Friday, July 13, 2007

Training little ones and cookin' with kids!

I do a lot of cooking with my boys (and all other forms of housework!). When my sons leave my home, I want them to know how to cook for themselves...and clean...and do laundry etc. They will need to care for themselves and also be able to help their wives through illness and pregnancy once they get married. So, knowing this won't "just happen". I have a plan...well...several of them actually :)

For instance, I start teaching my sons to help with laundry when they are toddlers. They start by emptying the dryer into a basket and bringing it to me...then they help me fold. Granted their little hands don't fold very neatly but does that really matter? The laundry lessons increase over the years until the time they turn 13...then they get their own laundry basket and are required to do their own laundry from that point on. Each gets assigned a day..and they are expected to get it done on that day.

Housework isn't much different - start when they are toddlers with a dust cloth and let them help. It won't be perfect but by the time they are teenagers your work load will be lightened and they will be well trained. Teach them to clean their own rooms and bathrooms and let them help with the rest of the house. I know, I won't be done "perfectly" and it initially takes longer to train them but believe me it pays off years down the road. Instead of spending all day cleaning house, work together and get it done in half the time!

I do the same thing with baking. I start when they are toddlers "helping" Mom in the kitchen. They get their own apron (don't know why but this seems to be important!). We start with fun things like cookies and then progress to bigger things. As they get older, around 8, they get their own recipe file. Each time we cook something together, they write the recipe down and it goes into the file. By the time they are grown and ready to leave home, they have a complete file of my recipes and know how to cook them. Jeremy (17 yr. old) makes the best Turtle Cheesecake - from scratch! - that I have EVER tasted!

Makayla showed such interest and enjoyment when we made lasagna together last week, I decided to get brave and make bread with her. I decided to make Garlic Knots - an easy recipe and you get to play with the dough - something my boys always enjoyed. If you can make Play-do logs, you can make Garlic Knots :)

I started Makayla and Elijah out by having them measure the flour while I assembled the rest of the ingredients. They took turns, one scooped the first 4 cups of flour while the other watched the measurements...then they reversed jobs for the second 4 cups of flour.

It looked something like this:


Makayla was flour from fingertip to elbow! At one point, when Makayla was watching the measurements while Elijah scooped, I turned around to see Makayla neatly pressing the flour firmly down in the measuring cup....just like she learned to do with the lasagna! Yikes! Rocks for dinner! So, I explained that we needed to "re-fluff" the flour and that we didn't pat it down.

We got everything in the mixer and let it knead. It is a large mixing bowl and I explained to Makayla that in an hour the small lump of dough in the bottom would rise to the top of the bowl. She looked at me as if I had lost my mind. We left it sitting and an hour later peeked under the cloth - wish I had a picture of that face! She was fascinated with how much it "grew".

Next came the fun part - making the logs and tying them into knots. This is the fun part for kids! Makayla did a fine job! Remember Moms, their knots aren't going to be uniform and neat at first but just give it a few years!


Then we tie them.....


Put them on the pan to raise again and once baked brush them with melted butter, drop them into a large bowl and add freshly chopped garlic and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toss lightly.....yummy!

Hear they are just before hitting the bowl!


I can assure you that the misshapen ones tasted just as good as the pretty ones! And two little ones were mighty pleased with their creation!

For those is the recipe. It has been in the family for a long time - 20 years perhaps - and isn't one of my healthiest recipes but there has to be some room for family traditions :)
Garlic Knots

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup dry milk

4 cups flour

1 1/3 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tbsp. sugar

1 1/4 tbsp. softened butter

1 1/3 cups water

Let yeast proof in warm water. Place all ingredients into mixer and mix thoroughly. Knead in machine (or by hand) for 5 minutes. Let rise until double - about an hour. Form into thin ropes and tie into knots. Place on ungreased baking sheet and let rise again for 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted buter. You can then either sprinkle with garlic salt or place in large bowl and toss lightly with freshly chopped garlic and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

These are SO popular that I always double the recipe!

Variations - use 1/2 fresh ground wheat flour (I use Prairie Gold) and 1/2 unbleached organic flour.

You can also make bread sticks by skipping the tying part :)



  1. I applaud your efforts in teaching your children about household tasks - especially the boys. By the time my son was 16, he could do whatever he needed to around the house. The rolls turned out great! Thanks for sharing your recipe!!

  2. Cheri,
    I am so glad you shared your garlic knot recipe. I can't wait to try them. I know your pan bread is the all time favorite here in our home.
    grace and peace,

  3. We just went out for my birthday dinner at an Italian resturant and had these!!!! We were all wishing we knew the recipe so we could try it at home!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!! I have 3 boys, 5, 7 and 9. Your blog is very encouraging to me!
    Teresa in GA

  4. So, are you willing to share the Turtle Cheesecake recipe?? :)

  5. Hi Paula,
    I'm glad you liked them :)

    Hi Julie,
    Gee, I thought you had this recipe....your men will love it :)

    Let me know if you like them :)

  6. Kathy Jo,
    I'll ask him but I warn you right now there isn't one single healthy thing in it :)

  7. Not to be Makayla from Guatemala?? I have 2 from Guatemala which is why I asked. :)

  8. Tracy,
    Makayla was adopted from China. And I don't think you were nosey at all :)

  9. Glad you don't think I'm nosey. When you have adopted internationally it is hard to not just ask. :) I have really been enjoying your site. All kinds of helpful information.


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