My granny was a proper granny. She had the finest collection of hats known to humanity and a startling number of shoes accrued over seven decades or so.
By night, she wore plastic curlers in her hair and slept with a stick under her bed, ready to fight off assailants. By day, she sat in her rocking chair, knitting and watching black and white war films – that’s if she wasn’t gardening, decorating, cooking, baking, sewing, pressing flowers, making cards or entertaining her grandchildren with infinite patience.
I spent many happy Sunday afternoons perched on a stool by her side in the kitchen baking. We made butterfly cakes, coconut madeleines, melting moments, oat crunchies, eve puddings, apple tarts, jam tarts, toffee, jellies, doughnuts… I could go on, but my mouth’s watering already. My granny used heart-stopping quantities of golden syrup, treacle, sugar and Stork margarine, assuring me they were all good ingredients.
With such sunny memories, you’d have thought I’d have been delighted when my toddler started pulling up a stool of her own, standing alongside me in the kitchen and demanding to ‘do making’. But I’m ashamed to admit the opposite was true.
“The kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house,” I immediately thought. Almost as quickly, I had visions of flour, sugar and egg, splattered over ceilings, walls and every possible surface.
But then I remembered my Granny. And I decided to give it a go.
Believe it or not, it was a lot easier than I thought to get my small sous-chef involved in the kitchen. We started off making simple things for her dinner together, like rice. She enjoyed making her lunchtime sandwich. Yes, that was interesting apparently.
Then, with Daddy on stand-by, we had a go at some muffins. Since then, I’ve been confident enough to cook with her on my own. We’ve done muffins a few times and also some biscuits.
Here’s how it goes.
- I get all the ingredients out when she’s busy playing.
- I remind her that when we’re in the kitchen she needs to listen to what mummy says and not touch things if I don’t say so (she does anyway).
- We pick things that are fairly straightforward, mainly from my lovely little lunchbox.
- Regardless of the recipe, we make sure there’s at least one egg to crack and some scattering of nuts or raisins on top, because that’s fun.
- Afterwards, I sit her in front of an episode of Bob the Builder, while I restore order to the kitchen.
Now that we’ve had a few goes, I actually enjoy it although the results are not quite up to Granny’s (perhaps because of the lack of treacle, syrup, sugar and margarine). The first time we made muffins, she said, “Those are NOT good.” Which made me laugh.
Here are a few relatively straightforward recipes you might want to try with your toddler.