The title is misleading. I don’t cook with my kids, per se. Most of the time, I am actually screaming at them to “get out of my kitchen”. Hold up… Before you go handing me the ‘Bad Mom’ award for withholding perfect life lessons in the kitchen… I have tried. My 17-year old is brilliant, headstrong and independent, but lacks common sense. This is an atrocious combination in the kitchen. I once gave her the task of making cranberry tea; the five ingredient list must have been overwhelming. Instead of adding ¾ of a cup of sugar, she added three to four cups. Three to four cups?! I would have to take out extra dental insurance to deal with the consequences of drinking that mess. My eight-year old doesn’t like doing anything that remotely resembles work, so he is usually out of the equation when it comes to helping out in the kitchen. Kind of sad, too…. He is the one who I dreamed of becoming a professional chef, testing out gourmet dishes on his mama. The three-year old? Right. Anyone try cooking with a three-year old? They have the attention span of a gnat at that age, and are bored with whatever task at hand, before they even start. So, I cook by myself. It is my time. Usually…..
Strolling through the kitchen this morning, I noticed the bananas on the counter, ripe and to the point where they were almost unrecognizable as bananas. Hmm, I thought. These would be perfect for banana bread. I have an easy recipe that takes about 10 minutes to throw together. During the hour while the bread is baking, I could fold the laundry, clean the kitchen, multi-task. Piece of cake, -er-, banana bread. Usually……
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I usually store my pizza stones in the oven, so I attempt to pull them out before preheating. The oven door is locked. What? How in the hell!? I didn’t even know my oven had this feature. Sticking that in the back of my mind (because an oven door that locks is not a bad thing to have with kids in the house), I attempt pressing buttons to unlock the damn thing. It won’t budge. Cursing, what I thought was under my breath, must have begged the 17-year old to come upstairs and ask what’s wrong. I tell her that I can’t get the damn oven open. She walks over, presses the lock button for 5 seconds, and voila, the oven unlocks. Figures.
Grease the loaf pan. Where is my loaf pan? It is not in the cabinet, where every other piece of stoneware resides. It is not in the pantry, where it has shown up once or twice before. I bellow to the 17-year old, who had just walked out of the room, does she know where my loaf pan is? She replies along the lines that she thinks she put it downstairs, in storage. What? Why? I give her another quick lesson on how everything has a place in my kitchen, and all stones are stored in this one particular location. I swear I could actually see my words going in one ear and out the other. She gives me a blank stare and nods her head. Whatever.
Mix ripe bananas and two eggs. The sound of the refrigerator door opening must have triggered something in my three-year old, Pavlov’s dog-style. She pads in, her bare feet slapping the hardwood.
“I’m hungry,” she exclaims. Of course she is. She just finished eating breakfast exactly three minutes ago. I think it was just an excuse to get underfoot. I could be cleaning the kitchen, watering my plants in the kitchen, just standing in the kitchen, and it will be a ghost town. As soon as I start cooking something, however, they all turn up. Ever try reading a recipe card when you have three kids and a husband up your ass about something? It makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on the task at hand. Hence, the common use of the phrase “get out of my kitchen”.
“Kenz, would you like an apple?”
“Would you like a cheese stick?”
“Would you like a hard-boiled egg?” This was going to be the last of our multiple choice game. I think she picked up on my frustration.
“Um. Okay. But, I will peel it.”
I pull a hard-boiled egg out of the fridge, and hand it over to my “starving” child. She proceeds to crack her egg, and holding over the trash can, begins slowly and meticulously peeling. It was such a bittersweet site; my three-year old makes less of a mess than my 17-year old.
Back to the eggs and bananas… I get out my hand-held mixer, and after several minutes of searching the kitchen, high and low, I locate the beaters, in the wrong drawer. Sigh.
“Mama, I need salt for my egg.”
“How do you ask?”
“Mama, could I have some salt? Please?”
“Give me a second Kenz.” I finish beating the egg and banana mixture, and then turn my attention back to the little one. I grab a small dish, grind a few dashes of sea salt in, and hand it over to my daughter.
Add two cups of whole wheat flour, ¾ cup of sugar (not 3-4 cups, ha!), one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of baking soda, and one teaspoon of cinnamon… Where in the hell are my measuring spoons?! I find the tablespoon, ½ tablespoon, and the ¼ teaspoon in the drawer. I swear my three-year old is a kleptomaniac. At some point, she must have decided that she needed my teaspoon measuring spoon. I immediately blame her since, in the past, I have found various kitchen utensils, watches, my address book, single shoes, my recipe book, Chapstick, my husband’s wallet, our RV’s keys, a book of stamps, and the letter ‘C’ off the laptop keyboard, just to name a few, in her room. I add the flour and sugar, but before I have a chance to start measuring 4 ¼ teaspoons of salt…
“Can I have some milk?”
“Kenz, can you please wait until I am done with this? I promise it will only take me five more minutes. Please?”
“Yeah, okay mama.”
One ¼ teaspoon salt. Two ¼ teaspoons salt. Three –
“Mama, can I have some milk?”
“Kenz, honey, hold on a second,” I plead. Where was I?
Three ¼ teaspoons of salt. Four ¼ teaspoons of salt. Sigh. This is ridiculous. To thwart off any more distractions while attempting to measure out four ¼ teaspoons of baking soda, and then four ¼ teaspoons of cinnamon, I turn my attention back to the three-year old. I grab a cup out of the cabinet, grab the milk from the fridge and pour. Approximately one tablespoon of milk pours into her cup. Fricking frack!! Who put the milk back into the fridge with a measly tablespoon of milk left?! Sigh.
I head out to the garage to get another gallon of milk. On the way back in through the mudroom, I fittingly step in a muddy, watery puddle that had melted off the eight-year old’s boots, following his little trek through the snow earlier that morning. My left sock gets instantly soaked. Sigh. I strip off my socks, throw them in the laundry, put the fresh gallon of milk on the kitchen counter, and head to my room for a new pair. I grab the Swifter and head to the mudroom to clean the floor. I will not be stepping in that pile again.
With dry socks, and a newly cleaned mudroom floor, I head back to the kitchen to finish my banana bread. But first, I top off the three-year old’s milk.
Okay, where were we? Um, baking soda, I think. One ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Two –
“Mama, can I have some strawberries?” Isn’t her stomach supposed to be the size of her fist?! Where is she putting all of it?!
I sigh, “Sure Kenz.” That is one thing that I won’t argue with; if my children say they are hungry, and want a healthy snack, then who am I to deny? I get the container of strawberries out of the fridge, another small dish out of the cupboard, and a paring knife out of the drawer. I carefully slice off the tops of four strawberries, cut them in half, and place them in the dish in front of her. The mention of the word “strawberries” must have a Pavlov’s dog effect on the eight-year old. He comes sauntering into the kitchen.
“Can I have some strawberries too?” Seriously? I had just finished cleaning up the breakfast dishes. It had been less than 15 minutes ago that the kids had eaten. Regardless, I once again slice off the tops of a handful of strawberries, cut them in half, and place them in a dish in front of my son.
“Thanks Mama,” the kids say in unison.
Okay, back to the freaking banana bread – where was I?? Two ¼ teaspoons of baking soda. Three ¼ teaspoons of baking soda. Four ¼ teaspoons of baking soda.
“Mom, can I have some milk?” my eight-year old says in between bites of strawberry. Oh for Christ sakes!! I grab my son a cup and pour him a glass of milk.
One ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Two –
I throw a threatening glare towards both kids. The boy must have picked up on this non-verbal warning, because instead of a need, he simply had a question: “-Er, What are you making?”
“I’m trying to make banana bread, James. It is becoming very hard to do, with you and your sister needing something every five minutes.”
Cinnamon…. Where was I? Oh, f- it. You can never have too much cinnamon. I eyeball an approximate teaspoon in the palm of my hand, and throw it into the bowl. I plug in the hand held mixer, and may or may not have kept it running a little longer than required to drown out the “mom” bellows from my 17-year old downstairs.
Last ingredient, thank GOD, is a ¾ cup of walnuts. Again, not bothering with a measuring cup because I just want to get done, I eyeball about ¾ cup of walnuts in the palm of my hand, throw it into the bowl, mix with a spatula, and pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan to bake. My 10 minutes to prep banana bread took just a wee bit longer than anticipated.
Sometimes I think I am losing my mind. Taking a step back to assess the situations that cause me to question my sanity, however, makes me realize that it’s not me, it’s THEM. They take what should be a simple task, and throw landmines in the form of puddles in the mudroom and constant inquisitions to deter me from reaching my goal. They test my memory and my ability to think logically, as well as critically. Cooking with kids takes a whole hell of a lot of determination, concentration, and persistence. Hell, accomplishing anything with kids in the house takes the conviction of a superhero.
Quick Banana Bread
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a loaf pan.
- Mix the bananas and eggs together in a large bowl.
- Stir in the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes. Banana bread will be done when a toothpick inserted in comes out clean.