A batch of the more uniform cookies my family knocked out with our new stand mixer the other day. The kids are so proud. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

A batch of the more uniform cookies my family knocked out with our new stand mixer the other day. The kids are so proud. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Simpson: Making memories amid the mess

I’ve taught my four-year-old to crack eggs.

When doing my background research for this column I learned that I’ve written about it before!

Back in the second week of December of 2018, I wrote a column entitled “Christmas baking with kids is not tidy”.

Well if that isn’t the understatement of the year.

“Just picture a small child standing on a chair and still not being tall enough to reach very far across the counter. Visualize her kind of half on that chair, half climbing onto the counter. Then imagine the counter being covered in flour,” I wrote. “She looked like a ghost by the end. I’ll admit I was quite pale by the end, too.”

As they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” My children are two years older now but the mess remains.

The recipes are a bit more involved, I don’t pre-measure ingredients for them to dump into the bowl anymore, and the kids have jobs that involve more than just stirring.

I’ve taught my four-year-old to crack eggs. It’s one of her favourite jobs. I think she feels powerful.

“Crack it like you mean it!” I say, pumping her up for the task.

“Crack it like you mean it!” she shouts before aggressively banging an egg on the side of the bowl. Sometimes she nails it but more often than not I’ve got a cloth ready for her to wipe off her hands and/or the counter while I try to covertly rescue bits of shell from the batter.

A couple of weeks ago, we were making ginger molasses cookies and for some reason I agreed to let her test out the hand-mixer. I’m all about empowering my daughter. She loves cooking and baking so much she’d like to open a muffin shop up when she grows up, so when she wants to try new things in the kitchen, I’m not going to say no. I’m going to help her and teach her how to do it.

She’s named her dream shop “SpatuLove” and because she’s four, she intends to build an in-ground pool, with a lifeguard of course, in the backyard “because people like to have a little swim when they eat their muffins.”

Who am I to argue? Though she also does want to close the shop up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so she can go home and eat.

I might advise against that.

Anyway, back to the mixer. Have you ever seen butter, sugar, and eggs fly out of a mixing bowl and splatter everywhere? I’m still finding chunks of the hardened concoction in the strangest of places. Like inside the kitchen light fixtures or in the little spaces between the cupboards and the stove. Maybe that man who told me my kitchen was gross is right?! I can assure you he’s not but it’s sure hard to argue after baking with kids. The fact that I know what’s between the cupboard and the stove should tell you something.

I regained control of the mixer just in time for it to die in my hands. I feel better about that than if it had bit the bullet in the hands of my novice sous chef but truthfully, it was a bit sad. I’ve had that mixer my entire adult life. I’m a kitchen minimalist. I like to get buy with as few appliances as possible, so it got a lot of use but with loss comes opportunity!

Instead of a new hand-mixer, my mom gifted me with a new stand mixer as an early Christmas present. All these years I’ve been missing out on the ease that comes with a stand mixer! Who knew?! We’ve made more Christmas cookies in the last two weeks than ever before. It’s a good thing in that we’re creating new holiday traditions because we can’t travel to my hometown for Christmas this year but it’s not as good for the waistline if you know what I mean.

The other day my daughter and I mixed up what Holly from the internet calls The BEST Christmas Cookies. The cool thing about this food blogger’s basic shortbread cookies was that they were coloured.

Food colouring? That piqued the interest of my son, who roped his dad in and all of a sudden my little family of four was having an absolute blast dividing the plain dough into different bowls and mixing colours to get the shades of green and red just right.

My husband rifled through the drawers and found all sorts of things with patterns for the kids to flatten cookies with and the kids found the sprinkles and added some to a handful of the cookies for some added pizzazz. We ended up with a super messy kitchen, with 72 oddly shaped cookies in “plain”, “green” and a shade of pink we’re passing off as red, and with a new pre-Christmastime memory I will never forget.

I’ll take the mess. I’ll take the extra calories. I’ll wash the extra dishes time and time again to make those cookies — and those memories — with my family.

And hey, if in the future you see a bakery with an outdoor pool, called SpatuLove, stop in; my family might be there making cookies together.

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sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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