What I learned from bringing my toddler into the kitchen
I got the idea to bring my toddler son into the kitchen after reading this post on Cooking Manager.com. Before that, it hadn't occurred to me that I should involve him. Usually, my cooking or baking was, well, my thing. He played with his blocks and cars, and I played with my cups and bowls. Also, I can be a little bit of a control freak, and it was just easier (and quicker) to do everything myself.
That said, bringing him into the kitchen was one of the best decisions I've made.
It made me slow down and relinquish control. With my little man standing eagerly next to me on one of the dining room chairs, I got to look at the baking process through his young, fresh eyes. I knew that it was going to be a slow process, and that he would be very curious about steps that I regularly breezed through without a second thought.
We made blueberry muffins that first time. This is still one of the best recipes for mommy-toddler collaboration, in my opinion, because there's a bowl of dry ingredients, a bowl of wet ingredients, and the overall baking time is only 20 to 25 minutes. Plus, they're healthier than cookies.
I measured out the correct amount of flour, and he poured the contents of the measuring cup into the bowl. Ting ting ting went the metal cup as it vibrated against the metal bowl.
"Ooo, that's a lot. Yeah, a lot" was the commentary from my helper.
He discovered that sugar is tasty. I use turbinado sugar, and its big granules are very easy to pick out of the bowl. To prevent him from eating all of them, I gave him the job of mixing the dry ingredients together. He did so with vigor. My big helper.
I enlisted his help in checking the eggs for blood spots. I cracked the first egg and let it plop into my clear measuring cup, the big one I use for liquids. We looked from the top.
"No blood spots," I said.
"No bud spots," he concurred.
We looked from the bottom.
"No blood spots," I said again.
"No bud spots," he concurred again.
We went through the same routine for egg #2, and he took his job very seriously, and very much enjoyed watching the eggs jiggle down into the bowl. I gave him the job of mixing the wet ingredients together (with a little help from yours truly), and then we poured the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Wheee!
He did an admirable job of mixing those together, another important job (and another one I helped with).
"So hard... so hard" he told me, brow furrowed in concentration.
We added the blueberries, and as I folded them in he helped out by placing the muffin liners into the muffin pan. I separated the cups for him first, and he did an excellent job of putting them in their places. It's also a great fine motor skill task. Fun, and educational!
Filling the cups with batter was a job I left for myself, and anyways, his attention span was beginning to wane. This meant that he was safely far, far from the oven when it was time to insert the muffins. When they were finished cooking and had cooled, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor.
It's something that we have done many times since. I don't always have (or make) the time to do it, but when I do, I'm always very glad. It's a special time that we spend together, just me and him (his brother is a bit young to participate), and I love that I'm introducing him to the creative process that is baking.
I've learned that it's okay for it to be messy, and for it to take more time. That it's okay if he doesn't want to participate the whole time, or if he wants to go all the way. I've learned to stretch outside of my comfort zone, and to try new things. I've learned to be flexible, to enjoy the moment, and to treasure the memories that we're making together.
See the Blueberry Muffin recipe here. Â http://culinarykosher.com/recipe/Picnic/Blueberry-Muffins/2145
Rivki Silver blogs atÂ Life in the Married Lane, Â where she is busy finding the kedushah in the dishes.