Archive for February, 2011

The Cooking Monster

Posted on: February 18th, 2011 by Cori

I love to cook, have for years. I’d choose cooking over eating at a restaurant almost all of the time, and would cook (and shop, and grow vegetables) every day if there was nothing else getting in the way (i.e. work, laundry, the need to catch up on past episodes of Friday Night Lights!). But I live in the real world and that means there are nights I am too busy to cook. Gary gets it; sometimes we order in, sometimes we just scrounge among the leftovers. Sara on the other hand, is too young to grasp this concept. So she comes bounding in every afternoon telling me she wants to cook with me. Insisting on it, actually.

This is great if it is one of the nights I am indeed cooking for her. We’ve tried really hard to instill a love of cooking in her, and it is definitely working. She loves her play kitchen and enjoys cooking classes when we take her, but most of all, she likes to help us cook. Every Sunday we make eggs, and she is the designated whisker. She destems mushrooms, breaks asparagus, and tears lettuce and kale. She brushes olive oil or marinades on anything and loves to work the food processor (with adult supervision, of course). She even has her own mini, functional blender. When we used to ask who she was in the kitchen, her response was “sous chef,” but recently she promoted herself to chef. All in all we’ve created a monster – a cooking monster.

Whisking Eggs

I have no complaints at all about this …. except for those nights when all I am planning to do is reheat something from the night before, or throw some chicken fingers in the oven. Saying to a nearly three year old there is nothing to “cook” just doesn’t cut it. Not only do I worry (too much I’m sure) that this will squelch her budding interest in all things culinary, but I also feel doubly guilty that I am giving her nuggets or leftovers and not something fresh (I know, we all do it and there is NOTHING wrong with it, but I still feel guilty).

Sometimes, even though I won’t be cooking for her, I will be cooking for Gary and I so there will be some tasks she can help with for that meal, but sometimes there is just nothing child friendly for her to do. And her having a meltdown because THERE IS NOTHING TO COOK seems well, seems ridiculous.

Last night I brought her home a cooking with kids cookbook, and of course, she started flipping right through wanting to cook. This process is especially interesting when the chef can barely identify all the letters of the alphabet let alone read the names, descriptions  or instructions. It took her all of five minutes to point to the popsicle recipe. Luckily I had the ingredients on hand, and it was only a fifteen minute, no cooking involved endeavor. But what happens when she looks the next time and points to tortellini or chinese chicken salad?

So I am trying to come up with some evergreen recipes/projects/tasks. Things that I can whip out at the drop of a hat, knowing I have the proper ingredients AND the time to make them before her “real,” reheated/chicken nugget/frozen pizza dinner is ready to eat.

Please, anyone with suggestions, send them along. Now that we’ve created this cooking monster, we’ve got to continue to “feed the beast!”

The Preschool Breakfast Dance

Posted on: February 7th, 2011 by Cori

We have a pretty good morning routine. Sara typically wakes up between 7 and 7:30, we bring her up to our room where she drinks some milk, reads and plays while we take turns showering and getting ready. Whoever showers first gets her dressed, and we all reconvene in the kitchen around 8:30. Coffee gets made, our sitter arrives, Gary leaves, and at some point between 8:45 and 9:15 Sara has breakfast.


If she’s hungry.

I don’t force it, and if she doesn’t eat much I don’t stress, since I know she’s not going to waste away from skipping one meal. And the rest of the time, Sara is a great eater. Plus, she can always have a snack mid-morning. I myself am not a big breakfast eater, and am not often hungry first thing, so I get where she’s coming from.

But since September she’s been going to school two mornings a week, and on those days I find myself trying desperately to get something, anything in her belly lest she faint from hunger right in the middle of circle time. Rationally, I know that will not happen. I know they have a snack mid-day. I know intellectually that maybe if one morning she does indeed become ravenous at a time when she can’t demand a snack that she will then consent to breakfast the following day.

Knowing and doing of course, are not the same. So I find myself trying all sorts of “tricks” to get her to eat. First I experimented with different foods. Smoothies – let’s drink our breakfast! Special muffins! Sitting at the island instead of the table! These things worked, occasionally, but not consistently. Enter the iphone. (I know, cue the dark dramatic music). IF she is checking out one of her apps on the iphone, sitting at the counter, I can usually put a plate of something next to her and she will eat it.

Is this wrong? It’s not like she’s watching Real Toddlers of Beverly Hills: it’s either an educational game or PBS’s Sprout. But I know it’s a slippery slope that I’ve started down, all in the interest of getting a few cups of sustenance inside of her. Is it worth it? Anyone have any other ideas?

What Did You Do Today Honey?

Posted on: February 1st, 2011 by Cori

Sara is asleep (or at least in bed, singing to herself on her way to dream land), toys are picked up, and Gary and I are just sitting down to dinner. “So what did you do today?” he asks. An innocent question, one that is asked of spouses and partners in thousands if not millions of homes around the world each and every night. I get it, it’s a totally normal thing to ask, and I ask it of Gary every day. But having to answer it myself, well sometimes that makes me cringe.

For one thing, I have never been too “sharey” about work. Unless I feel like I’ve done something really great, I tend to want to let the ins and outs of my day stay quiet. And I think working for myself, especially if I have had a day without client meetings or other outside contact, by the time dinner comes, I am ready to be OUT of my own head and to turn off work completely.

But there is another issue at play that is directly related to being a work from home mom. As I’ve mentioned before, my day is fragmented, and could include drop off/pick up at school, grocery shopping, dinner prep and of course, work. So tasks – especially work – get squeezed into short bursts of time before and after my other responsibilities.  This alone constitutes poor time management (and sometimes bad prioritizing!) but it gets worse. When I am in “work time” I frequently try to cram so much into a small period of time that a)I feel like I am getting nothing done and b)I am probably right!