Friday, January 28, 2011

A weekend in the kitchen: episode two

A weekend in the kitchen continues on with a story about my Sam. When he heard that Alina was cooking dinner and she could choose the menu, he wanted to be a part of it too. I told him he could cook the next evening and could choose what ever he would like.

His menu:
Salad with homemade ranch dressing and croutons
Spaghetti with sauce only (no meat)
Garlic bread sticks

Sam is not one to stay in the kitchen long. How ever long it takes to ask "what are we having for dinner and how long until it's ready" is the duration of his time in the kitchen. He will help now and then, but he'd rather go play nerf guns. Again, no forcing him to be in the kitchen so when he offers to help, I gladly accept.

So we started with the croutons first. I asked him to get the bread out of the freezer. Check. I asked him to find a baking sheet. His words, "don't tell me, I want to find it on my own." So I kept my lips closed. He looked through all the drawers and even the other pantry. I could tell he was getting frustrated so I asked if he'd like a hint, got the nod, and pointed to the cupboard door the baking items are in. Baking sheet? Check.

My next words were, " we're going to cut the bread for the croutons." He immediately picked up a knife and started sawing the bread that we were going to use for the garlic bread (no garlic bread sticks...but instead a french loaf we would turn into garlic bread). I steered him to the sandwich bread, showed him how to cut the cubes and let him take over. He threw the cubes into a bowl and tossed them while I poured a bit of olive oil over them and shook on some garlic powder. I then said, "dump them on the baking sheet and spread them around." He proceeded to take them out of the bowl one by one and placed them in rows on the sheet. I told him that that would take forever, but he was determined to do it. When he finished he said, "See mom? I'm done! And you said it would take forever!" Ahhh Sam. I love you.

Next up, ranch dressing. We threw it all in the food processor and he taste tested the dressing until it was just right. Into the fridge it went to marry. Check.

Onto dessert. I explained that we wanted to get the dessert done before we finished making dinner so it would be all ready to go after we were done eating dinner. I suggested chocolate chip cookie sandwiches. He was all over that. So I pulled out my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and we began. We melted the butter and measured the white sugar. I then said, "we now need a cup of brown sugar" to which he enthusiastically said OK! and proceeded to open the bottom drawer and pulled out a drinking cup. I kept forgetting that he takes things literally. I re-explained my words adding "measuring cup" and got the "oooohhhhhh!" The dough was ready to go and I showed him how to roll the cookies like a ball, pull apart and put back together. He totally got it and into the oven the cookies went.

Garlic bread was cut and buttered and he generously applied the garlic powder. Generously being the key word.

Next was a short conversation.
Me:"Ok. Now we need to get the noodles and sauce going."
Sam: "Mom? Is this when we take a break? I'm tired!"
Me (chuckling): "Welcome to my world Sam. This is how dinner gets on the table every night. I wish it magically appeared, but it doesn't."
Sam (smiling): "Yeah, I know, but it's sure a lot of work!"
Yes my son, yes it is.

So we continued on and he decided that he didn't want a salad after all, but apples (Alina was in agreement). So I helped him with the apple cutter and he then proceeded to cut the skin off of each piece of apple. I thought he would've stopped halfway through, but he did every piece without complaint and was pretty proud of his work. While he was doing that, I finished up the noodles and sauce and started to plate the food.

The cookies finished in the oven and he took them out. Once cooled I said, "Sam, one of the greatest things of working in the kitchen is that you get to taste the food you created before everyone else, just to make sure it tastes good." I picked up a big cookie, broke it in half and gave half to him. He looked at me like I was giving him a treasure and said, "seriously??". We munched on warm cookies and declared they were fit for eating.

Dinner was ready. While putting the apples on plates I said to him, "so after dinner you can come and do all the dishes." I received a "WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!" I explained that the dishes don't clean themselves and the kitchen needs to be cleaned up. I then broke into laughter and said, "of course you don't have to do the dishes Sam. I'm so glad you were in the kitchen with me tonight. I'm more than happy to do the dishes." I could see the relief in his eyes and the smile on his lips. Joking with a nine year old is a whole lot of fun.

Dinner took about an hour and a half to make. I'll be honest and say that it wasn't easy for me. There was a lot of patience on my part of not taking over for him, but letting him experience kitchen life. And there was a lot of building up too. Hearing several times, "I'm not good at this" was a chance to build up his self confidence as I know he takes those encouraging words and tucks them into his heart. It was a ton of fun joking around with Sam and I think he experienced a bit of what goes into me making dinner each night for our family. I wouldn't have traded this experience for anything.

And our weekend in the kitchen comes to a close. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will not be the last one.


Valerie said...

Yep. You're awesome. Sam's a treasure, even more than your cookies.

anne said...

You're such a great mom. What great instruction you give.

Lyndsay said...

Wow. I NEVER let my kids help with dinner cause I'm super impatient with them, but reading that encouraged me to give it a try. Thanks friend!