buddy has been in the kitchen since day one. or two, to be exact. he was tied to me the day after he was born, helping me make dinner. my kids love to help, and they are of an age where they actually are helping now.
last year i taught moonpie how to peel and cut veggies and fruit. this has been a major time saver for me! she's even using real knives now (disclaimer: i am very near to her during this time, reminding her to hold the knife or the food correctly). buddy is now helping out with cutting, using his 'safe knife' (that's a butter knife to you and me).
yesterday, after quiet time, moonpie requested that we make something. her exact words were 'i really just want to work with dough'. i asked which recipe she wanted me to get down and she replied 'none. i just want to do it my way'. ok. she told me the ingredients she wanted (oats, whole wheat flour, evaporated cane juice, butter, peanut butter and daddy's secret stash of chocolate chips. no secret, apparently) and that she needed one of my 'granola pans'. i got out a variety of measuring cups and she went to work. after the kids ate most of the dough, they rolled the rest into little balls. we pressed them flat and i stuck them in the oven. when they smelled done, we pulled them out. and, much to my amazement, they looked like real cookies. after they cooled, we each ate one. i couldn't believe it. they were good! i mean, really good! and oh so sweet. i asked her how much evap. cane juice she used and her response was 'umm...quite a bit'. uh, yeah, that sounds right. when john got home, he was presented a plate of cookies. he, being the good daddy he is, picked one up to sample. he whispered over to me 'you really made these, right?'. nope. he called her a phenom for the rest of the night. he couldn't believe that she could figure out the ratio of each ingredient.
thinking back to moonpie's first attempt in the kitchen, and then the many after that, i can agree with my friend. cooking with children is messy. it's time consuming and never error proof. sometimes there are carrots that are cut thicker than others, and sometimes flour ends up on the floor, but we're cooking up more than wednesday night pizza. you know what i mean? doing life with my kids is way more important to me than speedy meals and a spotless kitchen. and look at the fruit- a five year old who knows her way around the kitchen. one that is not afraid to create something out of nothing. and that to me is worth every late dinner and every stain on my counter top.