Post # 272 Kids in the Kitchen

July 7, 2014 at 6:00 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 272 Kids in the Kitchen

One of the first parties I was ever invited to I was in the second grade.  I remember the slightly older brother of one of my classmates calling and asking me if I wanted to come to a pizza party at their house that Friday night.  I’d never received an invitation before and didn’t know what a pizza party was, but I agreed then went to ask my mom what the heck was going on.  She knew all about it, and made sure that I was at the right place at the right time.  We all sat at large tables and plates were set in front of us with small pizza crusts.  Several moms were there to assist the kids in building there own pizzas and deliver them several minutes later.  It was fun, and the first time I can remember ever “cooking”.  Thinking back on it, it must have been a labor of love for those adults, requiring the logistical talents of the D Day invasion.

I’ve always been a big supporter of getting kids involved in the kitchen as quickly as possible.  It takes a lot of patience.  A whole lot.  I’ve had several kids in the kitchen over the years.  One of the funniest times was when my nephew walked in on me while I mixing up a batch of cookies by hand.  I’d only creamed the butter and just added the sugar so it was butter and sugar and nothing else at all.  I was using the large, hand painted ceramic bowl my mom had used to teach me how to cook.  My nephew saw the bowl and wooden spoon and knew immediately that good things were soon to be had.  “I like that.” he said in a very firm voice.  I tried to dissuade him, explaining it was just butter and sugar, but he remained firm.  “Okay,” I said, “Grab a spoon.”  His little face lit up in delight and grabbed the biggest spoon he could find.  His delight turned to disgust as he put the heaping glob in his mouth.  Me, being me, I asked him if he wanted more.  Indecision warred on his face.  He knew if he said no, there was no way in Hell I’d offer him another taste of anything.  But he also knew if he said yes, he’d have to put another spoonful of that mess in his mouth, something to be avoided at all costs.  He finally opted for a noncommittal “No, thanks.  I’ve had enough.”  I’m so mean sometimes.

Another time, I was teaching my volunteer little brother how to make fruit leather.  I was teaching him all kinds of fun things with the dehydrator.  We’d already made beef jerky, banana chips, apple chips, candied pineapple, and citrus decorations.  Now he wanted to learn how to make fruit roll ups.  In a dehydrator, fruit leather is easy.  You either use already made apple sauce, or you use a blender to make your own.  Then you add whatever other fruit you like and blend it smooth, or keep it slightly chunky.  It gets spread on special trays and dries in just a few hours.  You can add crushed nuts or coconut or something like that to give it some punch.  We did blueberries since we both like them.  We used a jar of applesauce and mashed the blueberries into it with a fork to make a slightly chunky.  Of course, then it became necessary to entertain him for the hours needed.  I didn’t count how many times I heard “Is it ready?” but I know it was more than once.  We watched a movie, went for a hike, and had lunch at a sub shop.  I took him to the arcade and a book store before we returned to the dehydrator.  I opened it up and let him decide if it was ready.  He decided it was.  I showed him how to take it off the trays, and set it aside to cool.  The cooling process is important since it helps stiffen the leather while keeping it pliable.  So we had to play a video game while we waited.  Once it was completely cool, and we had rolled what we wanted and cut the rest, we took a big chunk.  It was great, and all the better for having waited so long.

The last time I had a kid in the kitchen was when I babysat the little boy next door.  He wasn’t really sick, but his guardian felt it was better not to take chances.  He slept most of the morning and then we had things for school to get done.  One of those was we had to read a book and discuss it.  It was a book about dinosaurs and sharing.  I helped him sound out the words that he knew and we talked about letters and numbers.  Then we talked about what the book was about and how he could use the lesson with his brother and sister.  A little later, we set about making cookies.  I was going to make them by hand, but since he couldn’t do that well, I used the stand mixer.  I let him add the sugars, and the eggs, then he watched while I finished them off.  Then he watched a movie while I baked the cookies.  I made four dozen, then carefully explained to him what I had done.  I put two dozen in a baggie for him and told him that I put a lot of cookies in the bag and they were all just for him.  But, if he wanted to share his cookies with his brother and sister and guardian, I put plenty of cookies in the bag for them, too.  We talked about it for several minutes until I was sure he understood completely.  A few days later, his guardian told me that he came to her with the bag of cookies and very seriously told her that I had made those cookies only for him, but he wanted to share them because there were enough for everybody to have them.

Guess it worked.

More on Kids in the Kitchen next time!

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