The Five Stages of Cooking with a Toddler

1

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking with C lately. It keeps us both busy during these frigid winter days, and I’m hoping it fosters an appreciation for preparing healthy, homemade food. But whoa, is it a process. If you have cooked or baked with a toddler before, you will be familiar with the stages:

1) Preparation. So much preparation. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, it takes a lot of prep before I even get C involved in the cooking/baking process. At 2 1/2, lives are busy and attention spans are short. I get all my ingredients out and ready to go before I move on to stage two, which is:

2) Manufacturing excitement. Toddlers generally like to help in the kitchen, but I’ve found that excitement for the finished product has to be manufactured in order to get C to stick with the task long enough to actually get something into the oven. A lot of cheerleading goes on. We’re baking! B-A-K-I-N-G ! Wooooo baking!

Pumped up!

Pumped up!

3) Explanation. Beyond simply telling C how many cups of this or tablespoons of that go into the mix, I have to explain why she can’t crunch eggs with her bare hands, why she can’t drink the vanilla extract, why she can’t wear the mixing bowls as hats, etc.

This stage leads to the next:

4) Minimizing kitchen disasters.

This is where anticipatory skills and cat-like reflexes come in, because despite the explanations, she will attempt to do some of the things listed above.

Watching it all go down

Watching it all go down

5) Praise. I’ve found that praise goes a long way. C’s behaviour is far more influenced by praise than by discipline, so we do our best to catch her doing good things as much as we can. It leads to better behaviour and a happier family.

And here is what we were making in these photos:

IMG_3922

Banana Pineapple Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour (I use half whole wheat)
3/4 cups white sugar (I put in less)
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter, but again, a little less)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (not drained)
1 large mashed banana

The original recipe is convoluted as all-get-out, so here is my version: Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix softened butter, 1 well-beaten egg, crushed pineapple and banana. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Fold together and do not overmix. Bake at 350 for 20 mins.

Advertisements

Homemade Italian Wedding Soup

2

One of my friends worked in Calgary, Alberta for a few years.  She gave me a cookbook from the Municipal District of Rocky View, with recipes contributed by municipal staff and local politicians.  I use it all the time, and it has some hidden gems inside.  It has an incredibly delicious cheesecake recipe submitted by the Honourable Ralph Klein.  The thought of King Ralph slaving over chocolate marble cheesecake amuses me for some reason.  Also, did you know that Stephen and Laureen Harper love Mexican food so much that they modify regular recipes, like lasagna, to make them more “Mexican”?  It’s true.

I adapted this recipe from the Rocky View cookbook is the latest big hit in our house.  Pete likes it, C enjoys the meatballs (the spinach, however, is thrown onto the floor) and I could probably eat it every day.  And who doesn’t love a hearty soup when it’s cold outside?

For the meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper

For the soup:

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup miniature pasta
  • 1 cup chopped frozen spinach (thawed and drained)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, beat the egg.  Add ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix.

Form the mixture into small meatballs (roughly the size of a marble).  Place meatballs on a baking sheet covered in tin foil.  Bake for 25 minutes.

In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil and add pasta.  Cook for five minutes at a low boil.  Add thawed and drained spinach and cook for another five minutes.  Add the meatballs and bring to a simmer.  Serve and enjoy!

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

4

This isn’t going to turn into a food blog, mostly because I’m not a very good cook and though I’m an enthusiastic baker, I’m far from a pro.  But I got a lot of great feedback from my homemade granola bars post, so I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes.  Bread pudding is simple but delicious, unassuming but comforting.  Whenever I bake it my relatives seem to come out of the woodwork.

This recipe is one I’ve adapted from my favourite cookbook, the unimaginatively yet aptly titled Cookbook ’78.  It’s one of those cookbooks compiled by a volunteer association.  This one from my hometown of Penetanguishene, Ontario.  I borrowed (or stole) it from my mom, and I use it all the time.  It’s a gem.  I’m being serious when I say this, because I love tons of recipes in this cookbook.  It also functions as a fun little time capsule.  I had no idea how much people loved to cook with Velveeta in the ’70s.

So here is the recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 8 slices white bread heavily buttered
  • 3 cups milk (the creamier the better)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Pack brown sugar in bottom of a baking dish, cut or break buttered bread into small pieces and place buttered side down on sugar.  Mix eggs, milk and vanilla.  Pour over bread.  Sprinkle raisins and cinnamon (optional) over bread pudding.  Place in preheated oven (300 degrees F) for 40 minutes or until puffy and light golden colour.  Serve warm.