Amelia has started cooking.
She cooks twice a week. The twice weekly cooking incidence involves the stove and oven. She cooks dinner on a Friday and bakes during the weekend. I pay her to do both.
She also makes lunches for herself and her brother. This does not involve any heated appliances, generally. I also pay her for this.
The theory was that I could pay her to do some low level cooking which would firstly, take some chores off my hands, secondly, earn her some money, and thirdly, give her some valuable life skills.
The irony of this entire scenario is the amount of time it now takes me to:
- Harass her to ensure that we eat dinner before 10pm,
- Shout at her to ensure both she and her brother have lunches made BEFORE they depart for school
- Threaten her to ensure there is some baking in the tin so they actually have something to put into their lunch boxes other than fruit and sandwiches
- Clean up the low level natural disaster zone she leaves behind after she has finished
The food is great! The fact that I don’t have to make it is great! The endless cleaning up when she’s done, not great.
I’ve always felt like a bad mother for not really wanting my children to attempt cooking when they were small. Given my love of food, you would think that I would be the model foodie mother, encouraging little hands into mounds of bread dough, to stir cake mix, to carefully cut carrots. But no. Between being terrified of little hands being cut by sharp knives, or worse, grated (!!), I just couldn’t handle the mess.
I’m hardly a neat freak. My husband will tell you when we first were together he couldn’t cope with my idea of tidy versus his uber fastidiousness. Even then I cannot handle clouds of flour flying into the air, cheese being grated onto the floor, batter being spilt all over the bench.
I don’t think it’s fussiness, it’s mostly that I’m a bit lazy, I can’t stand cleaning at the best of times, and I prefer to minimise the amount I have to do. So I’ve avoided teaching my kids to cook until now.
Now I’m reminded of why I’ve left it for so long, as the dishes pile up in the sink, potato and carrot peelings scatter over the floor, and the rubbish in the bins begins to over flow, while my teenaged daughter creates a culinary masterpiece.
Then come the endless questions.
In moments of good motherhood, I have actively encouraged my kids to ask questions. “People who ask questions learn more” is the general gist of conversation. Except I prefer that to apply to school rather than home life. At home, I quite like not too many questions.
I particularly like an absence of questions that start with “Mum, where’s…”
When partnered with cooking, the “where” questions are matched with a stream of “how” questions (which I know is fair enough, given the girl doesn’t know how to cook yet). I’m not renowned for my patience.
Despite the mess, the irritation, the lack of actual time saved, Amelia is doing a pretty good job. Her food is delicious, made even more so by the sheer fact that I didn’t have to do it myself. She’s getting better at preparation, following recipes, and serving well cooked, well balanced meals.
It’s been worth it. I should have taught her sooner.
EXTRA FLUFFY CHEESE SCONES
Makes 6-8 generous scones
Originally this recipe was made with lemonade, but I found it weirdly sweet with the cheese. I’ve changed out the lemonade for soda water, which retains the dough’s lightness, but removes the extra sugar. If you want to make these extra indulgent, you can add in crispy bacon pieces (4 streaky rashers, cooked until brittle) or caramelised onions (1/2 onion, sauted until very soft).
2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups grated cheese
150ml plain soda or sparkling water
- Pre-heat oven to 220°C, and line a baking tray with baking paper
- Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl
- Stir through grated cheese
- Pour over milk and soda water, and stir until just combined. Do not over mix or the scones will be hard.
- Pour the dough out on the baking tray (the mix will be very sticky and wet) and spread out until it’s about 5cm thick.
- Dip a knife into flour and cut the dough into roughly equal pieces.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot with lashings of butter.