Friday, April 26, 2013

Cooking Lessons and an Enchilada Recipe

Making her sauce
Stirring the enchilada sauce
I stood over the stove, not quite four years old, my face screwed up in concentration as I carefully broke the egg over the pan.  The fact that the yolk didn’t break (although a few bits of shell may have crumbled into there) filled me with satisfaction.   My aunt had been skeptical about allowing me to break the egg, fearing I would make a mess and it would be wasted.  But my mom let me try it anyway.  Her confidence nourished my soul far more than the slightly shell-shocked egg fed my tummy.

Some of my happiest childhood memories were at the house of our adopted English grandma, spending weekends doing whatever I wanted.   That usually consisted of eating all kinds of yummy foods, reading or watching old Disney movies till dawn, and listening to her stories of being one of the first female bobbies, of coming to the US as a war bride, and the time she and her best friend went on vacation by themselves when they were eight years old.  She taught me the delights of warm bread with real butter (none of that fake stuff for her!), English tea, comforting stews, and her favorite goulash, and they somehow became inextricably linked with the fearlessness, humor and resourcefulness that featured in her tales.

Cooking was always my therapy.  Not so much the eating of the food, but the creative challenges of making my own recipes that fit the ingredients we had available, the imaginative flights to far away places with the scent of a new spice or the fresh tang of an exotic new fruit.  The joy of hearing other people praise a new creation that had come from my own head and hands.  Of course, there were a few spectacular failures, such as the time my ten year old self blithely omitted the baking powder in the cookies, but nothing that dampened my enthusiasm for long.  I still bake when I am stressed out.
My kidlets caught the cooking bug early, too, and have all cooked along with me since they could stand on a chair.  At two, they were staging their own epic Iron Chef battles.  By the time they were five, they knew how to turn on the stove and make their own quesadillas.  Last night, my nine year old made over 120 enchiladas for a party tonight.   She made the red salsa, since it is her recipe, and my seven year old son volunteered to make the green salsa (but only if we left out the onions).  Filling the warm, lightly fried tortillas that are still drippy from the salsa and rolling them up was a group project led by the four year old, and the two year old, who firmly declares herself in charge of all things cheese related, insisted upon sprinkling cheese over the enchiladas (while snitching several handlfuls for herself).

Cooking with kids takes longer.  It is messier.  I always wind up biting my tongue repeatedly when I have the urge to make “suggestions”.  And that is what makes it worth it.

Each time that I surrender my compulsion for control, refrain from criticizing or offering advice, and openly demonstrate confidence in my kids, their eyes shine just a bit brighter, their shoulders straighten just a tad.  Each time someone exclaims at how delicious their food turned out to be, their grins stretch from ear to ear.

What if God does that with us?

Read the rest (and get Ariana's recipe) over at A Deeper Family.

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