Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cooking with Cora

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. 


Sherry said...

Babies are wonderful, I love my three grands more than I EVER thought possible.........I sure enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing....... Sherry

Average Jane said...

That reminds me of cooking with my grandmother. After she poured vanilla out of the measuring spoon she would always dab some behind each ear and invite me to do the same. She said it was the "cook's perfume." I still do that to this day when I bake with vanilla extract.

Jon said...

Some of my fondest early childhood memories were that of watching my grandmother cook her wonderful Hungarian food in the kitchen. I'm sure that you will provide Cora with similar memories.

I love pumpkin pie and squash pie.

Margaret said...

What a perfect solution and Cora learns a lot from the talking, the feeling and the smelling! And there is a delicious pie at the end!

Rita Mosquita said...

When my daughter was small, I would sit her in the kitchen sink. She always wanted to help. I would let her try to stir when she was a little older. When she was able, I would let her pour things into whatever I was cooking. By the time she was three, she was learning to crack eggs and could pretty much do much to help cook. She could make a boxed muffin mix except for putting it in and taking it out of the oven. She was not always the tidiest, but has developed into an excellent and confident cook.


you are right. "Smiles are indeed contagious."

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I have used that trick many times. Both with my own and now with the grands. Sometimes I give them the plastic measuring cups and some other utensils to bang on the tray of the high chair too. Cheerios are always a good treat for them too. Smiles are contagious and you've made me smile this morning!