Such A Kneady Boy
I’ve said before I love to cook. I do. And being here with all kinds of new ingredients, especially ones so fresh, makes me very happy. But I detest baking. Baking and cooking are two completely different animals. When I make pasta sauce if I like garlic, more garlic goes in. Don’t have black olives? No problem, its still pasta sauce. Salt, pepper, oregano, and basil all to taste. Yes there are recipes but they are more like vague guidelines. Not so with baking. With baking there are strict rules. Ingredients must be weighed and measures precisely. Hell professional bakers don’t even call them recipes, they are formulas. Because in essence, good baking is not cooking, its chemistry. I am in no way anal retentive enough to be a good baker. There is, however, one exception to this in the baking world….bread. Bread is very forgiving. Water, yeast, flour, and salt are all you need for basic bread. Sugar may be added, and the ratios of salt/yeast/flour are fluid within a small window. Since I have a lot of time on my hands I decided to try to make bread. Its tastier than store bought, and cheaper.
Again though I didn’t factor the boy into my decision at first. I should have, knowing how much he likes to “help” me in the kitchen. Help, hinder, they both start with H right? He loves to help. To get in the way, get his hands dirty, and be part of producing the meals. Nine times out of ten I am all for him helping. This was one of those nine. I started getting the dough together and I heard behind me
“Whatcha doin Daddy?”.
“Making bread buddy”
“I’ll go get my stool, I need to help you”
And so began our odyssey in baking. We’ve so far made rolls, white bread, wheat bread, and challa bread. Emmet mixes the dough and helps me knead it. He thinks pounding and folding the dough is the most fun cooking thing he’s done so far. Coming in a very close second is punching the dough down after it has risen. On a trip to a culinary supply store a few days ago he even disappeared in the store only to come running around the corner with a tiny little Emmet sized rolling pin. He is very excited to help me make a pie crust for pork pies soon. Until he is old enough to wield a knife or peeler in support of our dinner I think our bread baking will be the kitchen task that he is able to do the most for. Good news is he loves it. From the bubbling yeast to the golden topped loaves that leave our little oven, my tiny sous chef helps. And he is proud of his work. When Mommy wakes up for dinner and comments on how good the house smells (because let’s face it does anything smell better in a house than fresh baked bread?) Emmet proudly proclaims “Me and Daddy made more bread!”. And that totally makes the extra time and cleanup worth it. Seeing him take ownership and pride in his part is awesome. Its only going to get better as he gets older and can help more. And its pretty awesome.
He’s pretty proud of himself in the kitchen. It sometimes takes a little imagination on my part to figure out what I can have him do and still be able to get dinner out in less than three hours. If its breakfast time he mixes eggs while I make hashbrowns. Lunch he is my go to guy for opening and then putting lids back on peanut butter and jelly. Dinners tend to be more difficult, but tearing lettuce for a salad is always a good standby. I encourage everyone to cook with a kid. If you don’t have one, borrow one. Its messy, and frustrating at times, and not going to be a five star affair, but seeing their little faces beam with accomplishment is very very cool.