Mac n’ Geez

Clover, now 7, has decided it is about time she could cook a whole meal on her own. In the past, she has asked me about the mechanics of timing everything just right and has been processing in her head how she will perform the complex task of cooking macaroni from a box. Last Monday, it was time.

Things I take for granted, like which pot to use, the water temperature and generous amount of salt for the cooking water were completely new concepts to her. She’s a complete blank slate and it is wonderful!  Every little step I teach her feels like an accomplishment for us both.

I sat at the kitchen table, flipped through a flyer and let her have her space. Once the pot was full of water she couldn’t lift it out of the sink. Daddy swooped in to get it to the stove and praise her independance. Next step: find the right lid. She tried 3, like a toddler, putting each on the pot to see if it fit. I measured out the ‘milk’ (we had cream so I added some water and called it milk), and took out a pat of butter. It took her a long time to find the cheese and even longer to open the box.

I’ve decided teaching mise en place early is important as I myself am just now realizing the grand benefit of prep. It’s completely necessary in a small kitchen.  Also, clean-as you-go has never been one of my strong suits. Again, completely necessary in a small kitchen.  Clover, the ever organized one, will certainly have no problem with those lessons.

“How do you know when the water is boiling?” she asked. I can’t remember not knowing this. Facinating.

We tasted for doneness, and I did the straining while her eyes wandered over to the TV in the other room, attention wavering. She added the milk,  butter and cheese. This is when the pouting from Belles (5) began.

“Clover, can I add the cheese?”. Clover, unsure, looked to me to see if she would be a bad sister if she kept this, her favorite part of the process, to herself.

“Belles, let your sister make dinner tonight. You can cut up the hotdogs since you are the best knife-user in this family.”  Her focus narrowed. Her concentration face beamed through the kitchen.

Proud of her 12 minutes of stirring the ingredients to mix in the cheese, Clover summoned father for a look at the final product. Back in the kitchen, I secretly stirred the in the lumps and not-quite-covered-in-yellow-cheese noodles together. I couldn’t help myself! I was busted by JMac but my hands were off the spoon before Clover could see my general interference.

The serving utensil was chosen and scoops of creamy fake cheese tubes heaped into deep bowls. To a small, the bounty of an entire box of mac n’ cheese shared between two bowls must seem enormous. Clover’s mouth was watering. Her back straight and proud she brought each bowl to the table for the sister-dinner. Hotdogs were added and I puttered while they had their first bites. I missed their faces but couldn’t ignore the whispered squeels of “It’s beeter than Daddy’s! Don’t tell him!”.

Geez, like I couldn’t share THAT reveleation.

What was YOUR first cooking experience for your family or others?


2 thoughts on “Mac n’ Geez

  1. The year after my divorce my family came for thnkasgiving dinner. My ex- offered to cook it with me. It was a small disaster but came off in the end. I realized that I could have done what she did without the associated grief.

    After that I expanded my repetoir beyond sauce-from-a-jar spaghetti and frozen foods.

    On the flip side, my kids started cooking several years ago purely out of a need for me to have a night off once in a while. I think their first meal was tacos with rice and beans. Now teenagers, they often ask to “fend for themselves” or will chip in on dinner.

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