Friday, April 23, 2010

Granny Nannys

Today the sun is shining and spring is bursting out all over. It is a fabulous day to drink in the fresh air and breathe the solitude. I walked to CURVES, enjoying the cardio,and tried to decrease my best time by five minutes--I made it!

There were five other women there working out and no one was talking--unusual since the place is normally buzzing with words of advice and encouragement. This particular group of ladies were my age, so I asked if they were grandmothers. All except one raised their hands and started talking at once. Then, just as I had suspected, all the grandmas said they at least took care of their grandchildren part of the time. I asked, "Do you play, cook, read, or garden with them?"

They all said, "Yes."

I asked, "Are your own off-spring as involved with their children at home as you are when you are caring for them?

One wise lady said, "Of course not. I'm the one that gives full attention to their care when they're with me. I don't have to stop and do the laundry, vacuum, or worry about my job when they're there. I enjoy every minute--this is my second time; I'm going to do it right."

You know she's got a point. You can always worry about mundane house work when they're gone, but who is going to teach them how to make real Macaroni and Cheese, or cookies from scratch? Who's going to turn off the TV and eat a meal at the table?

When they have questions, don't sent them to the net, you are full of wisdom! If you don't know the answer, at least go on the net with them, or do it the old fashioned way and look it up in those encyclopedias you bought 30 years ago. Maybe you will learn something yourself.

The point is let's live a real life, not a virtual life. You have been there, done that, but will your grandchildren experience the real thing? You can see to it--it is your last chance. And to all you parents who work your tail off. Thank God for the Granny Nannys! If you are out of work, thank God that you get to do all these great things with your kids.

Now let's make some "real macaroni and cheese".

Real Macaroni and Cheese Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook 12 ounces of macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile mince 4 tablespoons of onion and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a sprinkle of pepper. Slowly stir in 2 cups of milk while you stir the sauce. When the macaroni is done to taste, drain but keep in pot. To the pot add: the white sauce, 1 1//2 pound of grated cheddar cheese, (save about a cup for topping) the onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and a little pepper. Pour the macaroni into a buttered casserole dish, top with remaining cheese, and dot with butter. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. This should make about 7 or 8 servings. Your kids will be calling their friends over for dinner--at the table!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making Bagels with the Princess

Friday was a red letter day! Normally the princess and I walk to the library on Fridays, but since it rained, we opted for making bagels at Grandma's house instead. She hogged the umbrella while we ran toward my place in the rain. Arriving, we took off our rain gear and washed our hands.

Since I'm writing a cookbook for adults working with children, this would be just one more practice run. I asked her if she was ready to make the bagels, but she said she wanted to make cookies with sprinkles instead. I told her that she could put butter, or cream cheese and jelly on the bagels after they baked, but we would save the cookies for another day. She reluctantly agreed as we got out the materials we would need.

When you cook with children, there are several things you need to remember: children are germ factories, so make sure they have clean hands, and take care to keep them safe from hot or sharp items. If it is a particularly messy job don't forget an apron. Well, the apron was something we forgot.

We measured and mixed and then came the kneading. The princess pounded the dough until there was a cloud of flour around us. She loved it and so did the dough. (Remember not to let children eat raw yeast dough as it can cause stomach discomfort. (Interruption time came with a potty break. I looked in the bathroom mirror and discovered that Lana wasn't the only one who had flour all over her. Even my face was gritty! I cleaned off as much flour as I could--too late for the apron. We washed up and went back to the dough. All these short interruptions didn't seem to adversely affect the bagels at all. In fact they were better than ever. Even when Lana leaned on a rising bagel just before it was to be boiled, it rose to the occasion.

Be patient and, if you love to bake, your children will love it too. Cleaning up and bathing you can always do later, but this moment only happens once. Now try this recipe and avoid my pitfalls. Cooking with children is an awesome experience. Just see how proud they are when they get to share with their friends and family. You can always double the recipe, and don't forget the apron!

Barb's Bagels (makes 1 dozen)

In a large mixing bowl combine: 1 3/4 cups of flour and 2 packages of yeast.

In a large measuring cup combine: 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Pour water mixture into flour mixture and beat until all flour is combined. Then continue mixing on high with mixer or wire whip for about three minutes. Stir in remaining 2 3/4 cups of flour. Turn out on floured surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover and let it rest for about 15 minutes. (Read a picture book.) Cut dough into 12 portions and shape into smooth balls by flattening and pulling the edges to the center. Punch a hole in the center and enlarge it by putting both index fingers through the center and twirling until the hole is about an inch across and smooth with a uniform shape. With a little practice, you will get good at this. Cover and let the dough rest on a floured board about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour about a gallon of water into a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Beginning with bagels that were formed first, drop four or five at a time into hot water. Cook for 7 minutes, turning once. Place the boiled bagels on a wire rack to drain. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the bagels on the sheet; remember they will not get larger in the oven. You may sprinkle them with your favorite toppings--poppy seed, sesame seed, reconstituted dried onion or garlic. Spray the bagels with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm or cold. They taste great when toasted with your favorite cream cheese, butter, jelly, or lox, red onion, and tomato. Enjoy!