A few weeks ago, Davey and I caught a cooking show on t.v. For quite some time, the kitchen has been one of his favorite places. He’s learned more skills in his 4 short years on this earth, than I’ve learned in my nearly 41 years. After watching this show, Davey told me he’d like to have his own cooking show. I asked what he would call it and he said, “The Cooker Man Davey Show”. I’m not that great at graphics, nor am I that technologically savvy, but I did mount my camera on the tripod and after a brief review of how to operate the video function, I set us up to record a pilot episode of “The Cooker Man Davey Show”. Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I was able to download free software, one that helps technologically impaired dummies like me, and this was the result. Enjoy.
For some reason when my son refers to himself by using this sentence, I can’t help but think of the Beatles, “I am the Walrus”.
It has taken me becoming a mom to actually become a somewhat decent cook. The kitchen was never my favorite place to be, the work was just too overwhelming, one slight screw up with a recipe and the meal was a loss, the pressure was just too much. My husband; however, loves the kitchen. He’s a mechanical engineer, but would love to be a chef in his own restaurant.
On our second date, he cooked for me. It was wonderful and he’d used no recipe. He’s the type to open a fridge, throw a bunch of stuff together and then make the most magnificent meal you’ve ever tasted. A few weeks later, with my room mate out of town, I decided to make a romantic dinner at home for my boyfriend (soon to be husband). I went easy…spaghetti, but decided to make my mother’s homemade sauce which required an all day cooking.
My husband ate the entire dinner. It wasn’t until after, as I was cleaning the kitchen, when he asked me about the sauce. I walked him through the entire recipe, and then he asked about the grease from the meat. What did I do with it? I stared at him a bit dumbfounded. Grease? The recipe never mentioned grease. What was he talking about? Basically those are the exact words I used with him. It was then that he grabbed the pot of sauce and showed me the film over the top of it. Oops. From that point forward in our relationship, I stayed out of the kitchen.
Flash forward a few years. I’ve left my corporate America job to stay home with our son, Davey. Whether it be out of necessity, guilt, or a desire to be better mom and wife, I learned how to cook. I’m no Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay. I can’t just whip things up. I do have to follow a recipe, but I’ve actually become somewhat decent at cooking, actually I’m probably a step above decent.
The great thing about me learning to cook is that Davey has always been very hands on with me in the kitchen. This year for Christmas, he received his own personal set of cooking utensils, and he knew exactly what each was to be used for. He doesn’t like the term chef, but instead prefers to call himself Cooker Man.
Over our past couple of years in the kitchen, I’ve observed a few things with Davey. This is probably the one activity he focuses on the most. It’s the one activity where he awaits instructions, doesn’t trudge ahead. It’s the one activity where he’s very intent on the task at hand. He follows the rules and order of the ingredients. He’s cautious, walking through his checklist when operating the stove. He doesn’t try to touch a knife, instead just leaving it alone. And he has such pride in his work. At 4 years old, he’s attempting to beautifully plate the food. “It’s in the presentation, mom,” he once said to me. I didn’t know that he knew what the sentence meant.
He questions different ingredients, asking about their tastes and then determining if they would go well together. I literally watch as he looks off into space and contemplates the combinations of different ingredients. I can see the wheels turning inside his brain. Days when he becomes so inquisitive and contemplative, I find myself forgetting that he’s only 4 years old.
A few days ago, I commented to him that I didn’t know how to make my own eggs until I was in college. He’s already learning how to properly make an omelet, which is good because it means I’m also learning how to properly make one as well. Our time in the kitchen has been invaluable. We learn together, we encourage each other, and at times he manages to show me a thing or two. I learn more about him when we’re in the kitchen. He loves to tell stories of the day, what he did at school, who is friends are, and so forth.
My little Cooker Man is becoming quite the pro and I’m proud of him. Who knows? He may be the Doser to open his own restaurant and be the head chef.
In my short amount of years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things. First, you don’t ever offer a toddler options…he’ll always choose poorly. Second, snacks after 4 in the afternoon spell imminent doom for those of us hoping to enjoy a peaceful family dinner, and third…you learn a lot about your child when cooking together in the kitchen.
From the moment Davey was old enough to help in the kitchen, I had him with me. I was a new and inexperienced cook at that point, eager to start a new adventure with my child. I voraciously poured through websites, Pinterest, and our cookbooks looking for easy, yet fun and healthy things I could cook with my little one. I wanted to create memories, to be the fun mom, to have something to do as a stay at home mom. I wanted to document our cooking fiascos with my new camera and my insatiable desire to write. The kitchen was my stage, my prop, the backdrop to my coolness as a stay at home mom. What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from cooking with my son.
Before he could even speak, he was lining muffin pans, tossing cut up apples into batter, dipping his finger into icing and licking the spoon and bowl. When I would suggest we make something, he would jump, grab his monster apron, a stool, and an eagerness greater than anything I’d ever seen. One would think when starting in the kitchen with your littles, you would pick something easy, a Betty Crocker brownie, Pillsbury premade, precut cookies, or a Duncan Hines cupcake mix. Me? Well, I don’t like to start small, my goals are high and lofty, so we started with a made from scratch apple muffin recipe. It took us nearly two hours, but we made some of the best apple muffins I’ve ever tasted and Davey was hooked.
Back then, he didn’t talk much. These days; however, are much more different These days, my son loves to talk about what he’s measuring, how he’s going to bake it, cook it, or grill it, how to decorate it, and who gets what. This past week, I learned a lot more than I bargained for, especially about Davey’s fellow classmates and his teachers.
In celebration of Halloween, I decided we would make Rice Krispie treats for his class. I decided to make them in the shapes of pumpkins and bats and decorate them with chocolate and candy eyes. I even bought cake decorating pens to help with the faces. As usual, Davey jumped right in, his brother even helping out, but the true fun for me didn’t really start until Henry was napping and Davey and I were left alone to decorate the treats.
For the better part of an hour, I spent the afternoon with my oldest son listening to him as he decorated the Rice Krispie treats. He told me about the two Annas in his class, one of whom I knew from last year. He picked out the pumpkin each one could have and told me the reasons behind giving them their pumpkins. He told me stories of the boys in his class, how one always makes him laugh, how another one is really quiet. He picked out bats for his two teachers and told little anecdotes about the things that he likes best about them. I learned who he likes to sit alongside, who he plays with the most, who makes him sad and why, and what his favorite part about each person is in his class. This was truly the first time when I wanted to put down the camera, the laptop and phone. This was the first time in our cooking when I just wanted to totally immerse myself in the moment, the being, with my son, and savor every little morsel he wanted to share with me.
This was more than just a memory to be created. This was more than just an adventure, or an excuse to write. This was my opportunity to really get to know my son. This was an opportunity I hope to recreate again for years to come as his love for the kitchen grows, but it was also an opportunity for a mother and son bonding experience that may one day go away as he gets older. Needless to say, if you’ve had some sort of influence in Davey’s life, be it good or bad, then I’m likely to hear about it in the kitchen, while we cook, and dissect the events of the days.
Kitchen talk…it truly is a magical time.
***as you can see, there are no pictures from the actual cutting or decorating. I was too wrapped up in the stories I was being told.***
There once was a girl who hated to cook.
The kitchen she refused to look.
But one day fate stepped in
And soon it would begin
That girl became a cook.
Alright, alright! I’m definitely not a poet who didn’t know it. Quite the opposite as you can see above.
I’ve started taking to my role of a stay-at-home mom quite well. It’s only taken me a year to do it, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, kids! Ok. I’m done with the cheesy factor, at least with my writing.
Before I go on, let me tell this quick little anecdote of when my husband and I first started dating. As most of you may know (at least those of you who’ve known me my entire life, my husband his entire life, and both of us together), my husband is the cook in the family and I STINK at it. When we first started dating, he made this amazing meal of a crab meat stir fry complete with his own homemade soy sauce. He can open a fridge and pull random ingredients out and throw them together to make the greatest meal your taste buds have ever encountered. Me? Not so much, but I am learning.
The first time I cooked for my husband, I made what I thought to be an amazing meal (although it didn’t come out like my mother’s always had). I made your basic spaghetti, except I cooked the sauce ALL DAY LONG. It was one of those slow cooker sauces in which all of the ingredients are fresh and there’s no such thing as using a jar of sauce.
My husband ate his entire plate of spaghetti. I was so happy. As we were cleaning the dishes, he asked me about the sauce. Being proud of myself, I jumped right in with the comment that it was my mother’s recipe (my mother never wanted me to repeat this, considering how badly I butchered it). He smiled at me and then asked me about the meat. I told him I made it with ground beef, which I had crumbled up into a frying pan and browned. He continued to smile at me and then asked,
“What about the grease?”
Huh? Grease? What grease?
“Did you drain the grease?” He asked.
“Of course not. The recipe didn’t call for that. Look,” I said while showing him the recipe.
Once again, he smiled at me and then took the pot of sauce and said,
“Do you see this film on top? That’s not supposed to be there.”
And that, my friends, was the end of my cooking days. Flash forward nine years and I’m a new woman! Who would have thought that? Not only can I cook, but I can also chop and dice vegetables without drawing blood. I can grill and baste, make meatballs from scratch, and even improvise.
Since, I’ve started getting so much better at this cooking thing I’ve decided to start posting some recipes on this blog, especially the ones that are simple, unique, and fun not just for me, but also for Davey. I’ve found that something I despised so much, can actually be fun especially when you have a little helper such as mine.
If any of you have some great recipes you would like for me to try or would like to share with each other, please feel free to comment. Check back later tonight for my Sloppy Joe Empanadas. Yum!