Get widget

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cooking with Toddlers: Audrey Onciul

Toddlers.  They drive us nuts.  And we love them.  We just don’t always like them very much.  I’m not sure about the majority of Moms, but my biggest toddler complaint is my two year old’s constant need to be involved, with everything, even if it’s just by being underfoot.  Typical two year old, right?  Of course right.  Usually, I just deal and step around her and carry on my business.   The one place where this wasn’t usually possible, was the dreaded kitchen.

Now, we have a relatively small kitchen.  And I have a relatively healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) relationship with my kitchen.   I cook a lot, I bake a lot.  I’m trying to move in a “no store bought processed food” type direction, as much as possible with a toddler and infant.  So I bake our own bread, english muffins, bagels, cookies.  I’m starting to can my own BBQ sauce, ketchup and pasta sauce.   All good in theory, right?   The baby, as of this writing, loves to sit in his kitchen bouncer and watch.   The problem is, the toddler.  I spend too much time in the kitchen to time it around her sleeping, and with hot, dangerous processes going on, I can’t have her underfoot.   This presents a problem.  The solution, however, was so simple, so elegant, that I didn’t even see it at first.  This brilliant solution of mine lets me balance making what I want to make without tripping over her.   

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Are you ready?

I let her help.

This move might seem obvious to some of you.   But others, like myself, originally wouldn’t have even thought of it!   My neighbor has a three year old and can’t figure out how I cook as much as I do.  She claims she hasn’t been able to do so much as bake a batch of cookies since she was pregnant with her first, and she was absolutely floored when I told her that I let my 2 year old help.    I think I didn’t think of it at first, because I tend to still think of her as a baby in many ways and forget that she’s capable of more than I give her credit for.  The best part is, she LOVES it so much that even when I’m doing something she can’t help with, she loves to watch, quietly, in the hope that I will give her something to do!   I moved her stool to the end of the counter (as far away from the stove as she can be and still be at the counter), and any time I go into the kitchen, she climbs up and watches everything I’m doing at the counter.

But, wait, you might be thinking, “yeah right lady.  What can a two year old really do to help?”   You’d be surprised.  She can help pour things like flour and sugar into a bowl.  She’s really fantastic at using a cookie cutter to cut out cookies.   She loves to “help” knead the bread and roll dough out with the rolling pin.   Some things she’s not so good at include helping mix meatloaf by hand (she tries to put her hands, raw meat and all, in her mouth too much), cracking eggs (I don’t think elaboration is needed there), or mixing most things (not enough arm strength).  But I find the balance of what she can and can’t help with is enough to keep her interested for long periods of time.  And as a HUGE added bonus?   After she’s done “helping” me cook or bake, she further occupies herself by going to her play kitchen and using her utensils to cook!   

So folks, no more excuses.  No more “I want to cook/bake more, but can’t with a toddler underfoot.”  Just go for it.  They may really surprise you.  Remember, they WANT to help you.    As my mama says “home is their first school.”  And you might get lucky and they’ll be so occupied with their new skill that you’ll even get some peace after.  Plus picky eaters might be more inclined to eat something they helped with!  Now to work on getting her to help with loading the dishwasher, that may be trickier.  If you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a rambunctious two year old to start some Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread for snack time later.


1 comment:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...