It’s that time! The children are out of school and probably have already said, “I’m bored,” two dozen times. Now is the time for mom and dad — or grandmother — to exit the kitchen and all the duties that go with it. Then, let the older children plan, shop, prepare, cook, serve and clean up a meal.

A friend recently did this, and it was a great success — even flowers on the table.

Of course there needs to be some help for younger children, ages 5 to 10, especially with the stove, microwave, sharp knives and such, but there are still things they can do.

I know it takes a lot of patience on the adult’s part, so perhaps let grandparents have this honor for the first time or two. We all know that grandparents are usually more tolerant and understanding when “grands” are involved.

Teaching them to set the table correctly is just as easy as just throwing things on it, so it’s important to learn it right the first time. The knife and spoons go on the right side of the plate with the knife blade turned in toward the plate, the spoons to the right of the knife. On the left side, the forks, if there are more than one, are placed in the order in which they will be used. We are not measuring with rulers (as was done on Downton Abbey), but it might as well be done the right way.

I did not grow up with formal dining. However, as I grew older I learned these things from books, watching TV and movies and observing at nice tables. I am embarrassed to tell you, but I need to admit it to someone. We were invited to a lovely party once, and while the hostess was in the kitchen I looked at the table. It was beautiful, but the knives were turned wrong and other things were ajar. Without thinking, I went around the table and slightly rearranged things. OK, I know that was not nice, but no one said a word.

Here are some kid-friendly recipes.

Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

3 eggs

3 tablespoons water

1 slice American cheese

Break eggs and whisk slightly with fork. Pour eggs into a 1 quart microwave-safe dish that has been sprayed with pan spray. Add water, and cheese, torn into pieces. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir and return to microwave for 1 more minute at 50 percent power. Stir well and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Steamed Broccoli

About 1 pound broccoli, broken into florets.

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

Wash and place in a medium sauce pan with 1/2 cup water (on a steamer basket if you have one). Cover and cook for about 8 minutes until broccoli is tender. Drain off the water. Place in a serving bowl and add salt and butter. Makes 3-4 servings.

Chips off the Old Box Cookies

1 box chocolate or yellow cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (or with a big spoon), until all ingredients are blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased or sprayed cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes until cookies are firm around the edges. Let the cookies stay on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Then remove to cooling racks. Makes about 28 cookies.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal’s Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.