Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kid in the Kitchen

It's a wintry-mix sort of day out there, and another good day for baking.  

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!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hail the New, Ye Lads and Lasses

Fast away the old year passes, truly!  And it is good to stop, even for a few minutes, to reflect on what has passed, and what may come.  Because without that reflection, we so easily fall into the category that goes something like, "You do the ________, and I'll do all the rushin' around."  

I have a vague but growing concept of how much "rushin' around" I'm doing, without much intention.  And I want that to change.  

I want to be strong and healthy and trim again.  And I've been invited to run in this summer's Boilermaker.  But that (for me) is an enormous commitment; I'm not sure it will happen.  I did remove the coffee table from the middle of my living room, to encourage myself to actually use the new exercise DVD.  I haven't downloaded its accompanying workout calendar yet.  So I have good intentions, but the proof is in the pudding, not the recipe.  

I want to feed my family healthy fare, increasing our fruits and veggies, decreasing our sugars and snacks.  Unfortunately, I have this apparent inability to moderate myself.  If there's something sweet at hand, I will eat it.  And a lot of it.  And I'm not willing to totally give up sweets, like a pre-Passover leaven sweep of my sugary pantry.  So the vicious cycle continues.  I want that to change.  

I want to pay more attention to my children while I have them.  A big part of my rushin' around is checking Facebook compulsively, and way too much time gets wasted.  Yes, you matter to me, but checking in with your digital lives should never be more important than my child desiring my attention, my company, my intentional time--and my behavior would indicate that digital life reigns.  That has to change.  

That inability to moderate myself affects my whole personality, not just what I eat.  It affects how I use Facebook.  And so, starting tomorrow morning, I'm taking a one-week Facebook fast.  One week doesn't seem like much.  But really, to be honest, I expect it's going to be kind of a big deal to me.  It's going to be hard.  But if I keep being honest, and don't try to cheat or fill up all that time with some other stupid pursuit, but actually use that time for relationship (with my God, with my children, with my stack of New Years letters to send to friends), a Facebook fast has the potential to be revolutionary for this one week.  I would like to say that my new normal will be Facebook only on Sunday afternoons, and suddenly I will be much more present with my real life.  But, you know, the proof is in the pudding.  I'll see how this week goes, and accomplish a small hard thing before declaring I'm going to conquer a big hard thing.  

This next line doesn't quite flow well with the rest of my post.  But it is the heart and soul of the matter, and the more I invest myself in pursuing the face of God, the better all my other good intentions will automatically be!  So here, this, this is the heart of the matter:

I don't really want a "new year, new me" resolution for 2016.  What I need, and what I want, is a "less me, more You" resolution revolution.  

Cheers to that!