We Tried It: Thyme to Cook With Your Kids Virtual Cooking Class
A Maui mom and former elementary school teacher started cooking classes online, Could her teen chef keep our 4-year-old on track in the kitchen?
Updated July 1, 2021: Thyme to Cook is no longer in business.
What: Thyme to Cook, a family-friendly live cooking class on Zoom
Who: A foodie mom and her messy, but enthusiastic, 4-year-old son
Where: Our condo kitchen
When: Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Searching for new and engaging activities to keep my 4-year-old son, Duke, entertained at home this past year has been quite a challenge. And frankly, I’m just tired and out of ideas. So virtual classes have been a lifeline for us during the pandemic. We log on to Zoom, and I hand the reins over to someone else for a little while. You name it, we’ve tried it: virtual MyGym, Sunday School, story times.
We’ve also kept busy by tagging along on the baking craze. We’ve made Bavarian pretzels, cinnamon rolls and pizza dough, to name a few. Yes, it can be scary having a preschooler in the kitchen. I’m not sure which fear is greater: the sharp knives in arms reach or the inevitable mess that will have to be cleaned up afterward. Despite all this, having Duke excited about cooking and baking (which I’m passionate about), makes it all worth it.
See also: 🧁 What It’s Really Like to Be a Baker (and Parent of a Baker) at the Kids Baking Championship
So, I signed us up for a Thyme to Cook With Your Kids virtual cooking class. The company was started by Maui mom and former elementary school teacher Me-Shell Mijangos during the pandemic as a way to encourage families to get into the kitchen with their kids. The recipes are healthy and kid-friendly, but elevated, such as tasty pot stickers, pumpkin walnut sage ravioli, and rustic apple and caramel galette.
While you can take a single class, Thyme to Cook With Your Kids is designed as a subscription program. A monthly membership gives you access to two live classes each month plus access to earlier recorded classes. The bimonthly classes have developed into a kind of community where keiki from Hawai‘i and the Mainland have gotten to know each other. There is even a private Facebook group where members encourage each other, swap recipes and show off photos of their final products.
We received our recipe and instructions in advance, so I could prepare and measure out all the ingredients prior to the class starting. This week’s recipe was Vegan Banana Bread with guest chef Tabay Atkins, a 15-year-old vegan chef and yoga teacher. I was both excited that Duke could connect with a teen chef and relieved that this week’s recipe was actually something my picky eater would try.
Armored with my apron and Duke up on a step stool, we joined in on Zoom and were met warmly by host Me-Shell; chef Tabay and his mom, Sahel; and four other classmates. After the greetings and a brief intro, we followed chef Tabay step by step in preparing the banana bread. No surprise, Duke’s favorite step was mashing the bananas. He even raised his hand to show off his superb mashing skills to the rest of the class. But Duke was impatient: Rather than waiting for instructions, he worked ahead of the group, pouring and mixing all the ingredients we had on our counter.
Tabay explained how flax seeds, an ingredient new to many of the families, can replace eggs in baked goods. In Zoom gallery view, we could see a girl and her mom with panicked faces: They didn’t have flax seeds! Calmly Tabay walked them through possible substitutes, and the whole class cheered when the mom found chia seeds in the back of her cabinet. The community feel and teamwork could be felt through the screen.
The class was truly interactive, with each classmate “spotlighted” to show their progress or ask a question. When it was Duke’s turn, he was a little shy but managed to show his batter and ask, “Did I do it right?” Most of the other classmates were girls between 8 and 10 years old; they seemed to be passionate about cooking and took the class very seriously.
Chef Tabay encouraged us to customize our banana bread with add-ins like cinnamon or jam. Once everyone’s bread was in the oven, he talked story about how his mom’s cancer diagnosis inspired him to become a vegan, how he developed his banana bread recipe while living on Maui, and his forthcoming cookbook. Duke tuned out during the chat and went to play with his Paw Patrol toys.
Of course, the hardest part of the class was waiting for the banana bread to be ready! Our condo was filling up with the most delicious aroma. Chef Tabay had taught us the “toothpick test”: Insert a toothpick into the bread and if it comes out clean, you know it’s done. After two toothpick tests, ours was finally done. But then we had to let it cool, which is extremely hard for a 4-year-old to do. Ugh! Finally, the sweet reward for all our work was ready. Duke and I both quickly shoveled down a slice of banana bread. He was so proud and couldn’t wait to share a slice with his grandmother and dad, too!
Our 5 Tips
- Set up for success. Create inner calm in the kitchen by having all your supplies and tools out before class starts. It’s also beneficial to pre-measure ingredients and to have a hard copy printout of the recipe.
- Saran is a savior. Reminiscent of the dentist’s office, I protected my computer keyboard and mouse with cling wrap because you never know where the mess can end up.
- P is for patience. There will be a learning curve, especially if you are new to cooking with your kids. Make it fun and not too serious. Remember, it’s about bonding with your child.
- Safety first. Teach kids about sharp things, hot things and other potentially dangerous things in the kitchen. I felt so bad when Duke ended up with a little burn on his wrist while performing the toothpick test, but he is OK!
- Teamwork makes the dream work. Involve your keiki in the cleanup process including dishwashing, returning tools to their proper places, and stashing ingredients back in the cupboard. These are vital life skills to learn!
Thyme to Cook With Your Kids offers single classes ($29), monthly memberships ($39/month) and access to the video vault of prerecorded classes ($19/month). Live classes via Zoom are on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 2:30 p.m. HST and typically last one hour. thymetocookwithyourkids.com