When I hear talk now about getting kids to help out in the kitchen to make them more conscious eaters and give them the skills they'll need to make good food choices as adults, I'm always a little amused (and surprised). I'm sure my mother never thought twice about putting me to work in her kitchen as there was no reason a clever child such as myself couldn't peel vegetables, mash potatoes, empty the compost bin, and set and clear the table. None of these were particularly difficult or strenuous activities -- although I strenuously objected to emptying the compost bin -- and I managed to do them with a certain amount of competency considering my brain was almost always only half-concentrating on the task at hand while the other half was busy thinking about the novel I wanted to be off reading.
I did not actually learn how to cook from my mother -- oh, how I resisted girlification -- but I was aware that the foods I ate at home were frequently "better for me" and more "real" than food I saw on the tables of friends and relatives. This awareness has, no doubt, served me well as an adult, but caused some resentment in my childhood when I realized most people did not view pizza or fruit roll-ups as once-a-blue-moon treats!
Admittedly, my parents didn't have a lot of disposable income so my mother's restriction on junk food might have been more fiscal than nutritional. And that is probably also why we ate a lot of things like meatloaf, roast turkey, stuffed cabbage, and stuffed peppers -- cheap, filling, good for leftovers, and pretty nutritionally sound.
Regardless, I am grateful I had a mother who cooked (and who now shares her recipes with me).
Mom's Stuffed Peppers
6 large green bell peppers, topped and gutted
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 cup cooked rice
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350F°.
Parboil peppers in salted water for 5 minutes or until bright green and slightly tender. Drain. Cook beef and onions in a saute pan until browned. Add salt and pepper, garlic powder, rice, and 1 cup of sauce. Mix well.
Lightly stuff meat mixture into peppers. Stand peppers up in a greased pan about as deep as the peppers are tall. Top peppers with remaining sauce. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.
Serves 6 with mashed potatoes and tossed salad.