In general, my relationship with the kitchen is this: I cook to serve my family. It isn't a love affair for me, or a particularly creative outlet. I just want my family to have good food, and I was blessed to grow up with a mom (and grandmother, and great-grandmother, a long Southern legacy) who pretty much always put good meals on the table. As a kid, I didn't learn how to make good meals. But I did learn what good meals looked like, so when the time came that meals were suddenly up to me, at least I had a worthy goal!
Now, part of that goal is to teach my boys (sometimes along with me) how to cook, and how to enjoy cooking. There are a few prerequisites for enjoying the company of your kids in the kitchen, but they're worth it.
Kids are gross. Always, always, always remember to wash hands. And plan to train them to cover their coughs and sneezes. And not to stick their hands back in the bowl after licking them. And that food that lands on the floor doesn't go back in the bowl (unless it's washed off first). And then, despite all that, just learn to be ok with some germs, because they're inevitable.
As my grandmother taught me, before you start anything, read the WHOLE recipe. And when you add kids, it really is helpful to only make recipes you're already comfortable with yourself.
Lately, I've been using recipes as reading practice with Lewis. He's learning to read cooking ingredient words, as well as fractions and other measurement words. It's so cool to watch him sound things out! However, make sure you DON'T need to cook within a timeframe. Just plan that things will be SLOW, and everybody will be happier.
If you're willing, your kids can help you with a surprising amount of the process. And when you take the time to teach them some techniques--like how to level the scoop, how to tap the ingredients out on the edge of the bowl, how to use tools properly--it works well to have them more and more involved, with less and less mess.
Today, Lewis helps by unwrapping the butter...
...and "chopping" the white chocolate wafers into chunks. Actually, this is really hard work, even for me, but why not give him a shot at it, right? There's some good pounding action happening here :0)
And then, of course, enjoy a little white chocolate snack!
Lewis is in charge of turning the mixer on and off. He practices speeding it up by just the right number of clicks. We start slow, and add speed as the ingredients get better mixed.
He's learning the names of different tools, like the scraper spatula--and how to do things like "scraping down the sides." Again, mommy still takes a turn after him, but he's able to make some progress with it.
Measure... ...add... ...mix.
Combine the dry with the wet ingredients, more mixing, more scraping down, and finally fold in the chips and craisins. And then, the reward:
It takes a lot of concentration to wrap that tongue around a batter-y mixing paddle <3
And cleanup. There will always be more cleanup with your kiddos than without. But by now, Lewis can clean himself up (mostly). And look at that: I did sweep up the white chocolate dust that got spilled between the chopper and the bowl. But honestly, those few oats? I make that much on my own! Lewis is getting pretty good.
Meanwhile, this Sweetness jolly-jumped himself right to sleep. Up to bed with him. And in 12 minutes, we'll enjoy some cookies! Woohoo!