Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Now We're Cookin'

In the late afternoons when I get ready to start supper, I inevitably have to find some way to keep Alex occupied, mainly for fear that he'll make his way upstairs and try to flush Rescue Heroes down the toilet or slip out the back door and befriend our neighbors two streets over. So I usually pull a chair up close to wherever I'm chopping or stirring, fix him a sippy cup filled with the delicious beverage of his choice, and let him play with various and sundry kitchen utensils. But not knives. We have a strict no knives policy due to the "cutting" and "stabbing" that can occur.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've given Alex "tasks" while I'm cooking, like dicing onions or slicing potatoes. Oh I'm kidding - did you people not read about our strict "no knives for toddlers" policy? Seriously, I let him push the button on the food processor, or I ask him to get the cheese out of the refrigerator, and this past weekend I even showed him how to crack an egg. He is game for whatever - just as long as I don't try to keep him out of the kitchen.

Tonight I made beef stroganoff, and since it's not a recipe that depends on exact measurements, I asked Alex if he wanted to season the flour I would be using to dredge the meat.

"OKAY, MAMA! Want dinosaur?"

"Dinosaur" is Alex's little apron (featuring, oddly enough, a dinosaur decal on the front) that Publix sent him on his third birthday (join their Kids Club if you haven't...they send great gifts for kids, all in the name of suck-them-in-while-they're-young marketing).

So I tied "dinosaur" around his neck and waist, and then I started handing him seasonings: paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Greek seasoning, etc. Based on his reaction, I may be creating a bit of a culinary monster.

He poured and he stirred and he poured some more. I had to take out a little of the garlic powder (he got a little heavy-handed with it), but I must say that by and large his seasoning instincts were outstanding. :-) I also let him season the meat with salt and pepper, but that big bowl of flour held his attention...he wanted to put "more, Mama! More!" into the mix.

Everything actually turned out great taste-wise, and as we ate our supper tonight, Alex told his daddy all about the "pepper-ika" and how he "stirred the bowl" and how "yeah, yessir, I help Mama with supper."

I just wanted to freeze time at that very second and savor the moment where a three year old would have the world's sweetest smile on his face because he got to spend a little time standing on a chair, wearing a promotional item from a grocery store, mixing not even 50 cents worth of ingredients together, and loving every single second of it all.

It's the little things, as y'all know.


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