Welcome back to the weekly 4 Moms post, in which 4 moms with a collective total of 35 children share our knowledge, experience and and helpful tips in maintaining health, order and sanity.
This week we’re talking about cooking with little ones. We don’t mean that in the same sense as when you cook with butter or onions. At least that’s not how I understood it when we agreed on the subject. Maybe you and I should visit the other 3 moms to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Oh, good. Now that’s settled, let’s move on.
I’ll just be upfront about something: I am a clean cook and a control freak. God has used my children to soften some of my rough edges, but I have also learned to work within my boundaries. When I cook with little ones, if we want to end the experience on a pleasant note and with happy memories, we have to follow a few ground rules.
Really, just one rule goes a long, long way: One helper at a time. There are a few events and recipes which lend themselves well to multiple participants, but in general this works best for us. The others can watch quietly, or they can wander off until I call them for their turn. I cannot abide a free-for-all shouting/squealing/shoving match in my kitchen with 4 or 5 short people jockeying for the stool closest to the mixing bowl. We all have more fun when we do it my way.
See? Isn’t she sweet and happy? Nobody has pushed her off the stool yet because I’m the only one in the kitchen with her.
“I’m stirring it with a spoon, Mom.”
The photographer insisted that we get the classic shot of big hand/little hand together on the spoon.
The photographer specified it must be a wooden spoon.
I’m actually not the only one in the kitchen, but you got the point didn’t you? Besides Bethany, the photographer and me, we also have an eager young cook. I don’t classify Becca with the little ones because she can cook on her own. She was either dying to help Bethany, or to get in the photos. She brushed her hair first, which seems like a good clue.
Bethany helped with the dry ingredients, then it was Perry’s turn. He specializes in cracking eggs. Just look at the level of concentration he puts into his egg-cracking assignments.
Now we’re stirring. Look: intense.
“Salt? Salt is gross! Why do you put salt in a cake?”
Rachael came on board once the batter was mixed.
She’s stirring too. I think the photographer was distracted by this point, because there are no photos of Rachael cutting up butter, chopping nuts, or licking the spatula.
She mixed up a streusel topping. Not everything we do is fancy, but when you’re inviting 3 separate helpers for the same recipe, having several distinct steps can help preserve the peace.
And here’s our streusel topped batter, ready to go in the oven.
We forgot to take another photo when it came out, but we’ll be enjoying the fruits of our labor for breakfast.
Want the recipe?
Apple Streusel Cake
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp. baking powder (we use 1 tsp baking soda plus a little vinegar in the milk)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 large can apple pie filling (we used a quart of homemade)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, butter, vanilla and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Spread half of batter in a buttered 9×13. Carefully spoon on apple pie filling, spreading as evenly as possible. Top with remaining batter.
For topping, combine 1/4 cup flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut in butter, then stir in nuts. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake 45-60 minutes at 350.
Did you notice that this post is mostly photos? That’s the biggest point I want to make about cooking with little ones. It’s not so much about what you make, as it is about working together and making memories. If everyone is smiling in the end, it’s a job well done. If it tastes good and your kitchen is clean, so much the better.
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms 35 Kids:
- February 17 – Spending individual time with your children: isn’t the very topic enough to make you feel guilty?
- February 24 – Q & A. Got a question? Leave it in the comments on my last Q&A post. Or you can email me, but I promise you right now I will lose your email and forget to answer your question for 15 months. By then, you probably will have found your own answer.