For a messy fun time!

Chores For Babies

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Kate and Turk doing their chores

Much like cooking, doing chores around the house is a great way to teach responsibility, improve ability to follow directions, and can be lots of fun if treated as such.  Kate has a list of daily chores that she is expected to do with little or no prompting.  They are all very simple and age appropriate, but are not up for negotiation.
  • She sets her place at the table before each meal.  
  • She brings her dishes, cup, and utensils over to the kitchen sink after each meal.
  • Before nap time and bedtime, or if we are leaving the house, she puts all of her toys away.  We have a bin or drawer or cabinet in each room, so this is pretty easy for her to accomplish.
  • After bath time, she puts her toys back in the bath bag.
  • When I sweep or vacuum, she gets out her broom or vacuum and “helps.”  While this isn’t particularly helpful, she loves to do it, and is a good practice.

Some things that she also does with prompting and assistance.

  • Separating her and her sister’s cloth diapers, and putting them into the correct drawers.
  • Matching up socks.
  • Putting her laundry into the proper bins.  We have one for shirts, one for pants, one for skirts, and one for socks, so this isn’t too challenging.  Anything that needs to remain neat just gets hung up by me.
  • Loading and unloading the plastic kid things out of the dishwasher.
  • Putting new toilet paper rolls on the holders.
  • Dusting with a duster.

And perhaps her most important and most dearly loved tasks of the day; feeding, watering, and training the dogs.  Oh yes, you read that right.  She trains the dogs.  I can’t take credit for that one.  She started that all by herself.  Our biggest struggle since she learned to crawl has been that she wanted to play with the dogs food and water.  A few months ago, I wondered if I could manage this situation in a different way other than just constantly telling her no, so I put her in charge of making sure that they always had food and water in their bowls.  She checks their bowls constantly, and will get their food herself, and bring me their water bowl saying “Watee them” which I am pretty sure means “Water for them.”

It didn’t take long before my little copycat kid had noticed that when I gave them their food, I made them sit, stay, and wait until I said “ok” before letting them eat.  Sure enough, she started doing the same.  Then she took it one step farther, and started asking for cookies for them throughout the day and doing sit and stay work.  I can’t say they minded!

Kate has plenty of playtime every single day.  We do all sorts of fun things in and out of the house, so please don’t think that I keep her nose to the grindstone in any fashion.  But I do expect that, young as she is, she can still be learning to respect her home and have some responsibility.  You should see how proud of herself she is when she finishes any of these tasks, and when she gets a “well done my love” or a stamp on her hand to thank her for helping, she just lights up.

Finnish Oven Pancake With Sauteed Apples

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Finnish Oven Pancake With Sauteed Apples

This recipe was recommended to me by my lovely friend Leila, who has convinced her guests that she is a domestic goddess by prepping the batter at night and baking the pancake in the morning.  It is definitely one of those foods that comes off as far more difficult and impressive to make than it actually is, so keep this one in mind when thinking of brunch ideas for guests.

While there are many versions of this recipe floating around, I can’t imagine that it could possibly get any better than this one, reprinted with permission from the Foodie With Family website.  While you are waiting for this to finish baking, head over to the fabulous Rebecca Lindamoo’s website and peruse all of the delicious recipes and great household tips she’s got stashed on there.

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2010/12/02/finnish-oven-pancakes-pannukakku/

Without further ado, Finnish Oven Pancake With Sauteed Apples…

Ingredients for Pancake:

  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 of one stick) butter, cut into three or four pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • up to 4 Tablespoons sugar, optional
  • splash of vanilla extract, optional

Ingredients for sauteed apples

  • 3 Macintosh apples, peeled and diced, then lightly squirted with lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar depending on how sweet you want it
  • Pinch of cinnamon
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Baking With Babies Tip: Pre-measure and present each ingredient in its own separate vessel. Coffee cups work well because of the large handle, but I’m hoping to find something that isn’t breakable to use instead.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  When the oven temperature reaches about 300°F, place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it.  The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating.

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This was her favorite part. She spent awhile organizing the butter, so we didn’t get it into the oven at 300F as recommended, but it still worked fine.

Place the eggs, f lour, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla (if using) in the carafe of a blender.  Fix the cover in place and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even (we used a mixer and it worked fine.)

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While she has gotten very good at adding the ingredients as directed, I still help her to pour so that we don’t have shards of broken glass in the batter!

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Baking With Babies Tip: Use the electric mixer whenever possible. This eliminates the power struggle over the mixing spoon. Also, my little baking buddy finds this machine fascinating!

When the oven is fully heated, and the butter is fully melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely and pour the batter into the hot pan.  Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the oven pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown.  You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center of the oven pancake.  If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.  Remove the pan from the oven.

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To make the sauteed apples, melt butter in a non stick sauce pan.  Add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until apples are soft and liquid is bubbling.

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Believe it or not, she is actually pretty careful and understands “hot” but if your child doesn’t, please don’t let them help with this step!

Pour apples over pancake, or just shovel them into your mouth.  Both ways taste pretty darn good.

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The taste test verdict….clean plate club in two minutes, and a second helping requested. I guess that equals 5 stars!

I have made this twice now, once in a glass pie plate, and once in a non-stick pie pan.  It came out better in the glass plate, but if you don’t have one, the non-stick works just fine, it just won’t be as tall.  The non-stick also cooked in about 20 minutes, whereas the glass cooked in about 30 minutes.
As Rebecca mentions on the original recipe post on Foodie With Family, you could leave the sugar and vanilla out and use this as a base for a savory dish.  But do yourself a favor and bake it as above first.  There is a very distinct texture and flavor to this dish, almost like a custardy French Toast, so you’d want to take that into consideration when planning your own spin-off.

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My husband and I liked it too, so this isn’t just a kid dessert. In fact, it is a surprisingly mature taste for a kid to like, but I bet yours will like it too!
Final Verdict:  This gets 5 stars for ease of baking with kids.  There are few ingredients, and you probably already have them in your pantry/fridge.  There is no specific order to add the ingredients, so if your baking baby gets ahead of you, it is no big deal.  And there was very little mess.  Win!  As far as taste goes, this was a total hit with everyone in the house, even the 8 month old baby who went to town on the crust.

Welcome!

Welcome to Baking With Babies.  I am sure you are asking yourself why on Earth you would want to bake with babies!  A few months ago, my daughter Kate, who was a year and a half, was falling heavily into the toddler phase.  She was bored and easily frustrated, which resulted in some difficult behavior.  Like every other toddler ever.  Aside from watching tv, the only thing that really seemed to make her happy was watching me cook and clean.  She kept insisting “I help” as she’d yank something out of my hands while I cooked, and fling it all over the place.  It was incredibly irritating to both of us, as she really wanted to be involved, and I really wanted to be able to cook dinner without also having to vacuum the floor!  

At some point, I realized that I was wasting a great opportunity.  She really wanted to cook, and so why not let her?  The first few attempts were a disaster.  Even though I stuck to simple brownie and muffin mixes, there were tears and tantrums.  As you’d imagine, she didn’t understand the rules, and would dump the bowls out, run away with the open bag of mix, stick her head in the bowl to lick the batter, etc.  But over time with a lot of repetition of the rules and a lot of excessive applauding of good behavior, we have gotten to the point where she is actually fun to cook with!  

There are certainly some things that I’ve learned that make this easier.  Prepping all of the ingredients in advance, and setting them out in order in individual cups that are easy for her to pour.  Using the mixer instead of mixing by hand.  Accepting the fact that the counters and floor will need to be cleaned, and that this will take at least twice as long as if I’d done it myself.  And most importantly, selecting the right recipes.

That is why I started this blog.  After we began having some success baking with mixes, I became concerned with the amount of preservatives in those mixes.  We aren’t a calorie counting family, but we do try to eat “real” food.  I went online and tried to look up simple recipes for cooking with kids, and found that most of the kid friendly recipes were either more about assembling food (peanut butter on celery with raisins on it) or were based on those same preservative laden mixes.  

I wanted to share the recipes that I’ve found that have worked very well, as well as those that don’t.  The recipes are rated based on ease of baking with a child, as well as taste (because we are baking primarily for Kate, I am rating taste according to her.)

Please excuse the shoddy photography.  I tend to need three hands while supervising the cooking, so the camera on my phone is about as good as we are going to get!  Also, please try to ignore dirty faces, tangled hair, and mismatched clothes.  She’s a toddler after all, and there is no point in getting dressed up just to make a mess in the kitchen!