Daddy Talk: Your Pinterest Test Kitchen
Though I haven’t done any statistical analyses, my perception is that bookstore shelves have become more glutted with cookbooks directed at children. They have titles like Meals Kids LOVE to Make and Kid-Tested Meals for the Whole Family. Somehow we’ve ended up with a few of these ourselves. If you don’t keep your guard up, you’ll get dragged into this whole culinary experiment with your preschoolers and your kitchen will end up looking like a Pinterest craft gone awry.
First of all, a lot of the recipes in these books are no simpler than the recipes in my grandma’s notecard file. You’d think that with the kid emphasis the instructions would be more basic or the ingredient list would be less exhaustive. But, no. My eight-year old, Tanner, was recently flipping through one of the kid cookbooks we have and found a great “breakfast pizza” option that he wanted to make one weekend. He’d do it “all by himself.” I scanned down the instructions and nixed the idea when I noticed that the lengthy list of ingredients included eight egg whites.
Second, as any veteran parent immediately realizes, leading your kids through a kids cookbook recipe instantaneously doubles your workload (or worse, depending on how many kids you have working on the project). Now, I’m not only in charge of getting breakfast on the table, but I’m also in charge of setting my kids to various tasks that they’re unfamiliar with. Like straining the whites out of eggshells.
And if there’s any real cooking involved in the chosen recipe—by “real cooking” I mean using the stove—there’s a pretty good chance something crazy is going to happen. I let my ten-year old, Isaac, use our gas stove recently to “cook” a freezer meal. Basically, he just had to stir the pasta around in a pot until it thawed and heated up. I stepped into the backyard for a moment, and when I came back in, he was using tongs to fling a flaming napkin into the sink. He may have been close to burning the house down just to satisfy a curiosity about that gas burner. (Is it REALLY fire?)
Parents are also aware that their kids will find a recipe anywhere or simply make one up. They don’t need a kids cookbook. (Anyone remember the column I wrote about the “chicken bone soup”?) One bizarre recipe find occurred recently when Isaac discovered a stash of old cookbooks that we inherited from my grandmother’s estate some years ago. Isaac flipped through one of these and declared that he was going to make “chocolate fudge pudding” for dessert that night.
This cookbook, I should mention, was from a high school fundraiser in 1961 and contained recipes submitted by parents in the community. The author of this particular recipe was listed as “Mrs. Richard F. Hummel.” I warned Isaac that we may not have the same pudding tastes in 2021 in Mississippi that they used to have in Western Pennsylvania in 1961, but he was not deterred. He was going to make this pudding recipe—which called for Crisco and flour and for being baked in the oven. I mean, who has ever baked pudding? Sounds like something from Victorian England. Regardless, we can now say that we baked pudding in our oven. And it wasn’t even that bad. Thank you, Mrs. Richard F. Hummel, wherever you are.