My daughter and Mom have had a special bond from an early age and I think baking might have played a part in it. My daughter was always fascinated with the way Mom cracked eggs. To extract the best giggle from a child, place one egg within their hand and allow them to ‘bang’ an egg against the countertop surface hoping the hand will transport itself over the bowl fast enough catching the drippings. The free hand quickly finds itself in a clapped position attached to the egg, giving the child a very proud, “I did it myself” feeling as they have followed the directions and place the deflated egg over the bowl.
Toddlers may not be able to have a full vocabulary or dress themselves or even be potty trained, but they are ready to help in the kitchen. Teaching them about colors using vegetables and how to wash vegetables is a great lesson. If you really want to spend some quality time in the kitchen, I recommend gnocchi. Take one bag of instant mashed potatoes and add to it 1 cup of flour and 1 egg. (this is the shortened version. If you want the full version, there is a great recipe below from #tasteofhome) Let the dough cool. Then divide dough into 4 portions and on a floured surface, let your child roll the dough into ‘ropes’ and you can cut them into thumb-size bites. Let them set until firm. Bring water to boiling and drop gnocchi into water. Serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese. OR you can make these ahead and freeze. Either way, your child and you spend some quality time in the kitchen having fun.
Last summer as my daughter was older, Mom got out the spaghetti machine. This time my daughter knew the physics behind cracking an egg: rapping it sharply against the edge of a bowl with a one, two, three, CRACK! She still needed Mom to help make sure no shells were in the bowl, but the break was clean.
Then Mom said to me, “you know what is interesting about an egg. It is like tough love. An egg is fragile. You are afraid to handle it, except with gentle hands. But the shell is amazingly tough. If you crack it, you must be swift and rap it firm for a pure break. If you have a wimpy wrist break, you will lose control of the egg and shell. Being a parent is no easy task and your child is your egg. Sometimes you must be firm so that the break falls into place rather than scrambled.
The reality is, as a parent, if we are honest, we are more in line as contestants to the baking show, “Nailed IT”. This is where professionals bring their high-end cakes and bakery items for greenhorns to replicate and a chance to win 10K. I have yet to see anyone come close to perfection which is my point. It takes practice cracking several eggs before you can get it right. We do not all start out as head chef. It takes practice and time to learn any technique – even the art of cracking an egg. However, along the way, we have perfected the art of giggling. My Mom sang these lyrics to my daughter which tells how much giggling is important:
One, Two, Three, Four
Giggling and Giggling, Out the Door
Five, Six, Seven, Eight
Laughing So Hard We Can’t See Straight.
And We’re Giggling, We’re Giggling, We’re Giggling Out the Door
Giggling, Giggling, Giggling Out the Door.
Nine and Ten, the Funs about to End…….
But We Giggled and Giggled and Giggled and Giggled and Giggled out the Door!!!