“Order up!” I hear my son calling from the kitchen. I finally broke down and ordered cable a few weeks ago and since we’ve had service, I’ve been vegging on the couch watching cooking shows on TV. I’ve had a little shadow by my side on the sofa and while I watched chefs creating fancy desserts, I’ve been creating somewhat of a monster.
One night he decided we all needed to play. He was going to recreate a cooking challenge for us. The whole set up was quite elaborate. He assembled mystery baskets and kept making suggestions like “You need to start plating at the five minute mark or you will not get it done in time.”
He pitted my boyfriend and I against each other to see who can come up with the best popcorn, a task for which we were allotted 20 minutes each. Popcorn. 20 minutes to make popcorn. In truth, my son handicapped me by ten minutes since I’m such a “slow cooker” and gave me 30 minutes to complete the task.
He wasn’t sure if I could manage even with the ten extra minutes, so he decided he had to help me. He made the most impossibly small quantity of popcorn and then decided to make the sauce for me. He later thought better of the amount of popcorn but at that point I just said, “It’s artisanal, we cook in small batches. It’s hipster-like. Trust me.” He wasn’t so sure.
In the end, both of our popcorn recipes were kind of terrible. He decided to do his own challenge after we finished up and I could hear his little voice lilting from the kitchen. He was narrating his preparations like a Food Network star and it was all I could do to stop from laughing hysterically at his performance. “I’m preparing for Chopped Junior, Mom,” he explained, gesturing at his imaginary competitors.
“First I add the Koolaid to the water, then I thought a while. I was thinking about a side dish, and when I think side dish, I think CARROTS!” he exclaimed, skewering baby carrots with toothpicks enthusiastically. He decided toothpicks are the epitome of fancy. “Perfect idea,” he continued to ramble, “Cheese! Bread! More toothpicks! and I stuck them all together and—BOOM! That’s your plate.”
He brought his cheese sandwich, baby carrots and Koolaid to the living room for our inspection, beaming with pride. The sandwich was cut up into impossibly tiny pieces, held together by his collection of toothpicks and his hope that we would be proud too. He waited for our verdict impatiently.“Sounds like you can make your own lunch now, bud,” I told him. He beamed and toddled off to fill his lunch bag. We did a final challenge as a family, assembling the most unlikely sandwich ingredients imaginable and he seemed to be having such a blast.
Tucking him in at night, I asked if he had fun. He said, “It was really great, mom, at least until I got Chopped!” I’m not sure what happened with his invisible competition that made him feel he lost, but he certainly won my heart all over again and served love up on a silver platter.
Do you cook with your kids?