At the beginning of the month, my wonderful friend Leslie made a request for posts featuring kid-friendly recipes. Far be it from me to put words in her mouth, but I think what she was hoping for was something along the lines of "things I can cook with my kid wherein I can both let said child feel as if they're really doing it themselves, but at the same time not have my kitchen look as if it hosted a demonstration of small explosives when they're done." This and the next couple of post will have a few ideas, and I may post a few more in the future, as we stumble across them.
Speaking for myself, because I know none of you are perfectionist control-freaks (right?), I kind of have a hard time just BACKING OFF in the kitchen and letting Bella, figuratively and literally, break her own eggs. I'm always right on the edge of the "Here, just let me do that" precipice, and it takes monumental restraint for me to step off. Yes, they're going to make messes, and yes, they're going to maybe mess things up a little bit. But you know what I'm learning? I'm finding that the feeling of accomplishment my little one has in the finished product FAR outweighs whatever mess she makes in getting there. That beaming smile as she tells her daddy, "I MADE that!" is definitely worth the time it takes to fish a little eggshell out of some batter.
Speaking of eggshell in batter, I think that my first real, "you can make this all by yourself" food that I gave over to Bella was pancakes. There's really no reason a kid age 5 or older can't handle this, with a little adult supervision. It involves her favorite things: Stirring, measuring, and pouring. Pancakes are so simple. Google for your favorite recipe...there's a million of 'em out there, and generally speaking, you can use just about any kind of flour. Bella and I like buckwheat flour, but Alex doesn't, so sometimes we compromise with a 50/50 blend...or we just leave him out. Or we don't tell him what's in them. Whatever. I can share our "perfect pancake" recipe, though. It has worked out really well for us.
1 cup flour
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. baking POWDER
1/2 tsp. baking SODA
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (seriously, must be buttermilk, or whey left over from cheesemaking)
2 tablespoons melted butter or substitute (this eliminates having to butter the pancakes, too)
Sift together the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Kids LOVE using a sifter, and Bella even has a kid-sized one that she can grip easily. Let them do the measuring, and show them how to level off a teaspoon with the back of a butter knife--those little details make Bella feel REALLY accomplished.
Add wet ingredients, stir or whisk lightly (Bella loves that whisk, and also has a little one of those), just to blend. Do not over-stir.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out 1/4 cup of batter at a time, and pour it onto a hot griddle. Let the child do it even if it means the pancakes are shaped like amoebas. They don't care. We had the best luck just using a dry non-stick cooking surface, no Pam or anything. Show your child how to watch for bubbles in the center of each pancake, to know it's time to flip them. Set the heat to medium, no higher. It takes longer, but increases your chance of getting that perfect, golden color and smooth consistency. The only thing you might have to help with is the turning, but let 'em try. So what if some of the uncooked batter slops over.
When Bella's first three pancakes came out of the skillet, it was like she'd just painted the Sistine Chapel, she was so proud. As a matter of fact, she abandoned me with the rest of the batter, and went to consume the fruits of her labors--and THEN came back for the next three! Making each pancake small is another hint to decreasing the chance of mistakes. This recipe makes about a dozen 4" pancakes. Another idea is to make a double batch of batter and cook a bunch of pancakes to store in the freezer. Pop 'em in the toaster or microwave for a fast breakfast or snack later. Bella and I are now firm pancake aficionados.