So after dressing the kids up in aprons and hats, what if they ask you to actually cook with them? I find that sometimes they are content to stand and watch me cut and chop everything for dinner. It's especially fun for them when the foods include things that they can steal bits of while I'm prepping: carrots, cheese, etc.
Sometimes, they just want to go into their special drawer in the kitchen (which is full of all the cooking tools that are safe for play) and grab some stuff to make believe with.
|Great to have recipes with weights... eliminates measuring!|
Sometimes though, watching or pretending is not enough and they want to participate. Or as my toddler says, "Elp mommy doop [Help mommy scoop]".
|Little hands trying to knead|
We often bake cookies or muffins together since they are very forgiving about my kids inaccurate measurements. The kids have fun scooping, counting and measuring out all the ingredients. Giving them each their own bowl to mix only makes one extra bowl to wash, but keeps both very happy. Then they enjoy forming the cookies or dropping chocolate chips/fruit/raisins into the muffin cups.
Of course, my waistline doth protest when we bake too many sweets. So they often help me with pizza or calzones. You can make your own dough or buy some from the store. They play with the dough like it's modelling clay while I make the actual meal. When they are finally done playing with the dough, I either have them make a mini pizza/calzone or we fry the dough like a pan bread for a quick treat while we wait for the main event to bake.
|What mommy made while the kids were playing with the dough|
Any type of bread is fun for the kids, because they get to measure and then get hands-on with the dough. Breads are also great because you can often convert all the measurements to weights. And if you place your mixing bowl on a scale, the kids can scoop away to their little hearts' content while you simply watch the scale.
|What the kids made|
To minimize the waiting time between risings, I use instant yeast where possible and plan the bread making around lunch time. That way we can make the dough and knead it before lunch, have some lunch while it rises, form it after lunch, rise it again and bake/cook during post-lunch play and it's ready by snack time.
|The sweet reward|
Mommy does have an ulterior motive for having kids in the kitchen and the inevitable mess that follows. though... the faint hope of future kids who can cook for themselves and me!