Creative cooking with Mina

March 3, 2010

Mina in the kitchen

As everyone knows, Mina and I love to cook. Lately, that has sparked some interesting requests. A few weeks ago, Mina asked me to make Angelina Ballerina’s mother’s Cheddar Cheese Pie for dinner. Hmmm… .I googled Mrs. Mouseling’s Cheddar Cheese Pie. Hey, who knows? Maybe somewhere someone posted the recipe! No, it was not going to be that easy. I spent the weekend looking up recipes to find something that would work. Then I bought a big hunk of Cheddar at Costco. I was ready! Mina took one bite of the finished pie and informed me that she was not a mouse and could not eat the rest…sigh…Tolga and I were eating Cheddar Cheese Pie for many days after that.

Did I learn my lesson? No, no, I did not. The following week, Mina revisited her latest Skippyjon Jones book, Lost In Spice. While Skippyjon Jones is exploring Mars, his sisters are helping Mama June Bug Jones make Tuna Noodle Casserole in the kitchen. Coincidentally, I received a Bon Appetit magazine in the mail which contained—you guessed it—a recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks. I made the mistake of mentioning it to Mina and she was all over trying THAT recipe. OK, here we go again. Maybe, I am thinking, she will like THIS one. Ha! She took her one bite and spit it out. After eating a good portion of the casserole myself, I brought the leftovers down to The King’s English for them to enjoy the Skippyjon Jones Tuna Noodle Casserole. And I had enough of book-inspired dinners!

From now on, we will just pretend. I reorganized my cookbook shelf and placed all her children’s cookbooks on the bottom shelf for easy access. Sure enough, within minutes, she is whipping up “ice cream” from her new cookbook, The Silver Spoon for Children. It is a great book that I just HAD to buy at the last big sale at King’s English. The pictures are wonderful and easy for her to understand.

And we have actually made quite a few recipes from the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls. Mom had gotten it for Mina last Christmas. I have Moms original up in my Cookbook section for safe keeping. The Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes were quite popular at our Valentine’s Day Workshop. Mom made me the Whiz Cinnamon Rolls for every holiday, with icing of course! Myself, I am in love with Eggs in a frame recipe. I took a cookie cutter and cut out a shape from a slice of bread, buttered one side, placed it in a pan, and then cracked an egg into it. YUM!

We have quite a few more cookbooks that I have yet to crack open, but couldn’t resist buying: Pretend Soup and Salad People. Again, the pictures inside sold me right away. They are so fun and inviting! Personally, I think the book titles would make a great name for a children’s cafe! Hmmmm…..perhaps a future business for Mina?

What’s In Mina’s Book Bag? Gardening!

August 27, 2009

Since moving to our house last November, I have really tried to get Mina involved with her new natural surroundings. We have planned projects and activities to get her interested and loving the outside. I think that it is important to be able to give children the love of nature. She latched onto the garden bug with full force! It is wonderful!

First, we started with collecting sticks and leaves from around the yard and make a glue project out of it. Then, we progressed to making seed markers for our seedlings and planting the sprouts in the garden. I picked up a book in March called Grow it, Cook It and it gives wonderful ideas on how to a garden with a child from start to finish. The book is a bit old for her, but I liked how it explained the process of seed to sprout, following up with a recipe. I wish I had seen my most recent purchase: Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots before I planted everything this season. The author gives some really fun ideas on how to shape a children’s garden. I think my favorite was the Pizza Garden. You make a circular garden and each “wedge” is an ingredient to use later on your pizza. Once you can harvest your veggies and herbs, there is a a section on throwing a pizza party. How fun would that be!!

The other chapter that caught my eye was the Sunflower House. It gives dimensions, necessary seeds and instructions on how to “build” a house out of giant sunflowers and climbing vines. We have a section of our yard that is behind a small picket fence that would be the perfect spot for a sunflower house! I got Mina involved with her section of the yard by having her paint her little picket fence. She picked raspberry pink for the color and it looks fantastic. We converted the the old dog pen into her sandbox play area and she wanted to paint the stones pink as well. Why not! I drew the line at painting the grass pink! We decided, Mina and I, to trellis the grape arbor over her stones to her sandbox and planted blue flowered steppables in the rest of the dog pen. It is interesting the ideas, good ideas, you can get from a 2+ yr old if you ask and really listen.

She loves all the aspects of gardening now and planted the seeds in the herb box and weeds the driveway. She is so cognizant of weeds that she wants to weed the hiking trails when we go to the mountains. “Mama, someone needs to come and weed here, it is kind of messy with the weeds everywhere!”

This interest in gardening has led to many seed/garden orientated books. She couldn’t care less this winter about Eric Carle’s Tiny Seed, but now she just can’t get enough of it. Sometimes, we have to read it 5 times in a row.

One of the seed books that I have fallen in love with is A Seed Is Sleepy. The illustrations are so beautiful, you want to have them all over your wall. The author writes about each seed and its progression into a flower and the illustrator executes the pictures with the most minute detail.

The Curious Garden is a lovely book about how one person can make a difference. It starts with a gray city with no vegetation whatsoever. A little boy goes for a walk and comes upon a patch of wildflowers by the train tracks. He cultivates them and over time it spreads out over the city, transforming a lifeless bleak existence into a beautiful one. It transforms the people as well. It teaches that no matter who you are or how big/small you are, you can make a difference in people’s lives. That is an important lesson to learn, especially when you are young. It will provide a great foundation for the future.

The last book on our list that is a must if you are doing a garden with a kid is Wiggle and Waggle. It is a small book, great bang for the buck @ $5.95, with four adventures of two worms in a garden. They dig tunnels, they sing songs, they go on a picnic. It is a lot of fun. It is almost like an early introduction to chapter books. It blends perfectly with garden themed activities for young ones. They can look at the pictures of bean sprouts or corn sprouts and say “Hey! I planted those! Maybe Wiggle and Waggle are in MY yard too!” Mina took the book outside when I was prepping the veggie area and tried to identify the worms in the garden as Wiggle or Waggle. If they were more yellow, they were Wiggle. More pink meant that they were Waggle.

Gardening with children is such a wonderful thing to be able to do. We have to go out every morning when we wake up (@ 6 am–YAWN!) and say good morning to her “babies” . She was so excited when she noticed that the corn had a cob on it or as she put it: Look Mama, the corn is cobbing!

It will be fun to watch her actually pull off an ear of corn or pull up a carrot and know that SHE grew it. I wonder what kind of recipe she will come up with … hopefully not cucumbers and cinnamon again. That really wasn’t my favorite.