Katie flipped through food magazines while we were sitting with a friend's little girls yesterday. This morning she perused the offerings on the food channel. She concocted a menu, and then she asked if she could make dinner tonight. Like I am going to say no to someone else cooking the evening meal here?!
I run Kate to the market to pick up the odds and ends she needs to prepare her meal. Katie reads through her recipes to wrangle the items on the lists for her meal. An impromptu math lesson with someone from the meat department helps us figure out how much ham is in a cup. We total up the prices of Katie's purchases so she also knows what the meal costs. (She thinks food prices are too high for these "Do-it-yourself" items. Ain't it the truth?)
We go to visit friends, but dinner time is approaching. Don picks up Katie who goes home to make dinner while Evan, Erin, and I hang out a little longer. (How cool is that?!) We arrived home just as she reached a point where she needed a hand. Oven preheated to 400, water on the boil, ham cut into a zillion one inch cubes, and she was flummoxed as to which baking dish she should use. We decided to wait until we saw how much macaroni would result from her boxed mac & cheese dinner before zeroing on any particular dish.
I drained her macaroni because the pot was heavy and hot--- and I had visions of the steam or the water burning her hands or arms. She mixed in her cheese and ham cubes before we discovered that there were no peas in the freezer. Uh-oh. She spooned her mixture into an oval baking dish (Oval dishes prevent crunchy, dried-out corners.) and topped it with Mom's home-made bread crumbs and and shredded cheese which was then tucked into the oven for fifteen minutes to heat through.
We raced to wash a pound and a half of strawberries and slice them up. The strawberries joined ice, strawberry yogurt, and, um... cherry Kool-Aid in the blender for Katie's fruit smoothies to close out her meal. Once the slightly disturbing smoothie mixture was ready, Katie hurried to get her salad and macaroni onto a plate and individuals ramekins for serving while I poured the neon red stuff into footed glasses and topped each smoothie with a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of strawberry for a garnish. Enlisting Evan's help, Katie dressed her salads and served up individual plates of Macaroni & Cheese bake with green salad and a fresh Strawberry Smoothie.
It only took two loads of dishes to clean up and a full load of dish towels in the laundry to finish the clean-up. I am considering a strongly worded letter or e-mail to the people at Kraft foods who wrote the smoothie recipe. When your child prepares a dish, you have to eat it... or drink it. And you cannot complain even if the item is so tart that it makes your eyes cross and your lips writhe with contractions. It was a good opportunity to talk about why we try out new recipes before presenting them to other people.