Monday, October 24, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen

My darling daughter celebrated her seventh birthday this past weekend. She chose a party at the movie theatre and invited the girls from her class at school. Like many mothers, I am shocked by the types of parties that kids have today, the amount of money that is spent on them and the value of the loot bags. But that is a topic for another day.

We all know how important the selection of a cake is for our children. My daughter spent a great deal of time perusing a book called Birthday Cakes for Kids. All of the ideas in the book are relatively simple, thank goodness, because I have no experience with creating fancy iced cakes. She considered the options, debated them with her brother and finally decided on the Lollipop Garden Bouquet cake.

Keeping it Simple

To keep things simple on a very busy day, I used an organic chocolate cake mix and purchased some icing (although I found the ingredients absolutely frightening). Once the cake had cooled, the fun began. Both of the kids got involved with spreading on the icing, laying down some “soil” (blended chocolate cookies), putting on the candy and making “leaves” for the lollipop “flowers” out of green leathery candy. We added some gummy worms, emerging from the dirt, since it is a garden cake and Halloween is fast approaching.

Kids in the Kitchen

Although I have read many parenting and nutrition articles that tell us how important it is to get kids involved in the kitchen, I have to admit I am more comfortable doing things quickly and efficiently on my own. I try to involve them in baking whenever possible, but I have to bite my tongue when flour starts flying around the room. For the most part, it’s my daughter who wants to help, but lately my son (who is nine) has started to enjoy making tea, and he often makes me a cup. I always accept his offers of tea, even if I don’t want it, because he is so proud to do it, and his offering is a cherished display of affection.

So, as we decorated the cake, I tried as best I could to suppress the urge to “fix” their work. They couldn’t have been happier about the fact that the cake was loaded with candy, and my son pronounced it the “best cake I have ever seen.” We all had a quiet moment admiring it together before we moved on to the whirlwind of activities preceding the party.

The Jaded Cook

In Mitten Strings for God, Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, author Katrina Kenison notes, "The media tells us that cooking is drudgery. What better way to sell more fast foods and heat-and-serve dinners than to convince us to stay out of the kitchen? Or at least to get in and out of there fast! But children know better. They are drawn instinctively to the warmth of the hearth and the magic doings that go on there. If you have become a jaded cook, just hand over your wooden spoon to the nearest child and ask for help…They are delighted to offer their services, for they know, of course, that cooking is play. Best of all, though, it is play that results in something good to eat. Surely making food from scratch is one of childhood’s simplest pleasures—and the source of a great sense of accomplishment as well."

She adds, “If we go about our own tasks with joy and mindfulness, our children grow up knowing how to take pride in their work. They will come to love the challenges life sets before them, rather than avoiding them. If we make light of the chores that must be done, children learn that work can be play.”


  1. What a sweet birthday cake and a very lovely quote! My kids too enjoy the kitchen immensely:)

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