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  • How to Keep Cooking Simple: Chef Heny Sison's Useful Tips for Busy Moms

    The chef and mom doles out advice how to run a kitchen like a pro.
    by Dedet Reyes Panabi .
How to Keep Cooking Simple: Chef Heny Sison's Useful Tips for Busy Moms
  • I love cooking and baking, but I’m also a working mom with no maid. Frankly, I make a lot of shortcut meals: pre-marinated meats from the supermarket, anything I can throw into a slow cooker, and when all else fails, fried chicken.

    So imagine how embarrassed I was when I met Chef Heny Sison — known for her exacting kitchen standards and high expectations for both the quality of the food and how it’s prepared and — and tell her what I fed my kids. But you know what? She completely understood. 

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    Chef Heny Sison's tips for simplifying food prep like a pro

    “Even if I’m a chef, when I go home I’m also too tired to cook,” said the working mom. “When you spend the whole day teaching, managing, and thinking…you just want to rest.” (Yes, sister! You get us, you so get us.)

    Chef Heny was lucky to have an excellent cook, but she also understands the daily dilemma of moms who don’t. Here are her professional tips to make it simple for moms.

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    Use base recipes

    Master one recipe that you can spin in different ways — for example, Chef's Heny's empanada. You can make a big batch of dough ahead of time. Just defrost and then add anything you want: the classic meat filling, canned tuna or corned beef, fish or vegetables.

    Chef Heny Sison uses chicken for her Kaliskis Empanada.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Heny Sison Culinary School
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    There are dozens of other base recipes that can get you through a crazy day. Take advantage of the low price of tomatoes right now to make a homemade tomato sauce you can use for pasta, pizza or chicken cacciatore. Perfect your roast chicken, and make two — use the leftovers for sandwiches and hearty salads.It’s like making an “instant” dish at home – except instead of buying pre-made ingredients, you’re using pre-prepared sauces or meats.

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    Practice food safety

    If you’re going to cook and freeze, practice food safety. If you make a big batch, divide it into batches and defrost what you need only. Never ever refreeze because it’s already been exposed and contaminated. 

    Use freezer-safe, food-safe containers, and write both what’s inside and the date you made it. And always clean your kitchen surface and tools before and after you prepare food! When was the last time you disinfected your cutting boards or the rags you use to wipe your counter?

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    Involve the kids

    Recruit and train your loyal sous chefs: your kids. “Learning how to cook is the first step towards adulting,” says Chef Heny. It’s true: when kids move out, they have to know how to make healthy (or at least edible) meals on a budget. Cooking also teaches responsibility, patience, and attention to detail, which are life skills they’ll use even outside of the kitchen.

    So, making them cook doesn’t just help you, it helps them a lot more. They may not show any interest in cooking now, but Chef Heny says that kids learn by osmosis.

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    Just like many working moms, she used to pick her kids up from school, and they would hang around her “office.” They overheard her cooking classes or instructions to her staff, and today, they surprise her by how much they remember, even complicated cooking techniques she didn’t consciously teach them. 

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    “How come you know how to make bread dough?” she asks, and they say: “Ma, I heard you.”

    Open your own kitchen to your kids. Let them hang out there when you cook. Give them age-appropriate chores. At dinner, talk about how you made the meal. Teach them their favorite dish, or get them to pick a new recipe you can learn together.

    Enroll kids in a cooking class

    Honestly, one reason I personally avoided cooking or baking with the kids is that it stressed me out. They often made a mess or would whine “Moooom, heeeeeelp me!” after five seconds.

    The solution: summer cooking classes. Even a three-day session teaches them kitchen basics and trains them to clean up after themselves.

     

    The Heny Sison Culinary school offers specially designed workshops cooking and baking workshops for kids ages 5 to 12 and 13 and above.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Heny Sison Culinary School
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    Chef Heny's culinary school's instructors are amazing with kids, and the program itself is improved every year based on feedback from previous years. Your kids will learn kitchen skills from the best! (See more details below.)

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    Rediscover the personal joy of cooking 

    Just like Marie Kondo taught us to “find joy” in decluttering, we can see cooking as something that’s personally fulfilling and even oddly relaxing. Rhythmic movements of chopping vegetables or kneading dough can be quite meditative. And since I’m the type of person who overthinks and overstresses about everything, I like getting lost in the sensory experience of cooking. For one hour, I can forget the rest of the world and just focus on the scents, colors, and flavor whatever I’m preparing. 

    And unlike yoga class, I get to eat my meditation.

    The Heny Sison Culinary School offers Lifestyle Classes, which are usually one-day hands-on workshops or lecture-demo classes. You can learn new skills, discover or rekindle your passion for cooking, and pick up pro tips that will simplify your cooking routine.

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    The Heny Sison Culinary School summer classes for kids aged 5 to 12, are from April 25-27. The Kids Can Bake Workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Kids Can Cook Workshop runs from 1 to 5 pm. 

    Call the Heny Sison Culinary School at +632 412-7792 / +63 918 371 5478 / +63 915 264 7970. Or visit henysison.com. To book a slot, send your name, address, email, and contact number to info@henysison.com.

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