Thursday, February 12, 2009

Group Cooking 101

I'll admit it.  I have not been very excited about the prospect of having the kids help me in the kitchen.  They're messy, they're slow, and they tend to enjoy the strangest things at the most inopportune moments.  It is SO much easier and faster to do it myself.

On the other hand, I want to teach them how to cook, and they're eager to learn, so I decided (and yes, it took a conscious decision) to start teaching them now, before they decide it's not fun anymore.  I just make sure we're making something that is easily salvageable in case of accidents, and that we have plenty of time to get it put together.  And I'm teaching them to start with a clean work area and to clean up after themselves as we go.  :)

So, yesterday for lunch, we made Creamed Tuna on toast because our bread was going stale.  (You wanted the truth, right?)  :)  My part of the process sounded something like this:

"Everyone washed their hands with soap?  OK, Anya, you can unwrap this butter and put it in the pan.  No, if you want to unwrap the butter you can do it now and get a drink after you're done.  Macey, please get the flour.  Jaela, find a tablespoon.  That's a cup.  You need one of the spoons that says 1 TBS on it.  Macey, if you keep whining at me you won't get to do anything else.  You'll get a turn doing something.  I know, you can get the toaster out and put the bread in it.  Anya, are you about done opening the butter?  Jaela, while we're waiting for the butter you can measure one tablespoon of flour, but don't dump it in yet.  Isaak, take the ball out of the kitchen.  No, I'll pour the milk into the measuring cup because I just opened this gallon and it's too heavy for you, Macey.  Anya, is that butter unwrapped yet?  Put it in the pan and throw the paper away, then wash your hands again.  Macey, stir this butter until it melts, but be careful not to touch the pan.  It's hot.  Jaela, you can put the flour in and then get one more spoonful.  Macey, keep stirring all over the pan so that the flour doesn't stick and burn.  No, thank you Jaela, I'll put the milk in.  Keep stirring, Macey.  Jaela, you can put the flour away.  Yes, Anya, you can get out the ketchup.  Hold on a minute, Jaela.  I don't know yet what you can do next.  Anya, why are you getting the stool?  No, the ketchup is in the fridge!  Isaak, please shut the drawer.  Here, Macey, let me stir for a minute to make sure it's mixed up good before we put more in.  Jaela, it's your turn to stir.  Macey, fill this tablespoon two times with ketchup and dump it in.  Isaak, get out of the cupboard!  Yes, Anya, you can put the ketchup away.  No, please put it in right side up, it's too full to put upside down yet.  It keeps falling over.  Would you like to help open the tuna fish?  These are neat packages Daddy bought, aren't they?  Keep stirring Jaela.  What?!?  They even put corn syrup in Worcestershire sauce!  OK, dump the tuna in, Anya, but be careful of the hot pan.  Just one, Macey, and let Anya open the other two.  You can push down the thing on the toaster now, Macey.  Let me break up those chunks, Jaela, I don't want you to get splashed.  Macey get plates, Jaela get forks, Isaak get in your highchair.  Everyone helped, Macey, not just you and Jaela.  Quit trying to upset your sister.  Who wants milk?"

In spite of the chaos, it was kind of fun!  So, after snack, when no one wanted to help me work in the kitchen, I wondered aloud if I had enough energy to make the cookies I had planned to make.  Jaela immediately changed her mind and volunteered to help me.

So, Jaela and I made cookies yesterday afternoon, just the two of us.

And since Anya was the only one still at the table after lunch today when I discovered that my new crock pot had been delivered, she helped me create "Stoneless Stone Soup".

Macey, not to be left out, helped make bread later in the afternoon to go with our soup.

And Isaak just wanted in on the picture-taking fun!