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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Someone's in the Kitchen With Mama!

Gryffin's might be a famous chef someday. I don't know for sure, yet, but I can tell you this: the two most important things in this kid's mind are food and money. He is ALWAYS begging me to teach him to cook, and I resist mostly because he already eats everything he can! If I teach him how to cook, I'm afraid that I'll never have any food in the house!

That said, I do have to teach him sometime, and now is as good a time as any. He IS 7 after all, lol! Today for lunch, he demanded oatmeal. Normally I resist because oatmeal is bad for me as a diabetic, and I hate making things I can't eat. HOWEVER, it's perfect for a 2nd lesson in cooking. (The first lesson was how to stir, lol!) (NOTE: For those of you that are think "BLECH! I HATE oatmeal! I sympathize because normal oatmeal is bitter, and only instant oatmeal has enough sugar and chemicals in it to make it taste good. Keep reading though, because MY oatmeal could win awards!)

I agree to make oatmeal, and magically my boys are both standing on their chairs in front of the stove. I slowly - like a creaky old lady - make my way into the kitchen, all the way to the sink, and select a suitable pot to scrub up in preparation. Then I locate the measuring cup in the rack of clean dishes, and feel a lightbulb switch on in my head.

"Gryffin!" I sing loudly. It's his lesson after all :-) "Come here please!"
"Aww! I want to stir!" He whines.
"Ok, but before that, I need your help." I'm still singing loudly.
Gryffin slinks over like a dog who thinks he is about to be punished.
"Can you bring me the milk?"
"I can! I can!" Phoenix insists, and instantly I have a container of milk next to me. Wow! When did these boys learn summoning magic?
"Ok, Gryffin, do you see that line right there that says 2 cups?"
"Yes," Gryffin replies with interest.
"Can you pour the milk to that line?" I ask in a way that is slightly a challenge, like I want him to prove himself to me.
Gryffin concentrates as hard as he can, and pours exactly 2 cups of milk into the pyrex measuring cup. I then make him pour the milk in the pot, and pour out another two cups.

I will pause here to say that the KEY to good tasty oatmeal is using milk. If you use water, not only are you missing out on valuable nutrition, but you'll end up with a slightly bitter and not so tasty result.

Now that all 4 cups of milk are in the pot, I have Gryffin carefully measure out 2 cups of oatmeal and then carry the pot to the stove. Then I watch as he turns the gas burner on. I prefer electric, but gas is what we have, so I have spent a great deal of time warning the boys not to play with the stove. They don't like getting burnt, so they actually listen, yea!

I continue the lesson. "What do we need to do now?"
"Add the oatmeal!" Gryffin insists.
"NO," I sing. "First, we need to wait for it to get hot, and to help it heat up fast, we need to add some salt." I opted to skip the chemistry lesson, but added, "Salt also helps the oatmeal cook, and makes it taste better."
Gryffin and Phoenix watch as I shake a generous amount of salt into the pot full of milk. We all take turns dipping a finger in to check how hot it is. It's sometimes REALLY hard to tell when milk is boiling, and it often burns to the bottom of the pan, so the moment it was hot enough to almost burn my finger, but not actually burn my finger, I had Gryffin add 2 cups of oatmeal - which I'd made him measure out earlier.

So far, we have 4 cups milk, a generous sprinkling of salt, and 2 cups of oatmeal in the pot. I ask Gryffin if he can remember everything, and he repeats what we have done up to now.
"Good, now what do we do?" I ask, singing again.
"Stir Stir Stir!" Gryffin replies excitedly, and uses the heat proof silicon spatula to stir the pot as it cooks over high heat for about a minute or two. He stops when the oatmeal gets thick, and it's feels too hot for him to continue stirring. I tell him to turn off the burner.

"Now what do we need?" I ask
"BUTTER!" Phoenix answers, hopping up and down in excitement.
"Ok, but before we put the butter in and sit down to eat, what do we need?"
Critical thinking skills are not Gryffin's strong suit, this is why I teach by asking questions. Fortunately, Phoenix can read my mind. "BOWL!" He shouts, and races towards the clean dishes rack. Gryffin has somehow not heard him, and is staring at me in an attempt to divine the answer.
"Should I scoop the oatmeal onto your table?" I ask.
"OH! I need a bowl!" By this time, Phoenix has reappeared with his bowl, and I start dishing him up. Then I add a generous dollop of butter to his bowl.

UH-OH! We've run into a snag! The small table table the boys eat at has been disassemble in an attempt to drag it outside earlier, and in order to eat, they need to reassemble it. They work on that while I add 100% pure maple syrup to Phoenix's bowl. When it's done, Phoenix sits to eat, and Gryffin grabs a bowl. I dish him up, add butter and maple syrup to his bowl, and watch him realize that he needs a spoon - Phoenix had already stolen the one he had grabbed earlier.

Lesson complete! I am fairly confident that Gryffin could make oatmeal all by himself, but I won't tell him that yet because I don't want him to think he can touch the stove without supervision! Maybe I'll pick up a single electric burner from freecycle or the Goodwill so that I CAN trust Gryffin to make his own breakfast, but in the meantime, he'll just have to wait for me!

I'm going to have Gryffin draw out the directions to make oatmeal, and if I remember when he's done, I'll scan it into my computer and post it for everyone to see :-)

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