Monday, September 29, 2008
Rosa in the Kitchen
For over a year Rosa has had an apron and a chef hat. She often asks to wear them so she can “make” soup or pasta with a bowl and spoon I’ve given her to play with.
But on Friday I decided it was finally time for Rosa to participate in the kitchen – just add some ingredients to a bowl, maybe help me stir. Cookies seemed to be the natural, homiest choice. I found a simple recipe in my Dorie for midnight crackles: chocolate gingerbread cookies. I put on an apron, and dressed Rosa in her apron and chef hat. She asked that I don my chef hat as well, so I did.
I stood Rosa on a chair and we go to work. I measured the dry ingredients and then, with my help, she dropped them into a mixing bowl. She taste tested the chocolate for me – a very important job. Everything was going great…until I made one little mistake: suggesting she smell the ground cloves.
I love having Rosa smell ingredients, especially fresh herbs and ground spices. I think it connects her to what we’re going to eat and opens up her senses to aromas she never before dreamed of, from mint leaves and cinnamon, to fennel and pomegranate molasses.
The ground cloves were beautiful and fragrant; to me they smell like Christmas. But, the jar was new, and the cloves were filled to the brim. And, I forgot that often when she smells something Rosa breathes out first, with a big burst of air. Soooo she blew air from her nose, and in an instant ground cloves covered her face and the countertop. She started to cry, startled for sure, but I think she also inhaled some cloves, which I’m sure wasn’t a pleasant experience. I quickly cleaned her off and gave her kisses. A second tasting of the chocolate helped ease any lingering discomfort. But, that was the end of Rosa’s helping that day (and despite baths, she smelled like cloves for the next 48 hours).
Happily, the midnight crackle cookies turned out wonderfully: dark, velvety and moist. Overall, Rosa enjoyed her first of what will surely be many baking experiences. And I learned a valuable lesson: only ask a two year-old to smell something that is guaranteed not to blow away.