from little things big things grow

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baking is my bliss (and a free meal planner template)

Last year I was lamenting how little I was able to bake with baby around. The first year she was barely not in my arms. Now we are settling into a phase where I can manage cooking with my manic toddler. Often she is clambering on me during the process. I stop when I can and kneel on the ground where I serve as a stool for her to reach the counter. She plays with the coffee machine or the toaster. She loves to press the microwave buttons, fish beans out of the coffee grinder, or dip her hands into a sink full of bubbles (who doesn't?).

Baking together

More recently she enjoys climbing on the counter and hiding the remote in the coffee beans.

Fishing for coffee beans

It took me a while, but I see now, she is my little mimic. My daughter instinctively goes to the kitchen to hunt for me. I love making meals for the family. I look through my subscription to Feast magazine and choose recipes that I can replicate. I meal plan, shop at the markets, and I cook. I realised I've become a bit of a baking hound. When I have spare time I bake. When I'm cranky I bake.

The red baron

Today at the beach Skye fell down some concrete steps. She hurt herself pretty badly and it shook me right up. She is fine now, superficially scratched, spirits high as always. I am more shaken than I expected. So, now that she is down for a nap I have made cookies. Of course.

See what I mean. Baking hound. It's my bliss.

I've had four new chocolate chip cookie recipes printed out, ready for trial. It's been a happy little stash of possibility. This time I added notes to them. I fancy I'm becoming a bit of a kitchen nerd! Quaint, eccentric and driven by butter and sugar blends.

Speaking of nerd, I've posted meal planners on here before. I've designed a new one, more comprehensive, and inspired by the meal planning that I need to do for our family now. Dinners and snacks are not enough any more. The more planning the better the mummy/nerd in me says! Breakfast and lunch need columns too! So here is the new one.

Plate du jour (meal of the day) planner.
Right click to save. 

I hope that it can be helpful for you. I rely on it, but don't always stick to it. But those days when using my brain to do anything but drink coffee is impossible, the meal plan really serves its purpose. One day l'll do one with a column for baking. With room for notes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Toddler bake club

I try to get a stool for her and set her up with pouring items at the sink. Some days it works, mostly it doesn't. She loves the new and exciting. The stool is getting old now. Pick me up mummy, she urges with much desperate pointing and noise making. Then you can move me around all the things.

I've dedicated the bottom drawer to her. Filled it with the strange and wonderful. A medley of unwanted cutlery, small toys and objects from the recycling. I probably should top it up again because as I write about it now I realise it will have gotten old for her. The Tupperware drawer is also hers. She has also taken control of the fridge.

The other week we tried something different. She joined me in the kitchen as I started to pour muffin batter into the muffin pan. I showed her what I was doing, and she helped out by pointing to empty holes, which I filled with batter. I marvelled at her. Marvelled at how that had worked without mess or tears.

She helped pop a raspberry on each one. It was all going so merrily. I thought, aha! Here is our thing. We can do this. I can post pics on social media with the best of the mums. Perhaps use a hash tag like toddlerbakeclub or something cleverer.

As I mused away I realised there was more batter than pan space. I got out another one for us to fill. Perhaps I should have stopped there. Because as I started to fill the new tray, my toddler chef started transferring mix from the first tray to the second with her hands. She patted it down, and scooped it. Then she got an idea. She dropped some on the bench and smeared it. Her happy hands had found their thing! Finger painting. With muffin mixture.

At least there were no problems with her eating this finger paint. It cleaned up easily. And I got my photos. I was strangley comforted too, by the sweet comments applauding mess and imperfection.