Oatmeal our way.
Easy enough that a 9 year old can make it, and does most mornings, all by herself.
Tasty enough that a 4 year old will eat it, without complaint.
Healthy enough that a 33 year old mom can feel good about it.
As for my 7 year old? She drew this:
Clad in purple, she’s “stirring a big pot” and I’m “wearing my red apron and reaching for something in the cabinet”.
When asked what we’re cooking, she answered, “Something. Anything.”
Only 7 and she gets it. It’s not what we’re cooking that’s matters. It’s that we’re cooking. Together.
I won’t lie. Letting little hands measure, pour, and “stir until it’s all one color” takes time and patience. But, it gives them such a sense of pride and accomplishment. And every single time, your child will like whatever he or she made more than if you had made it. Because it’s hers… her pizza, her focaccia, her oatmeal. So, start with something simple, like this recipe. And let your child be head chef, and you be the helper.
Miss Jenny, the beloved preschool teacher that all 3 of mine have had, says about art, “It’s not about the product. It’s about the process”. The same is true for cooking with kids. Laugh at mistakes and know that you can always call for pizza.
Choose a time when you’re not in a rush and can fully enjoy both the company and the cooking. If you’re like me, this probably means a time other than a hectic weeknight when I’m rushing to get dinner on the table. Instead, I block off “Fun Fridays” and let my 4 year old choose a baking project for the day. One to be made in our real kitchen, not in her play kitchen.
Make “something, anything” with your kids but at the same time make “everything” by making time for them.
This is why I cook with my kids.
Oatmeal Our Way
adapted from Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson
makes 4 servings (Don’t worry – Tim has oatmeal, just as toast)
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats (or steel-cut oats)
- 3¾ cups water (or about 6 cups for steel-cut oats)
- healthy pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- couple dashes of cinnamon
- 1 cup raisins, poached in boiling water
- brown sugar, for sprinkling
- apple butter, to dollop
- sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts, toasted (optional)
Bring oats, water, and salt to a boil and then reduce heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Then add applesauce, cinnamon, and raisins. Cook for a few more minutes. Total cooking time for old-fashioned oats will be 5, maybe 10 minutes and for steel-cut oats, 20-25 minutes.
Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with brown sugar (my kids love to watch the brown sugar melt into rivers). Add sunflower seeds or other nuts and add a dollop of apple butter if desired. Finish with a splash of milk.
- omit applesauce and add zest of one orange and substitute sweetened dried cranberries for the raisins or top with blueberries in the summer
- top with maple syrup or honey
- to reduce cooking time for steel-cut oats, soak them in the water the night before