It's clobbering time!
My kitchen is an island galley and I love it. Long and narrow, it accomodates multiple cooks. The island maximizes work space by allowing cooks to spread out. This is really helpful when I find myself in the kitchen with my two little sous chefs, something that happens more and more these days.
I love being in the kitchen with my kids. It feels all homey and lovey and warm and good. Our biggest problems with the kids Is that they are happy. Pathologically so. Laughter, smiles—all in extremes. Their joy is contagious to a point. And then it just becomes…enough.
Not that I don’t want them to be happy. I do. I just want, you know, some quiet. Cooking requires thinking and I find absurd youthful happiness an impediment to that process.
Friday the children demanded that we make Chinese dumplings. We had success with our veg dumpling filled raviolis, but they wanted to get more authentic and use the bamboo steamer I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond with my Discover Card Reward Points (courtesy of the kitchen remodel).
I had dumpling wrappers from the Asian market in my freezer, but the ingredients in them are a bit superfulous and, honestly, I found the smell unappetizing. Plus, I heart my pasta maker and knew that we three Mirels could do better than the frozen wraps that were grossing me out.
Flour. I chose organic bread flour with a high gluten content because I thought that would add a nice chew to the wrapper. I didn’t like it—tasted too endospermy to me. But the kids didn’t mind. They each had at least six in one sitting. A great way to get spinach into them.
Venumadhava and Madhumati pretty much did everything, save for making the filling and mixing the dough. Okay. That sounds like I did a lot, but they were the key assemblers. Child labor rocks!
Vegetarian jiaozi filling: spinach, mushrooms, tofu, ginger.
Madhumati rolling the dough through the pasta maker.
We used the 4th setting because our favorite dumplings @ Yuan Fu are thick and doughy.
I need to get a slightly bigger cutter, but this one worked okay.
Each child was given a wad of dough to roll, cut, fill and pinch.
Next time...when I have "alone time"....I will bi-fold them and pinch. But this was an easier styling for the kids.
They loved arranging cabbage leaves in the steamer, setting their dumplings in it and stacking the baskets.
Our finished dumpling dinner!
But wait. There's more! After we ate the children assisted me *again* in the kitchen. Cleaning up? Ha ha ha. No. I needed lemons juiced for the next day's salad dressing so I let them play with our latest toy, courtesy of kitchen remodel reward points. And yes, my countertop is now etched. And no, it does not bother me one bit. Viva!
I candied the lemon peels. Not as great as when I made them last January since I only had brown sugar and sucanat (I used the brown). I need to get me some crystals soon. The kids wanted to cut the peel but this requires some nimble knife work. The kids love cutting. Damn Montessori education. Unfortunately, there is not a drop of Amish blood in my body so it worries me silly. My solution? Don't look!
Oops. Forgot to mention that we ran the leftover dough scraps through the pasta maker to make noodles...
...which we fried in coconut oil...
...admired them for their crisp bubbled golden crunch....
...and then continued to photograph like the crazed food obsessed person that I am. "Can we eat them now?" Ho-hum. "Yes you may."
Cooking with Kids: The Recipe
Due to the nature of working with kids, this recipe is rather ad hoc and can be adjusted depending on the kids you have on hand.
*Take lots of time. Now double it.
*The space requirement for this recipe is excessive, although you will find the children sticking to you regardless of room in the kitchen. Make sure you continue to spread them out, however keep checking on them to make sure they are on task and not eating the raw ingredients. Ahem, my daughter.
*Step stools, elbow room, spare dough and wet towels should all be on hand ready to go.
My hope is that having my kids in the kitchen with me will be something they look back on fondly as adults. The children really are more interested in what’s for dinner if they have a part in making it, although making it does take about 4 times as long. But hey, if you are a stay at home mom, what else do you have to do? Besides laundry.