Who, me? Make a giant mess of my diaper while Mama is cooking dinner? Naw. (Wink;)
We finally feel at home in our kitchen. So much happens in this space. Food preparation (both real and wooden), baking, tasting, singing, carrying, laughing, frying, bouncing, dancing, spinning, stirring, pouring, washing, wiping, sweeping, and eating. A whole lot of "ings."
It's such a joy and a challenge to be in the kitchen with young children. I mean - there are moments when it's just so perfect that you can almost hear a chorus of angels singing in the backround - a two year-old pouring and stirring or happily washing dishes while the baby coos and laughs in the carrier. Then there are moments - you know exactly what I'm talking about - when the background music is so hard rock that it makes your head spin and explode. A two year-old whining, a hungry baby, a pot to stir and veggies to chop and something to get out of the oven all at the same time.
It makes me think about the leisurely days that Patrick and I spent in the kitchen, pre-babies, making excitingly complicated dishes. This day will come again, but probably not until I have gray hair!
I don't mean to bemoan cooking with little ones. It's just a dance that you have to learn as a parent. Every day I feel myself discovering more "best practices" and making note of the things that don't work. One thing that's had to change around here is our la-dee-da attitude towards meal planning. Since we live and work at home, I've found that we have to have all three meals planned for smooth sailing. I took the time a few weeks ago to come up with a weekly breakfast and lunch menu, and it has made a big difference in the flow of our days. This weekly plan doesn't change; we always have the same meals on Mondays, for example. Simple.
I do plan our dinners weekly on Saturdays to keep our evening meals seasonal and to keep things a bit exciting for the cooks. I have, however, given up on trying to cook fancy, new recipes very often. We typically invite friends over on Saturdays, a day when both Patrick and I aren't working, so we can do more extensive cooking.
I was very inspired by the article on batch cooking in this season's Rhythm of the Home, and I'm hoping I can organize something of the sort with my local friends. This idea (via Pinterest) of doing all of the prep work and freezing individual meals for crock pot dishes is also quite appealing. In addition to making kitchen work more simple, it would also be a great way to preserve the harvest. We always have an abundance of a certain veggie in our weekly CSA share, so I could just look for a crock pot recipe using that veggie and make a few batches to freeze.
Off to make supper!