Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hugs and Kisses

This weekend, Pops' family will celebrate his Grandma's 91st birthday!! It will be a lovely time to get together and visit and eat some yummy things. (If only I knew how to make a light weight personal air conditioning machine and bubble to carry about for this event! - any ideas?!!)

I volunteered to bring several items - after I read over the list and with my OCD issues, re-wrote the whole list  that was being emailed and replied to and organized it by types of food being volunteered. Seriously - like I don't have other things that I SHOULD have been doing. But, I felt so much better seeing what areas needed a few more items (side dishes needed a couple) and which areas didn't (appetizers and salads were well represented!). So, with my help, the girls who looked through my "favorites" cookbook (which is falling apart and I will need to rework sometime soon - when I find time not working on pointless lists due to OCD) chose what I should make. I will be bringing our family's FAVORITE sweet white cornbread (it's the only cornbread that Pops will even eat!!), a big pan of buttered noodles (a favorite of young children - not so much my more adventuresome eaters) and some sugar cookies. Bump has been asking to make more cookies with his letter and number cutters, so I thought that this would be a great time to get some more letter cookies made!

Last time we made cookies, he chose to start with A and 1. I thought that was brilliant. Start at the very beginning... a very good place to start! So, I asked him this time, "Which letter should we make?" I FULLY expected him to say, "B!!" But, boy was I surprised when he said with extreme excitement, "X!!! Mama, I wanna make X!!" Okey dokey... X it is! I thought that 0 was a good number option since it will look like x's and o's for a plate of cookies!

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Ready as ever to help in the kitchen - now sporting his "little boy" haircut!
You know, there are times when toddlers are extremely challenging, and let me be the first to admit that there are times when I would like to throw my hands up in the air and give up with the "terribles" - but every time I take a breath and try to understand the frustration, I learn something. Usually, I learn that I didn't listen very well and I assumed I knew what was wanted/best and didn't wait to find out needs or wants. So, almost all tantrums seem to be resolved when he feels both HEARD and UNDERSTOOD!! But sometimes that takes soooooo much time, right?!?!

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Well, here is where taking into account what I learned LAST time making cookies will help! Three's want to "Do it all by myself, mama." How in the world can you let a three-year old do it all by himself and really end up with cookies in the end?!! 

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Well, I am wishing he chose the letter "P" because here is where I will talk about how Prior Proper Planning will Prevent Pitifully Poor Performance!! I started by getting out all of the ingredients that we would need to make my favorite sugar cookie recipe (given to me by a dear friend from when Pops was still in Veterinary School - and she is Branch's Godmother) tripled in order to share this weekend!! I never make a single batch of this cookie dough. Usually we double it, but there have been several occasions that I have tripled. My mixer will not handle a quadruple batch - so, I have to make it work with a triple... as if, right!?!

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1 Tblspn Salt
Once all the ingredients are out on the counter, I often find Bump climbing on the counter to get his help going on. So, I get out the measuring scoop/spoon and fill it and set it down so that he can lift and dump right into a smaller container.

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1 Tblspn Baking Powder
If we have a big spill or mess, I have the ability to get it squared away with corrected amounts before it goes into the big batch. He gets to feel like he is doing it all, dumping things in and I get to feel like something will pan out with accurate measurements. Awesomeness!

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3 c white sugar
Now, I know that this makes extra dishes to wash. Really. I KNOW that. But, I love his determination. I love that he feels like he is DOING it. I love sharing my love of baking with him and he behaves well and has fun. If we make the extra dishes, we make no fussing at each other over whose job is whose!!

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7 c All Purpose Flour  (we use unbleached) 
I didn't get a picture of the measuring cup sitting in the bowl. It seems that as soon as I set the scoop down in the bowl - on top of the flour already in the bowl - that he had it picked up and flipping over! He loves dumping!!

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He is ready... for making cookies! Enough already - let's get it mixing!!

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Right up there on the counter with all the ingredients and the mixer just to HIS right.
Ready to go - all amounts ready to put into the mixer bowl!!

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2 1/4 c Butter
Put the butter in the mixer and whip it until it is fluffy looking.

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Go dig out the bowl collar for helping three-year olds dump all sorts of ingredients into the bowl without having to stop and lift the beater for every addition!

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Something is very interesting... We are about to add the bowl of sugar. "What does sugar taste like, mama?" 

"Well, it tastes sweet and good. Do you want to try it?"

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Yes, sweet and good. He liked it and wanted to eat it instead of add it. I had to remind him that he wanted COOKIES not a bowl of sugar. That seemed to work!

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So, into the butter went all of that sugar!

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1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
Then the vanilla...

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6 Eggs
and then the eggs...

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every last one!!

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Then he started in on the flour. He added about one third of the flour.

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Then, the salt...

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the baking powder...

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and finally the remainder of the flour. He was so cute and said, "NOW? Can we cut them out with my X?"

I had to put the dough into the refrigerator and we will continue with the cookies later - maybe tomorrow - at least after I have had some time to sit and rest a bit!

I do have some control issues that I have learned to let go of with baking and children. In fact, some of the tricks I use with the kids, I now use for myself so that I make things easy for me, too! I'll take pictures of what we do and how I can stand back and let him roll dough, cut cookies and then we'll try to paint and sprinkle some cookies and leave others for some frosting.

For now- this is the natural resting point in this cookie making process. Maybe some homemade play-doh is in order, here...

Do you have toddlers in your kitchen? What kind of fun messes do you make??!!!

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