20 JunFingers in the Batter

M & I have been cooking dinner a lot together lately. When she’s not busy being rock star grrrl or dancing grrrl, she tells me she wants to be a chef. Mostly I think she wants to help do grown up things (not involving picking up toys). I admit to taking a little bit of advantage of this and “allowing” her to clean my sink. I have the cleanest sinks in the entire western hemisphere. Or maybe just the soapiest.

We bought her a cookbook. Yes, it’s by Emeril, because the Naked Chef doesn’t have one out for kids yet. Her favorite is the chicken nuggets, from scratch, with the honey mustard dipping sauce. One of these nights we’re going to try the fish sticks too.

Tonight though, we made gazpacho & a greek pasta salad with orzo & feta. I love having homegrown herbs at my fingertips. My oregano is growing wild at the moment, out of control. I cut everything up, Marian put everything in the blender except the onions because “they sting, Mommy.” I let her sip the V-8 before it went in the gazpacho, she didn’t like it. I didn’t think she would. I hoped she would like the gazpacho. We mixed the soup up, then I let her taste it again. She looked at me, and with a heart-melting smile said, so sincerely, “Oh Mommy, that’s Fabulous Soup!”

We repeated the ‘I cut, you put it in’ routine for the salad. She snapped the baby corns in half, dumped the olives & artichokes in, stirred everything up. Then came the fun parts. Orzo is rice-sized “grains” of pasta. I drained it, then let it sit in cold water with ice cubes, stirring the ice cubes into the warm spots & letting the ice sit, then stirring the ice around again to the next warm spot. The only way to find the warm spots is by using your hands, so there was my hand and two little “helping” hands in the orzo. Once we got rinsed off, it was time to crumble the feta. We bought fresh feta at the co-op last weekend. Oh, it was sweet, and faintly salty, and so creamy. I could have sat and just eaten the whole block, and I think M would have joined me… but we were good, except for a chunk or two, here or there. We crumbled it by hand, making a fine and creamy mess of our hands.

I love cooking. I find it very centering. Very soothing. It is creative and functional at the same time. I love the physical aspects of preparing food; the crunching and kneading and slicing and scraping — and smelling and tasting… I love cooking with M. I love watching her as she experiences raw food becoming prepared food. Trying an uncooked spaghetti noodle, or taking a bite of raw corn on the cob, stealing fresh strawberries or an olive when she thinks I’m not looking. Somehow, cooking with a child is a new revelation every time. Even when there are too many fingers in the batter, there are never too many cooks in the kitchen.

4 Responses to “Fingers in the Batter”

  1. Maia says:

    I was going to bed. But now I’m hungry. Another nice one, Susan.

  2. suess says:

    I have just emerged from the kitchen with my almost three year old as helper, and I couldn’t agree with your perspective more!
    PS: I want to come to dinner!

  3. Susan says:

    Anytime you want to come over for dinner, just let me know when you’ll be in town! ;)

  4. Lisa says:

    This is a nice one – brings me back to when my son (now 14) was that age & cooked with me. He still cooks with me sometimes, but now he’s bossy. He is a kick-ass sous-chef, though, so it’s a good investment of your time (as well as being a lot of fun).

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