Make It Together

Can I help?

That should have been music to my ears, but as I gathered the ingredients to make brownies, muffins, and a batch of cookies as dinner was cooking, I shuddered.

I barely turned my head as I somewhat abruptly replied to my preschooler, “Not this time.”

His little shoulders slumped and he quietly said, “But I can do it. I can put the things in. I want to help.”

This is a dilemma I face every now and then. Do I slow down and allow for the extra time that his “help” will require or do I plod on by myself promising he can help next time?

The answer is both.

Sometimes it just isn’t the right moment to bond together over a mixing bowl. Some days I know myself well enough that I do not have the patience left to guide little hands as they mix and stir. There are times I do not have it in me. And that’s okay.

It’s okay because I keep my promise to have him help next time. And next time comes around quite quickly. On those days, I budget my to-do list better or shelve some chores for another day.

When I make time to bake or cook together we can slow down and taste each ingredient (now you know why we need to add sugar), lick the bowl (salmonella? What salmonella?), and talk about the importance of reading through a recipe first. They are learning the roles of various ingredients, what can be substituted in a pinch or not (flour is pretty crucial to cookies, vanilla less so).

In addition to creating good food, there is a love of baking and cooking emerging with our boys. Our oldest recently decided he was going to do a whole batch of cookies on his own. And he did a great job until he mistakenly added 1/3 cup of baking powder instead of a teaspoon. They were the fluffiest cookies I have ever tasted. Salty, but very fluffy. He will never make that mistake again.

Children learn by doing.

Kids have a better understanding of the work it takes to make a meal if they are involved sometimes in the preparation. And they are often more likely to try something new or different if they have had a role in the cooking process.

Recently I was whipping up a bunch of snack loaves and my oldest and youngest boys eagerly volunteered to grease the pans. As they coated the bakeware and themselves with butter, the little one piped up, “remember when we made our own cakes? I think mine was the winner.” A while ago, we had had a family recipe contest. Within reason, each of our four boys could concoct their own cake. Ingredients included sugar, flour, eggs, root bear, and licorice. They were surprisingly good, in part because they have been baking with us for years they had a working knowledge of what a cake needed. The recipe contest was months ago, but it was important.

Remember that time we had those salty cookies?

Remember that time you forgot to put an egg in those lemon bars?

Remember when you tried to make cauliflower crust? Don’t do that again.

So I make “next time” happen more often.

Because those are the times they remember.

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

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