Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TOTTV - Baking Day

It's Tuesday and Time to Turn off the T.V. (TOTTV) and spend some quality time with our loved ones! (To see why we're doing this, go here.)

Todays Topic: Baking Together

Chocolate Chip Cookies Royalty Free Stock Photo
Regardless of your child(ren)'s age(s), baking is a super fun way to spend a little time together! Baking together fits into any schedule/budget/family dynamic/skill level; you can devote anywhere from 5 minutes to an entire day baking together! Whether you're a professional baker or have never set foot in a kitchen, you can do this; you can make it as simple or as complex as you wish (ie- pillsbury pre-made cookie dough ready to pop into the oven vs. homemade creme brulee or anything in between). You can get creative with items you already have in your pantry (and spend no money!) or purchase special ingredients....baking together really can work for anyone!

To make it work for you, here are a few helpful pointers:

~Safety first - direct supervision is a MUST when baking with children!

~The kitchen is always an excellent place to teach children proper hygeine!

~Start simple - if you or your child haven't spent much time baking before, try a simpler (ie - fewer than 5 steps) recipe on your first go around (e.g. If you are a professional baker but this is your child's first time baking, take things down a notch the first time to gauge how your child does - you can always try something more complicated next time!)

~Remember that baking is not for sweets alone; there are plenty of healthy recipes you can bake (think breads, muffins, biscuits, rolls, etc)

~Allow more time than the recipe calls for, when cooking with children. To make this enjoyable, plenty of patience is required, particularly if your children are young or inexperienced! Allow your children to take their time with the egg-cracking, mixing, shaping, etc. Remember, this is about TIME TOGETHER, not about checking "baking" off our to-do list or a race against the clock. If you have more time left over at the end, you can chat together while waiting for your masterpiece to bake!

~If you're pressed for time, even something as simple as buying cookies from a bakery and then decorating them together is a fun activity for kids!

~Anticipate a mess. Even if mess-making weren't fun for kids, baking is no clean job. Egg-cracking, flour mixing and liquid pouring aren't easy jobs for anyone, let alone little ones who are barely learning how to use their hands! Wearing aprons is always fun, but if you're worried, wear 'play clothes', put a towel down, and take whatever precautions you wish to create an environment where a little mess won't hurt, and then relax about the mess - you don't want to be nagging about cleanliness throughout your entire togetherness time! Remember; don't cry over spilled milk and a little mess never hurt anyone!

~Relax - don't worry as much about the finished product as about having fun and spending quality time together! This isn't a contest or a bake-off and if it doesn't turn out exactly like you planned, at least you had fun together!

~HAVE FUN! Remember, this is a journey, not a destination!

Ideas to 'mix things up' a bit:

~Have a family baking contest (e.g. the boys against the girls, the kids against the parents, etc)
~Try a new recipe
~Bake something related to a season or holiday (ie - shamrock cookies for St. Patrick's Day, kitty litter cake for April Fools Day, etc)
~Share your baked goods with a neighbor, friend, or someone who could use a pick-me-up
~Find something in your cupboard or refrigerator that needs to be used and bake something using it (ie - bananas - banana muffins, apples - apple cake, canned pumpkin - make a pumpkin roll, cream cheese - make cheese cake, etc)
~Bake in the dark, by candlelight

Fun Kid-Friendly Recipes:

Play Dough Cookies
Breads, etc:
Pretzels (fun to make shapes, alphabet, etc. out of)


*Remember: if you are short on time or inexperienced, there are TONS of baking mixes available - just check the baking section at your local grocery store for brownie mix, cake mix, cornbread mix, cookie mix, pumpkin bread mix, etc - or the refrigerated section for ready-made cookie and brownie dough. They are slightly more expensive but cost-effective if you don't already have all the ingredients you'll need (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa, etc.).



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