Kids and cooking don't always mix. Parents may worry about knives and a hot stove and a big mess.
An East Tennessee woman takes children into the kitchen for a safe and fun hands-on cooking experience.
"We're making blood and guts potatoes," Jan Kowalski announced to the elementary school aged students gathered in a kitchen in Halls.
Blood and guts potatoes is her kid friendly name for a baked potato concoction.
No utensils allowed.
It is hands on cooking.
Ada, Ashley, and Tanner dug in to the potato, cheese, ketchup creation. Ean and Chase mixed it up too.
With his hands covered in the potato mixture, seven year old Chase announced, "I know I'm not going to be a heart surgeon when I grow up."
When Jan Kowalski makes meals with kids she lets them assemble courses they eat.
She calls her in-home parties "Cooking with Kids."
"If they cook some of the foods, different foods, they might eat it more because they actually cooked it," Jan Kowalski explained.
She passed out bowls and plates and demonstrated what to do. "This is an egg. Egg and a little bit of water."
The chicken nuggets they made were not the typical kind served at a fast food restaurant.
She passed out sandwich bags full of potato chips.
"Now we need to crush these. How do you think we're going to crush them?" she asked.
"1, 2, 3 go!"
The children gleefully pounded the bags and the chips became crumbs.
The children then followed instruction to empty their crushed barbecue potato chips into a bowl.
"Pick a piece of chicken and put it in the egg," Jan explained. "You're not afraid are you of getting dirty. You guys are boys. Come on girls show them how we do it. We put it in there and we get it all covered with egg."
While the nuggets baked she brought out a crunchy vegetable.
"This is celery. We're going to make an appetizer," she said.
Celery is something the children may not have ever tried.
She helped them squeeze peanut butter on the celery slices then added one more ingredient.
"And you're just going to crumble the onion on top and that is your topping," she explained.
Little hands peeled bananas to create something Joy calls banana coins.
"You're going to wrap it up like a little package and roll it on up there," she said.
She handled the cutting, then they took care of the eating.
"I think once you make it fun that really get into it and they will try it. Doesn't mean they have to like it but I always like kids to try something. And that's what I do with my grand kids. I say just try it. And most the time they like it," she said.
Chase said, "I made some nuggets that look really good. And I thought the celery was delicious."
She tailors the party to the age group from young children all the way up to teens.
"You got to get all dirty and mushy," Chase said.
Joy announced, "Chicken's coming out of the oven."
Lunch was served.
"You guys did this. I didn't make this," she told them.
The kids made the meal, the kids made a mess, and Jan handled the clean up.
Chase said his parents may even let him into the kitchen.
Does he think they're going to let him cook with your hands?
Chase said, "Probably not."
For more information about Cooking with Kids contact Jan Kowalski at waljan2@comcast net or 865.230.8391