Kitchen - noun a room or area where food is prepared and cooked.
But we all know, it is so much more than that. There are traditions, childhood memories, family recipes, tastes, opinions, laughter and so much more. Before she was Let's Dress Up's resident Fairy Godmother, Judy spent years cooking huge meals to try and feed her 2 growing sons (and their respective hockey teams). I, on the other hand, am not such a good cook, but I do love to bake. The frustrating precision, the delicious smells, licking the bowl. And it is something I especially love to do with my daughter. I feel like it ties in so nicely with kids activity ideas and our tea party themes, so it was the perfect topic for our next Blog post. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for specific recipes and ideas.
First, I would say I think it's important to have a few go-to recipes that work every - single - time. Whether it's a cookie swap, hostess gift or for entertaining. Knowing you have a tried and true, no fuss recipe (where you may even have most of the ingredients on hand) takes the stress out of it. I also like to have some tins and tupperwares on hand for easy storage and transport.
Here are our top tips for baking with kids:
- Make sure you are in the mood. We don't recommend a baking project when you are tired, pressed for time or have just spent hours cleaning the kitchen.
- Be prepared. Kids have no patience. Have ingredients and utensils at your fingertips. Pre read the recipe for instructions like "put dough in the fridge for 30 minutes", bake for one hour, etc so you can plan accordingly. Decide if they will be able to eat it right out of the oven (or you will spend a lot of time and energy arguing over having M&M Cookies for breakfast).
- Delegate. Especially with young kids, think through the tasks that they can be in charge of. Bring a stool into the kitchen for them to reach the counter or set up a station at the dining room table. If you have multiple kids, make sure each one gets a job or a turn.
- Make it educational. Whether it's the reading and measurements for older kids, or the smells and tastes of the ingredients, how the wet and dry interact, baking times, etc. Ask them what they think will happen next or why they think you do it a certain way.
- Recap as you sample the finished product. Assess what went right, what you might change...for example next time I would add less chocolate chips (said no kid ever). I would cook longer or take out sooner and why. Make notes on the recipe.
- Find cookbooks, chefs and resources that match your palate and skill level. We love, love, love the Joy of cooking, so classic and a great reference for everything under the sun. Or get a cookbook written for kids (check one out of the library so you don't have to buy it). Also check and see if your favorite bakeries have at home mixes or kits.
And remember, it doesn't always have to be a huge project, you can ice cookies that are already made, melt chocolate and dip strawberries, the other day we made a float with raspberry sherbet and whip cream and you would have thought my daughter won the lottery with how excited she was about it. Just simple and fun together moments to give us something to do in these trying times. (In a subsequent post I will address how I plan to keep wearing elastic waist pants for eternity).
Life is short, eat dessert first.