The past few weeks have been hard on me. Tons of work, end of semester exams, etc., etc. It’s been more about seasonal exhaustion than winter blues, that’s for sure! Plus, I have been feeling a bit guilty for neglecting the blog a bit.
I absolutely love cooking, but since December 1st I have basically been eating for sustenance only, with simple requirements: Is it edible? Y/N Is it hot? Y/N Is there enough of it? Y/N. And until I get over the next hurdle (two day-long exams on Jan 28th/29th), it might just be beans on toast 4 times a week.
My relative absence from the kitchen has had a bit of a knock-on effect, though. First of all, I have been relying on the Hubby to do more of the daily family feeding. I don’t want to complain, but let’s just say results have been a mixed bag. Especially the day last week I came home from university at ten to eight, looking forward to something made with the lovely organic veg I knew he had brought home that afternoon, only to be told that we were going for pizza. I like pizza. But I love veg. And if I “cooked” like that every time I didn’t feel like peeling carrots, we’d just be living at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The other consequence is that Project 2016 – teaching my boys to cook – is increasing in importance. If I can occasionally delegate the dinner to the Young Ones, it leaves me wih my hands free for homework (mine or other people’s).
The project rollout began yesterday afternoon when Liam told me he had done all his homework during study class and that he was free. I am pretty sure he meant “free to play on the Wii”, but I smiled and said “Great! You can make a batch of brownies!” Hehe.
Baking needs exact measures, but Liam is old enough at 12 to do all the weighing himself, so I made him prepare all the ingredients in separate little bowls before starting the actual baking process. I also made him take out all the machines he might need. This might seem obvious, but working with a complete beginner is hard because nothing is obvious. I told him to get a mixing bowl (thinking, plastic with a non-slip bottom), he pulled out a pyrex salad bowl. I said “spatula” he took out a wooden spoon (As if he had never seen or used or licked a spatula before! Duh.) Doing everything step by step is difficult when you are used to multitasking and cooking several dishes simultaneously.
So… Step 1: turn on the oven. No, first you take out all the baking trays. Then you turn it on. To 180. Degrees. 180 degrees. Yes. Celsius. Yes, 180 degrees Celsius. I know the dial doesn’t say 180 degrees. Put it in between 150 and 200, but a little closer to 200. Because if it’s exactly in the middle, it would be 175 degrees, but we want 180 degrees, so you OH FORGET IT I’LL DO IT YOU JUST WATCH AND NEXT TIME THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR 180 DEGREES, OK?
Step 2: invent new swear words that you can say in front of the children, but still give you some relief. Like “FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST…mas”. And “HOLY MOTHER OF Justin Bieber”. I may have worn out the old classic “sugar” for shit and “BOLLO…gnese” for another type of meatballs.
But enough of the fun stuff.
You realize that you have to explain about resetting the electronic scales to zero when adding a new ingredient. You have to make them check the electric mixer is turned off before they plug it in. You show them where to put their fingers when holding the bowl to avoid the moving parts, or even just to avoid chocolate batter being flung at the ceiling. You have to explain how to melt chocolate in a microwave without scorching it. You have to explain how to cut greaseproof paper to fit a baking tin. You also have to explain that it’s not OK to lick the spatula and stick it back into the batter.
For my brownies recipe, you can go to this older blog post, but there’s another thing: my children’s dominant language is French, but most of my recipes are in German, some in English. I will therefore get the boys to write the recipes out step by step in French (wash hands/oven on, etc. included), which we will put into their special new cookbook as we go along.
Liam’s brownies turned out lovely. I did have to call him back three times to finish cleaning the countertops, but he eventually put away his mess (most of it). Next time, I will oversee from afar instead of hover over him with hawk eye and Jedi reflexes. I have to learn to let go a bit more.