Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Art of Baking Brownies - with kids

Cooking with your kids can be loads of fun! But it can come with a little bit of stress. After a few years of practice, I am willing to throw it all on the line and suggest that I have come up with the very best operational plan for success. Keep reading.

1. Check the clock - this adventure needs to start between 10 and 11 AM. This will be made clear very shortly.

2.  Grab your ingredients:
  • Little Kids
  • Mom/Dad attempting patience
  • Box of Brownie Mix (yes, the box - if you suggest that you would make them from scratch, you either have too much time on your hands or are trying to one-up another poor mom)
  • Water, Oil, Eggs (or whatever you use to make your brownies - I won't throw any punches if you try to make them more (add chocolate chips or toffee pieces!) or less (cook with applesauce?) fattening)
3.  Pre-heat your oven and start making the brownies according to the package directions. I've learned that everyone needs "job".  My daughter prefers to pour the water and the oil.  My son prefers to crack eggs.  Expected, no? :)

4.  Get out a hand-mixer and use it! Yes, I know that the package says something like 50 strokes, but I've found that some sort of "electronic device" really gets the kids attention. Since you can't use a Wii control or an iPad, a hand-mixer is the next best thing.

5.  Pour most of the batter in a greased pan and bake.  The rest will come in handy in just a second.

If you have two children, the next part works well.  If you have more than two children, or an anxious batter-frenzied adult, there may be more compromise that will need to happen. 

6.  Give each kid a beater from the mixer.  This will get them started with the batter-licking phase.  Once those beaters have been licked clean, give each child a spatula and let them work on the rest of the batter in the bowl.

7.  Grab your camera and take some pictures - cause those kiddos are dirty and cute! And they smell like chocolate - who doesn't love chocolate?

And this is where the importance of Step 1 comes in.  By now, it's time for lunch.  And what's for dessert? Those more-than-delicious brownies! But wait, there's more!

Each kid, having happily had a brownie and in need of a nap, waddle off to their rooms for sweet slumber.  (If this isn't a part of your daily routine, add it in!)  And you, the patient adult, get your reward:

8. Grab that pan of brownies; get comfy on your couch; put on an episode of Law and Order, NCIS, an old football game replay, or some HGTV episode that makes you happy (don't even pretend it's not a guilty pleasure!); and dig in!  Your afternoon will pass in a wonderful haze of sugar, chocolate, and bliss. And that dirty kitchen won't matter in the least...

Now, some of you may be thinking, "What about the kids? They only got one brownie at lunch!".  Here is how I see it: at this age, they don't really seem to know just how many brownies they made.  Be generous and cut them each one for later.  And if you're really feeling guilty, just make some more tomorrow, starting with Step 1.

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