I'm so excited to share this post with you, written by Gabe Harder. Gabe has a great spirit about having her little ones in the kitchen with her, and just think of how she's working herself out of a job!
Those of you reading this in a reader will want to click through to see Gabe's adorable children!
Cooking and baking are a big deal in our home. I like to bake, and my kids have always spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen with me learning and "helping." The extra time it took to have them there with me is really starting to pay off now that my older kids (10-year-old girl and 8-year-old and 7-year-old boys) are able to do quite a bit in the kitchen on their own. My younger kids have the same desire to be in the kitchen helping, so recently I came up with the idea of having them make banana bread on their own. This went so well that I plan to have them continue taking turns doing this once a week!
This is the recipe I used. I like that it uses the apple sauce instead of oil. I just picked up some of the individual sized cups of
apple sauce, making this very easy for the little ones to handle. I also use part whole wheat flour, but it works just fine using all
white flour. I've also cut the sugar in half from what the original recipe called for.
Mix well in large bowl:
1 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
4 bananas (mashed)
4 Tablespoons milk
Mix in a separate bowl:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (from soft white wheat)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons nutmeg (or just sprinkle a bunch in)
Add flour mix to liquid mix, and mix well. Pour into greased and
floured loaf pan (this makes one large loaf or two medium loaves).
Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes. It is done when a toothpick
inserted comes out clean.
The night before I measure out the dry ingredients. The flour goes into one container, sugar in another, and baking soda/powder and salt into yet another small container.
My 2 1/2-year-old (who thinks she must be just about 10 like her big sister) was the first to try this. I just sat her down at our little table by the kitchen (also where we do school) with a large bowl, measuring spoons, measuring cup, and the dry ingredients (minus the sugar) and let her have fun! She had so much fun measuring and stirring, but she also took it very seriously. She was making lunch for her family!
*I also let her shake in a bunch of nutmeg from the spice container. She thought that was fun.
After she had mixed all of that up I had her start on a new bowl for the liquids. She measured and mixed the sugar and apple sauce together. I mashed up the bananas for her, and I also added the milk and eggs for her. She mixed the flour into the liquids, though she did need a little bit of help. An older sibling stepped in to help her with greasing the pan and pouring the batter in the pan. I took care of putting it in the oven.
The next week my 5-year-old had his turn. He did a great job, and I even let him crack the eggs on his own. He had not done this before, but I knew he had been watching me and his older siblings. He did a great job making sure that no shell went into the batter and keeping the area clean, even remembering to wash his hands after handling raw eggs. He also needed some help with the last steps, but he was a bit more hands on.
Clean up is an important part of any project around our house, but I also try to keep realistic expectations. My 2 1/2 year old picked up the garbage from the apple sauce and bananas and also took a few dishes into the kitchen. My 5 year old took care of most of the clean up, but the table did need to be wiped down again after he was done. ;)
This activity kept each of my kids busy for a while (which is always GREAT!), but they were in the same area that the rest of us were working. More importantly this gave them a head start on learning some cooking skills and an opportunity for each of them to serve their family. They were each so excited as I took their loaf out of the oven and even more so as we sat down to lunch complimenting them on the good job they had done making lunch for us! This is a great way to help little ones feel like they are contributing to the family and that they are wanted and needed (because they ARE!). Little ones want to help, and so far I've found that by fostering that desire they continue in that attitude for years to come!
*this can also be done with a mix if you don't have time to measure things out ahead of time.