Sunday, August 10, 2008

Make bread, make a memory

Cooking is more than a chore in my house. There's a number of nights when my husband and I actually argue over who'll take over the task of making dinner. Chopping, slicing, planning and cooking is a kind of therapy for us after a long day - and some nights, a welcome break from children who behave like, well, children.

But cooking is central to our oldest child's life as well. She loves to join us in the kitchen, whether making pizzas, snapping beans, stirring, dumping ingredients, even assisting with cleanup. She's been helping in the kitchen since she was 18 months old, and loves it.

And frankly, I don't get why more people don't do it. Yes, it's more work, but the reality is, kids will make a mess, regardless. This way, at least you know what you're getting into. You're also teaching them a skill, subtly teaching them about colors, numbers, math and science, and, if you're fortunate to have a garden where you can pluck fresh vegetables and herbs from, you're also helping foster a sense of what nature can actually provide.

There's one more reason to let your kids help you cook: You're creating a memory.

I learned something new about my grandmother this weekend. I'd never met her and know very little about her, as she died when my mother was young. Yet out of the blue, my mother posts Saturday:
One of the few memories I have of my mother is sitting in the shade in the
backyard of my grandmother's house with my grandmother, mother and myself (I
must have been 5-7 years old) and snapping green beans from my grandmother's
abundant garden so that they could be canned for the winter.

Five decades later, in a random comment, I got a little slice of life from a little girl growing up in central Wisconsin. One of my first reactions was one my own memories of pitting cherries with mom at the kitchen table. And I'm sure my children will have their own to share.

Here is one recipe my daughter and I tried recently. The great thing is it's eggless, so you don't have to worry about salmonella in case the dough is sampled. It has just a hint of peanut butter in the flavor, but she inhaled the finished product. (OK, and the dough on the spatulas too.)

Peanut Butter Bread
from Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup reduced-fat crunchy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x5x3 pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the milk and peanut butter.

Transfer batter to loaf pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Note: I used a slightly different sized bread pan and found I had to cook about another 10 minutes to get it cooked completely through.


EcoBurban said...

My youngest (age 4) loves to shell peas. He won't eat them, but will happily pop them from their pods. Cooking with our children is something we should all take more time to do, I agree. I need to remember that when I am hurried and shooshing everyone out of the kitchen!!

Anonymous said...

I love this post! DD always wants to 'help' me cook or whatever I am doing! She has so much fun in the kitchen and I make just as big a mess as she does so it doesn't bother me! She isn't great in the garden yet - she wants to pick and eat EVERYTHING but I still let her help - and I love it.

And it is nice to know that someone else's house looks like a tornado just came through. I can't get mine looking decent for more than 30 seconds! But I would rather DD play, explore, and learn than live in a super clean house! So don't worry about the mess - you will have years to keep it clean when the little ones have grown and left the nest! UGH!