Irish Soda Bread and Kitchen Control Freaks with Kids

Hi everyone. I want to discuss kids being in the kitchen. An anonymous reader sent this in and I love what they wrote! It is the first time as a blogger that I have to confess that I , too , am very controlling in my kitchen when it comes to mess:

“OK I admit it. I am a control freak and perfectionist in the kitchen. I can’t stand letting my kids help me cook. I am afraid they will make a big mess, ruin the recipe, etc. I am impatient with their lack of technique and skill. Is watching me enough or do I have to let them do it too? I really want them to learn how to cook and feel comfortable in the kitchen. Any suggestions? “

Does it make you a bad person? NO! Why on earth would you want someone ruining your recipe or making a mess? It’s a big pain. Totally understandable. I used to allow my kids to help me and then feel guilty about getting annoyed at them because they made a mess or didn’t help exactly the way I wanted/needed them to help me.

I knew it was important to model the cooking behavior but it was so stressful. One day, I had an epiphany; I gave them a few totally separate ingredients and they could make their own bread, cake, dip, whatever. They could work in a separate area , make a mess in a contained area, and not mess up MY recipe! Perfect! We may end up wasting a few ingredients or cleaning a little, but it is worth it to have them cook with us. They are part of the cooking process, we don’t need a sitter and we are spending quality time with them. Any other suggestions out there? Please comment!

Since St. Patty’s Day is upon us, here is a recipe from the digital cookbook from comcast TV that I discovered last year for Irish Soda Bread. Many Irish people love my recipe so I take that to be a thumbs up.

Irish Soda Bread:

1/4 cup white sugar
3 cups white flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Crisco or veg. shortening (they have one without hydrogenated oils at Whole Foods now which is great!)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
1 cup golden raisins
1 TBS caraway seeds

Sift first 5 ingredients together (buy a sifter!). With a fork, beat into dry ingredients the egg, crisco, and milk. When all are combined, mix in raisins and caraway seeds. Form into a ball, dust the ball with flour, and lay on a greased, round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a fork comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Enjoy!

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4 Responses

  1. Happy St. Patrick’s day to you! I am half irish and just made my grandmother’s soda bread today! (I asked them, but my kids were “too busy playing” to help today…oh well!) I love this stuff! My recipe is similar to yours, but one of my worries was that it can be dry, so this year I added 1/2 cup more butttermilk, and it came out to be the best ever!

    A trick I use when I really want the kids to help cook or bake is to have their own kid-sized aprons and chef hats for them…all of a sudden its role-playing time and they really get into it!

  2. btw, totally enjoying your blog! my kids are good eaters but i have discovered a little secret to trying new items… they love sour cream so i let them mix in a little spoonful of it with mystery items and… gone! tonight their choices for dinner are either a carrot-cheddar soup or lentil soup (made this morning while on a conference call). the sour cream mix-in will turn any idea of resistance into delicious. it works!

  3. I loved this last blog. I am very interested in the idea of a control freak in the kitchen — in thinking about this I actually think that my mother was always pushing me out of the kitchen, which probably is related to the fact the I feel like I have very little skills in cooking. I only started being part of the kitchen when I got much older, but by then it didn’t feel like my space. She had three kids and was working and I am sure just simply couldn’t deal (understandabley!) with showing us what was going on, but she really was a one woman show and I was not an observer or even a helper. I just sat at the table and ate.

    Honestly, I also am not very patient with my kids in the kitchen myself, but maybe if I can let them get a little more involved as they get older, they will take ownership and not feel that the kitchen belongs to someone else like I sometimes still do…maybe this awareness will help me include them.

    holy moly! kitchen therapy! love it!!!

  4. my son has been int he kitchen since he was barely able to stand. at this point he can prepare a few dishes entirely on his own. we really enjoy this time together and self reliance is priceless!

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