When Matthew was very little, he always showed such an interest in mimicking me as I went about my kitchen chores. He loved to "help" unload the dishwasher, cook the meals, and set the table. I think for him this interest stemmed from a combination of inherent obsessions - his love of all machinery and his need to be social all the time. He has always been fascinated with all types of machines - their mechanics and functions - which is why he has always been drawn to my various kitchen appliances, especially the coffee maker, the espresso machine, the stand mixer, and the food processor. For the social aspect, Matthew loves to chat pretty much nonstop. That's actually been the biggest difference I have noticed with him being away at school during the day: there is suddenly silence! Emma plays fairly quietly when Matthew is not around and I have to admit that I find the lack of noise a little unnerving at times. I'm not used to it!
Unlike Matthew, Emma has showed very little interest in helping out in the kitchen. She always likes to be directly underfoot or perched atop a chair pulled up to the kitchen island, but it is not so she can help me cook or visit with me. She has more of an interest in eating the ingredients. She has been known to steal sticks of softening butter off the counter-top, peel off the wrapping, and chowing down. She loves butter. She uses dinner rolls as a vehicle for eating butter. We had king crab legs for dinner the other night, and she just kept continuously dipping one large piece of crab into the clarified butter and licking it off. Her butter obsession is pretty gross.
But it's not just butter she's after. She's stolen onions, carrots, bell peppers, garlic, berries, cheese, broccoli, and potatoes off my cutting board as I'm prepping meals. Every time I turn around, I have to take inventory because Emma, in all her chunky glory, can actually be quite stealthy when it comes to swiping food. I'm just afraid she's going to go after raw chicken or beef one of these days.
I decided to try to have Emma help me with a baking project and to maybe foster a little bit of appreciation for kitchen activities. The item of choice? These Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Now, this recipe is, in my opinion, makes the best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. The recipe comes from our neighbor who brought me a huge batch of these cookies shortly after Emma was born. Paul and I thought they were heavenly and I begged her for the recipe. Now I'm sharing it with you!
Emma basically just helped me dump ingredients into the mixer. It was a major struggle trying to get her not to eat the ingredients. And when she tasted the cookie dough - oh my we were in trouble! When it came to scooping the cookies, I let her operate the cookie scoop. As you can see, she clearly mastered that skill. Can't you see how beautifully even and pretty the cookies turned out? The cookies in the picture were, believe it or not, the best looking of the bunch. Again, Emma tried to take a handful out of pretty much every cookie once we finally got a mound of dough onto the baking sheets.
Did this experiment kindle a love for cooking and helping in my little Emma? Not really. But she sure did love snacking on the end results.
Despite their homely looks, these cookies really are fantastic. It's hard to just eat one. Just ask Emma.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
from a recipe gifted by our neighbor
1 1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and beat for 1 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture. Add the oatmeal, raisins, and nuts and stir just until combined. Drop by the tablespoon full onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are just lightly browned.
Let cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.