Oliver has decided he likes to Help! This is not a new feature, but it has become more pronounced as the months pass, and now that O is armed with his helping tower his rate of helping has increased dramatically.
O has also acquired the concept of “me tun” – after waiting patiently and watching me do something, he decides it is his turn to undertake the task. It does not matter if the task is vacuum cleaning, unloading the dishwasher, feeding the baby, pressing the buttons on the food processor or spooning muffin batter, eventually, if it is OK for mommy to do, it is OK for O to Help!
The challenge comes with balancing what is truly helpful and what just makes a big mess. We are working on finding balance in the kitchen: chopping cucumbers for the salad is truly helpful – he can manage to do so with a dullish knife, and it does not matter if the cucumber is a uniform size. I will not however, let him chop onions. Pressing food processor buttons is fine too, he’s helping make “foof” for “Pa-tik.”
Then there are things which require no help. The other day P slept late and I felt the need to express some milk. O came into the kitchen where I was pumping, declared “me see boob!” and then attempted to assist with the positioning of the shields. Thanks for the offer, but no help needed.
I try to have several activities through out the day that O can help with. This morning started with a trip to the grocery store where O helped push the cart, bag apples, and navigate to and select the ice-cream. This afternoon, during P’s nap time, he helped bake muffins lemon blueberry muffins.
Helping “cook!” muffins is a finer line: half an extra egg here, some extra salt there, batter dripped all over the counter – my inner baking perfectionist does not appreciate the mess, but the muffins came out tasting alright, and he had a lot of fun while helping “cook cake.” The recipe was fairly forgiving -it held up to my modifications and O’s input- and while they are unlikely to win any awards, they will make for excellent snacks through out the week.
Lemon-BlueBerry Muffins -adapted from CookieChef
Yield: 18-24 muffins
3 1/2 cups + 1 TBSP flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter, melted (no margarine)
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen can be substituted)
Zest of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 450º.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter and lemon zest. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
- Toss blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, and gently fold them into the batter. Spoon batter into lightly greased or papered muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.
- Bake at 450º for 14 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool 10 minutes or so.
My modifications: I cut the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup and added the zest of one lemon. I also omitted the glaze (below) entirely. I also re-wrote the directions so they made more sense (to me anyway).
6 oz. cream cheese, softened (a package is typically 8 oz)
2 tsp lemon zest
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
Optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat softened cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add lemon zest. Gradually add in powdered sugar, beating until smooth. You’ll probably have some left over from this recipe.