I baked a butternut squash in the microwave this morning, with the intention of making a crustless pumpkin pie (yes, squash pie tastes the same as pumpkin). I use my favorite pumpkin-pie-filling recipe and add 1/2 cup of self-rising flour, skip the fat-heavy, calorie-laden crust, and feel a little better for trying to keep it light.
Lately when I'm doing stuff in the kitchen, Little Princess comes in and stretches her arms up for me to take her. Of course, it's hard to wash dishes or chop vegetables while holding a one-year-old child. And if I'm at the stove cooking, it's downright dangerous to hold her. Ah, the good old days when I simply slipped my shoulders into the Baby Bjorn carrier and packed her on the front of me like a kangaroo, leaving both of my hands free. Although that wasn't as problem-free as it might sound: Many's the time her constantly-kicking feet dealt a lucky blow to a dish, glass, or cup on the kitchen counter that then landed on the floor.
I mentioned to my daughter a while back that I was nervous about cooking with a baby in the kitchen at my feet, and I was at the point of having to make Cliff come in and keep her occupied while I fixed our noon meal. She told me that if I would put her in the high chair where she could actually watch what I was doing and perhaps gave her something to keep her hands busy, I would be able to get something done and the child would be contented.
Amazingly, it worked the first time I tried it. So today I put her in the high chair, handed her a spoon, put a few Cheerios on her tray, and started cooking at the counter in front of her. I kept up a constant dialogue, explaining each step as I did it: "Now I'm scraping the squash out of the skin...", "This is the mixer...", "I'm getting the sugar out...".
I got the sugar in a measuring cup, took the bowl of squash over to her, and let her watch me pour in the sugar. She raised herself up off her seat a little to see in the bowl, and then I took it back to the counter to use the mixer. I let her smell the cinnamon and ginger. I put a little flour on the high-chair tray so she could swirl it all over the place with her fingers. I took the eggs and a cup to the high chair, where she watched me crack the eggs and, later, add them to the mix.
As you can imagine, it took a lot longer than normal to make the pie, but I had so much fun showing her all this stuff, and didn't have to worry about what she was doing in another room, or listen to her fussing at my feet wanting me to pick her up.
I wish I had known this trick when my own two kids were small, but back then I didn't have nearly as much spare time to devote to making a pie, so who knows if I would have done it.
As I was doing this entry, Cora's grandma came to pick her up, so she left me earlier than usual today. She was still down for her nap, but she had been asleep for two hours, and I knew she would be charged up for playing with Grandma this evening; in fact, when I went to get her out of bed, her eyes were open.
She came here this morning with a smile on her face, and she left with Grandma, still smiling. It's no wonder Cliff and I smile so much more when she's around. Smiles, they say, are contagious.