{good eats} cooking with the littles (orange cake!)

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started cooking more with Addie.  I’ve always cooked with the Littles, but I’m trying to let Addie be more a part of the process in deciding things to make, in trying new things, and in doing more than just handing her something  she can “dump in the bowl”.

Being 3-1/2 and also going to preschool 2 days a week has somehow catapulted her into this whole new learning arena.  She’s like a sponge! Crazy how fast that happens…one day they are your baby, the next, their asking for the car keys…WHA?? HUH??!?!?

Addie doesn’t really take naps anymore, more like quiet time with her books or a show while her sisters sleep…….And sometimes I like to play hookie from responsibility and take the moment to sit with her (you just have to sometimes – emails and laundry will always be there, but your baby wont always be 3-1/2).  When I do sit with her, she usually asks to watch a cooking show (Much to my delight!!  Dora or Food Network? Oh thank you Addie!).  We’ll watch a show (She loves Giada since her daughter Jade is often on the show – Addie is begging me to have Jade over for a play date….hmmmm let me see how I might do that….).

Anywhooo Giada usually makes 2 or 3 things and out of the blue Addie will say,That ‘X’ looks good Mommy.  Do we have all the stuff? Can we make it for Daddy?”.

Without batting an eye, I’ll say yes.

The reason I don’t hesitate is that whatever she has asked to make might be my one shot to get Addie (or our family) to try whatever the item is.

The first time it happened, it was for Balsamic Glazed Salmon. The salmon was being shown as a fast weeknight meal. For the record I don’t really like fish (but Hubs adores it) so its not made often. I quickly texted him to bring some salmon home and I think he fell off his chair at work. But he did, and Addie and I made it…and you know what? It is now one of our entire family’s FAVORITE dinners! Kid you not, FAVORITE! (we serve it with coconut rice and edamame).

Another time it was for Carrot Cake (which is now my most favorite Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe), and Ina Garten’s Pesto Pasta Salad (the Little Punks eat this by the pound. I substitute edamame for the peas.).  Most recently, we tried an Orange and Strawberry Cake. (Recipe called for Raspberry Jam, we had Strawberry).

I don’t really need to spell out why this is so fun to do with your kids and why they (and you) will gain so much from it. But I will say this, I know I get in a rut sometimes, kind of like that favorite black skirt that you know always works, so you always turn to it (more than we probably should)...I do that with the kids sometimes. Serve the same meals, pull out the same crafts, grab their same outfits. But I forget sometimes that the Little Punks are growing and learning and doing, and are forming minds of their own which can both give an opinion and HELP contribute ideas for our family.

When Addie chose the Orange and Strawberry Cake to make, she helped me gather the ingredients, measure and stir, and pour things in the pan.

About the time I needed to make dinner, the cake was ready to frost. I set it out on the counter with  Addie (3-1/2) & Hay (2-1/2),  and helped them get it ready to frost, then walked away.

The cake frosting task would occupy them while I finished making dinner, so I resolved to be ok with whatever happened (my Type A personality wondered what it would look like….).

Shortly into it, Addie asked for the raspberries that Giada had used to place around the cake.  I didn’t have any, but I gave her some cute little heart candies that I did have, and again turned back to dinner.

When she asked me to turn the cake around to do the other side, I was shocked.

Me: “Honey? Were you helping the girls with the cake?”

Hubs: “No, what, huh? No, I was watching TV….”

It sounds silly, but when I looked at the cake, I saw a happy scattering of heart candies from Hay on top, and a PERFECTLY STRAIGHT, LINED UP WITH PERFECTION circle of candies wrapped around the cake, JUST LIKE THE RASPBERRIES HAD BEEN PLACED ON THE SHOW…who knew a cooking show could teach a 3-1/2 year old?!!?

The girls were so excited about their cake. And Addie was very protective of her circle of heart candies.

And you know what, it tasted pretty dang delicious too! Yet another great find.

So my tip for you is to both remember that your Littles are little, but also remember that they are big and growing. Try something new with them, they might just surprise you, AND you might find a few new favorites along the way!

2 thoughts on “{good eats} cooking with the littles (orange cake!)”

  1. The cake looks delicious! My son LOVES Giada too. We often spend our “quiet” time watching Giada or Ina. He really started to get into it when we got him his own apron and set of kid safe utensils. We keep his utensil crock right next to mine on the counter. And we make the farmer’s market a weekly event. Such great memories!

  2. I always let my daughter measure the brown sugar. She is 2 1/2 so it’s a lot like a sand castle to her. I learned to use a small cookie sheet under the measuring cups to catch errant sugar. Still messy, but we enjoy the time together.

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