cooking with toddlers

When my husband steps in the door from work at night, both of my girls do the necessary shrieking, running, hugging, etc. But as soon as that business is taken care of, my little toddler points to the kitchen and says “Cook!” (score one for effectively turning gender roles on their heads… or for being a crappy cook. Whichever).

As soon as my husband starts making dinner she will claw at his legs, trying to scale him like a mountain in an effort to get a better view of the chopping or sauteing or whatever else might be going on. Girlfriend is obsessed.

She never shouts this little command at me, mind you. I think she must know better. But yesterday I decided to blow her mind. It was mid afternoon and she was seriously cranky. It was also a little chilly in the house, so I decided to do a little baking and let her get in on the action. Pumpkin bread is pretty much my favorite cold weather comfort treat ever–and even I can’t mess it up.

I definitely learned a lesson or two about cooking with toddlers in the process.

cooking with toddlers1. These mysterious creatures really like an abundance of bowls and dry ingredients.

As soon as I lined up a trio of bowls on the table, crank face transformed into a happy, open individual that was eager to participate in whatever experiment was about to be conducted.

Once I broke out the flour, eagerness morphed into straight up glee. Wait. Are we about to cook here?! She was like the dog in the Beggin’ Strips commercial. She went to town on those bowls, even seeming to conduct a mini orchestra.

2. Wet ingredients are the devil.

Then there were the wet ingredients. The evil, horrible, no good, very bad wet ingredients.

They’re not so bad on their own, in their own little bowl. In fact, they’re kind of fun to squish around. But don’t you even dream of getting rid of the beloved dry ingredients by tainting them with wet ingredients. That’s just straight up blasphemous and may require an exorcism to help the toddler who suddenly seems to be possessed by the devil.

There will be screaming. And crying. There will be flailing limbs and ingredients flying through the air (in our case it was allspice).

3. Beginning to clean up is the most efficient method of toddler exorcism.

When it was obvious that my monster baby was inconsolable, I started to clean up. Something about my movements and whatever I was mumbling under my breath must have completely magical because you know what? She recovered. Instantly.

Suddenly she really, really needed to stir it up a bit more, to make sure I did everything right.

(Don’t you just want to bite those little wrist rolls?!)

The pumpkin bread turned out fantastic, by the way. It was moist and totally comforting. And let me tell you, I really needed that.

Here’s the recipe I used. Total and complete meltdown not included.

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.