covered spoon from an empty bowl.

Slurp, slurp, chomp, chomp, chomp. Ines and her friends, mouths full of pasta, smiled sheepishly.

Ines took another bite—chomp, chomp, chomp—and jumped from her chair. “Preparation time!” she yelled, running to the living room.