Monday, June 5, 2017

Clark Summer Cooking Adventures, Part 2: April's Waffles and the Perils of Cooking

By far, the most popular things to make for dinner among the Littles are pancakes and waffles. They would eat pancakes and waffles for three meals a day if I let them. During the summer when they are doing the cooking, the rule is that only one of them gets to make breakfast for dinner each week. And we rotate who gets to do it. April got the first round of waffles this summer.

As I write this, I'm realizing that my favorite waffle recipe isn't yet on Near to Nothing! I'll have to post that soon. It's a yeast-risen waffle recipe which is great because you put it together the night before (for breakfast) or the morning of (for dinner) and let it rise in the refrigerator until you are ready for it. Kimiko's go-to waffle recipe can be found here.

In the shuffle of April's waffle day, we did not get the yeast recipe mixed together in time, so we went with the regular waffle recipe out of The Joy of Cooking

As I've said before, I try to let my kids do as much of the cooking as they can do on their own. April is now six years old and can do quite a bit on her own. For the waffles, she measured the dry ingredients (as I challenged her to double fractions), cracked the eggs, poured the wet ingredients that I had already measured out, mixed the batter, and poured the batter into the waffle iron. I took the done waffles out of the iron and transferred them to the oven to stay warm.

Batter should be lumpy. 
I LOVE my double waffle maker!

Sadly, this cooking adventure took a bad turn, and I don't have any pictures of the rest of the process or the finished product. The kids love canned fruit, but I hardly ever buy it. Since April was cooking breakfast, I splurged and bought canned peaches and mandarin oranges. April successfully opened and poured three cans of mandarin oranges into the serving bowl. But the peaches got her. :( As she was preparing to pour the peaches into the bowl, she sliced her thumb on the open can lid. It was a pretty clean cut, such that it took her a few seconds to realize what happened and it didn't start to bleed right away. But once it started bleeding, it bled and bled. After washing her up, wiping her tears, and applying a band-aid, I finished making dinner by myself while she rested on the couch.

Even though April's waffle night didn't end as planned, we still had a delicious breakfast dinner and she had a great time working in the kitchen up until her injury. Despite the painful experience, she's looking forward to her next turn to cook dinner. And because of her painful experience, I know she'll be extra careful with cans from now on.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Clark Summer Cooking Adventures, Part 1: Koda's Mac 'n Cheese

This is the best fact I could get out of him, silly boy.

It's summer! And that means my (Sumiko's) kids will be doing the cooking! Each kid is in charge of cooking and cleaning up dinner one night each week. Of course, they have Mom's help and guidance, but I let them do as much of it as they can.

Making the roux.

First week's meals are as follows:
Koda: stove-top mac 'n cheese
Keanna: penne rigate with creamy pesto and Japanese cucumber salad
April: waffles
Lukas: chimichangas and bean dip (he's my burrito boy!)

We started last night with Koda's mac 'n cheese. You can find the recipe on my baked mac 'n cheese post. The kid-preferred stove-top variation is mentioned toward the bottom.

One thing that I love about cooking is that it is a great teaching opportunity. As we cooked, we talked about the science behind what we were doing. Why do we add flour to the cheese sauce? To thicken it. How does flour thicken things? The individual flour granules act like little sponges--they soak up the liquid and swell up. Why do we stir the flour into the butter rather than just mix it directly into the milk? To separate the flour granules before they swell so we don't end up with lumpy cheese sauce. I love it! I get one-on-one time with one child, dinner gets made, they learn a life skill, and they learn the concepts behind cooking so they can apply them to other dishes.

Another great benefit of having the kids cook for everyone else is that it teaches them to serve and be grateful. Koda was so happy to make macaroni and cheese for his family. And they were so appreciative. Every other kid complimented him on his dish without prompting. My heart swelled as I sat at the dinner table and heard the kids showing love to each other. Having the kids cook means more time prepping dinner and more mess, but it is a small price to pay for the character rewards gleaned.

Proud of his accomplishment!

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