The Art of Baking Cookies

cookies

A Post by Beautiful -

Our boys are at an age where they are becoming exponentially more capable. They can make their own toast in the morning and bring a borrowed pan back to the neighbor’s house, they order their dinner at restaurants and can wink and say words like “dehydrated” or “dramatic” or “cattywompas” in a sentence correctly. I mostly feel like they could do anything and that James and I are merely observers to their ever-growing independence, occasionally reaching something out of their range or explaining the way something works, but mostly just supervising.

There are still a few things that my boys cannot do, though. Things that require patience and a certain art that comes from practice. This weekend I called my mom for her sugar cookie recipe and assembled the ingredients with the boys as my assistants. They added teaspoons of baking soda and vanilla and dumped cups full of flour into the bowl with careful precision. But then we rolled the cookies out on the dining room table and the boys pummeled their ball of dough, adding more and more flour until the cookie cutter-ed result on the baking sheet had the consistency of dried paper mache. I tried to guide the use of flour and explain that the cookies tasted better when the dough is soft. This had little effect.

I scooped a large hunk of dough out onto the floured table, rapidly rolled it out into a thick slab and cut cookies from the still soft dough.  I outpaced them with my cookies. As I did this, the memory of my mom doing this exact thing came to me. She would fill two pans with circle-shaped cookies cut with the rim of an inverted juice glass while we labored over a few intricate reindeer and angels. She let us participate and enjoy it while she knocked out the cookies we would eat later. We learned to make better, softer cookies as we grew up. I’m glad there are things that we learn this way. I’m glad everything doesn’t come from information or from ability. Some things come from a family recipe, and a feel for the dough and a mom who shows you the art of it until you know it yourself.

Cooking with Kids thanks to Whole Foods

Last week the boys and I went to Whole Foods downtown and learned to make “Lazy Lasagna” with chef Matt Talavera. We were there with a couple of other parents who blog to make a healthy meal for our family and to learn about a couple of things Whole Foods is doing in Portland and around the nation through their Whole Kids Foundation. The kitchen was situated above the store with huge windows overlooking the ailes of shoppers and food. We grabbed our spot on the end of the table, pulled up a couple of chairs so the boys could reach the ingredients and got started making a tasty beet salad to eat there and Lasagna to take home and share with Grandpa Tom Tom when he comes to visit this week.

The boys were adventurous eaters and commented on everything they tasted like the annoying, precocious, and cute kids that they are. Primo said that the sweetness of the caramelized nuts went well with the saltiness of the goat cheese, and they ate every bite of the beet salad. They had fun building the layers of the lasagna and getting there hands messy with sauce and cheese and then licking them clean. When we were finished you could see how proud they were of the dinner they made and I can’t wait to relive the story when we eat their meal with Tom Tom. Including kids in food preparation not only encourages them to be creative adventurous eaters but also helps build an understanding of where food comes from and what different tastes add to meals.

After the meal was prepared we got a chance to taste a Lasagna that was cooking as we assembled ours and it tasted great. It was a simple meal made with fresh ingredients and all of us enjoyed every bite. We brought our tupperware home and told Beautiful all about how the boys are now chefs too. A cooking class with your kids is a great activity to think about doing by the way. Let me know if you want any of the recipes from our time and if you live in Portland be sure to check out The School Lunch Shakedown Tour at Sunday Parkways, OMSI, or Chapman Elementary School. you can find more information below:

The School Lunch Shakedown Tour Wheels Around Portland

 

WHAT:         Whole Foods Market and B-Line Cycles will be cruising around Portland giving away free salad shakers – healthy salads layered with fresh vegetables in shakeable containers – to children and families at five different locations Sept. 24 and 25. The tour promotes the new Whole Kid’s Foundation School Garden Grant Program, which provides grants for school and community gardens.

During this rolling tour, kids who sign a pledge to eat healthy school lunches will be entered into a drawing to win one of two $250 gift certificates to the Bike Gallery. (One boy and one girl winner will be selected.) By making the pledge, kids (12 and under) will earn a one-year membership to the Whole Kid’s Club which entitles them to a free healthy food item each time they visit a local Whole Foods Market store.

Information will also be provided to parents, letting them know how they can apply to the Garden Grant Program on behalf of their neighborhood school or community garden.

 

WHEN:         Saturday and Sunday September 24 and 25

 

WHERE:       OMSI Power to the Pedal event, 1945 SE Water Ave.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Chapman Elementary School Swift Watch, 1445 NW 26th Ave.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Sunday Parkways at Woodlawn Park, NE 13th Ave. and Dekum St.
Sunday, Sept. 25, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Sunday Parkways at Alberta Park, NE 22nd Ave. and Killingsworth St.
Sunday, Sept. 25, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Sunday Parkways at Fernhill Park, NE 37th Ave. and Ainsworth St.
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

 

COST:           FREE

 

Family traditions: Home Made Tortillas

New Year’s day means Huevos Rancheros at my parents house, it has for as long as I can remember. We don’t always make it there to enjoy the eggs and tomatoes and fresh tortillas but if we are any where close we make it a priority. Growing up, there were a number of favorite meals that my brother and I had but none compared the home made tortillas my mom would make. We would meticulously keep track of how many the other had eaten to make sure we weren’t getting cheated of our fair share. Tearing off bits of tortilla and scooping up what ever tasty meal they came with is a strong nostalgic part of growing up in our house. When I left home my mom sent me off with a printed out recipe in a plastic sheet, so I could make my own tortillas. Though I had made them with her a number of times, as with every great Mom recipe, they never turn out quite as good as hers.

After Primo was born in Indianapolis my parents came out to meet him and take care of us a bit. Holding the one week old little blond boy in her arms my mom said “There is no Flores in this boy at all.” It’s true. He is Norwegian through and through but that doesn’t mean he won’t be learning how to make tortillas too. Taking stock of the empty fridge on Saturday night I found that we had some eggs, some Chorizo, and some cheese so I checked the cupboard for the simple ingredients for tortillas. We had the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the shortening so I called primo into the kitchen with me and gave him his first lesson in the art of fresh tortillas. We measured out the flour, with him scrapping the excess off the measuring cup with a wooden spoon. He clumsily measured the baking powder and salt into the bowl. We choose connection over perfection this night. We mixed in the shortening getting our hands greasy and thick with flour. Warm water added to bring everything together, we had a nice big ball of dough ready.

Primo cracked the eggs in a bowl as I got the Chorizo going in a pan. We got the flat cast iron pan heating up on another burner and we took turns whipping the eggs up into a good scramble. What he lacks in technique he makes up for in enthusiasm. After washing our hands we got out the rolling pin, a large wooden cutting board, and the flour to get started on forming the tortillas. I told him about the times watching grandma make these and how uncle Mark and I would fight. I told him how grandma learned from her mom and how I never met her but know a lot of stories. We were sharing history as we formed the round flat discs. Adding flour to the board and the rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. We were both dusty from floured hands wiping brows but this too was part of it, the process.

Primo watched the first tortilla cooking on the pan. Watched it bubble and tighten as it cooked, the extra flour turning brown on the hot skillet. He flipped it over with his spatula, a little later than we wanted. We realized our pan was too hot and talked about all the things that go into making the food we eat. The little factors we try to juggle when making dinner. We grated cheese and spread it over the Chorizo and egg scramble. Made a salad and finished cooking the rest of the tortillas before tracking down mommy and segundo for dinner. He was proud to have mommy taste his meal, telling her about grandma and grandma’s mom. He is story teller too. He carries the fire.