Sunday, September 14, 2014

Baking with my Daughters


Recently, I did some baking/cooking with my daughters for a school project.  I've been thinking about it a lot so I thought I'd write about it and preserve it in time. 


First off, I was having a really bad day.  I had been out of town for work for a few days.  I came home to a sleeping house at nearly midnight on a Wednesday night.  I woke up at six the next morning, before anyone else was awake and dragged myself to work. 


Needless to say, I was exhausted and grumpy all day and although I was looking forward to seeing my children after almost four days without seeing them, the last thing I really wanted to do was bake. 


After work, I managed to get into an argument with my husband (the result of limited communication opportunities while I was away) and I angrily went to three different stores to pick up the required ingredients for the recipes that we were going to be using. 


It was raining.  I was trying to navigate through grocery store aisles as I looked at my phone for the recipes my husband was sending me and I was getting phone calls on top of that.  I love the rain, I view it as a blessing, but generally not when I'm trying to keep a sack of flour dry as drivers who've suddenly forgotten how to drive, splash through grocery store parking lots. 



This was what I looked like coming in from the rain.
(Add in a big chick, subtract the crocodile.)

I came home grumpy and completely unconcerned with what we were going to have for dinner and immediately started baking with my daughter, Si:baƱ. 

She had chosen to make Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti.  I had never made biscotti before, so I had no idea what we were in for.  I hadn't even seen the recipe before we got started.

I sat across from her, ready to answer any questions she had, as she slooooowly mixed the ingredients together. 

A friend of mine was texting me, mostly about my bad day.  I decided to send her a video of the agony I was going through as my daughter sloooowly mixed the ingredients. 


I made a Youtube of the video I sent her: http://youtu.be/DCkarYwXBAA
(And yes, you can hear me tell my daughter, Ani, to "shut up.  Do your powerpoint."  I was joking.  She laughed.)

My friend responded to the video with, "I would've taken over.  Or told my kids, follow the directions, I'll be in the shower."

As much as I would like to do that, it's not even an option in my household... yet. 

My mom didn't often tell me or show me how to do things in the kitchen.  I don't think it's a coincidence that I don't like to cook.  I learned about baking from reading recipe cards that came in the mail.  You were supposed to be enticed to buy a binder to put them in, then you'd get more in the mail, but my mom never bought them.  So I just read about frosting cakes and making candy (though I didn't actually ever make anything). 

I want my daughters to be able to do things by themselves and feel confident about them.  I hated my mom's impatience when I was a kid.  I always dreaded asking her for help or for her to explain something to me. 

I learned by making mistakes, but the mistakes weren't simply accepted.  They were questioned, "Why didn't you do it like this?!"
"Um...cause... no one told me to do it like that..." 

My daughters and I have come a long way with our baking.  They've learned how to read measurements and follow a recipe, and I've learned how to appear patient and positive.  


Please note that I don't always feel patient or positive, but I've learned that it's important for me to wait for them to ask for help.


When my daughters bake, it is both a high and a low for me.  I feel great when we pull the finished product out of the oven and I can see the pride and delight in my daughter's face that she accomplished something.  The low comes both before and after she pulls the finished product out of the oven.  The low comes as I'm sitting across from her as I coach myself into being more patient and loving.  I feel awful each time, wishing I was a more patient person.  The second low comes when I see her finished product and know that I had to push myself to be positive about something that clearly makes my daughter happy and proud. 


Each time I bake with my daughters, they do a little better, and I do a little better too.  I feel like it's a test of my parenting.   


One cool thing is that they choose to make things that I never would have thought of.  Sometimes, we learn together. 

My husband and I are currently obsessed with biscotti.  I had never made them before in my life, and probably never would have thought to look up a recipe for them, but since this project, I've made biscotti twice and just bought more ingredients for another batch to make tonight.  If it hadn't been for this project, my life would be biscotti-less. 


It's a terrible fate.


Here are Si:ban's

Biscotti dough.  I was worried that her classmates would be grossed out by the green pistachios, but they loved them.
The dough was really thick. 
This is when I thought she'd ask for help, because the ends were breaking off a little.  But she didn't want my help.
I know this photo looks like it came straight off of Martha Stewart's website, but it didn't.  These are my Si:ban's, made start to finish all by herself. 














Here are Ani's blinis, which we made the same night as the biscotti, above: 
The beginning of blini batter.
A mini blini.  Made, start to finish, by Ani.
A close-up of the mini blini.

Here's a video of how we made Ani's blinis: http://youtu.be/Pw_1-H2LEA8?list=UUZhqA5TAQZlXxy_CQZR-cFw
She says something about an onion, because in the directions, it said you could use a piece of onion to grease the pan.  We skipped that suggestion and used a pastry brush.  (No, we don't use it for painting)

I'm not using this blog post to ask for a pat on the back or a pep talk.  I'm simply recording where I am as a parent, and where my daughters are as bakers.  I think we tend to not make a big deal of the small accomplishments of teenagers, but I once wrote a blog about my daughter learning to tie her shoe, and reading it years later, when we're closer to the year they learn how to drive, rather than the year they were potty trained, brought me to tears.