I feel the need to begin this post with a story that isn’t even remotely related to the recipe.
I know. I tend to do that a lot. I guess that’s partly because, as much as I love cooking and as much as I cook, my whole life is about a lot more than just cooking.
Okay, so five years ago, a couple of days before Christmas, Michael and I were sitting in the living room discussing what presents we had bought for everybody. We were pretty much done with our shopping and had bought gifts for the kids, our parents, my unmarried uncle, his unmarried aunt, the teachers, the friends. We were done. And feeling pretty proud of ourselves, especially when we remembered the Christmas Eve that we spent chasing the UPS truck all over town trying to get Christopher’s toddler 4-wheeler that we had ordered at the last possible deliverable moment.
During our conversation, Michael looked a little uncomfortable and then he asked (for the 44 billionth time that year) what I wanted from him. I hate this question every year because I really don’t need anything. I don’t need any cookware because I’m out of room for cookware. I don’t need a new food processor because that’s what his mom gets me every 3 or 4 years because I’ve killed another one. I don’t need clothes. I don’t need shoes. I don’t need anything.
So out of the blue that year, while racking my brain, an idea popped into my head. Granted, it was a stupid idea. It didn’t make any sense. I still don’t know why I said it.
But I blurted out, “I want a sewing machine!”
He looked a bit confused, but he also looked relieved because he had an idea of what to get me. And sure enough, on Christmas Morning, I opened my presents and there was a medium-big box containing a sewing machine. I was at a loss. I had no idea what I was going to do with it.
A couple of days later, our parents came to visit to see the kids’ presents and I asked our moms if they could help me get started. My mom was never a seamstress, but I grew up watching her hem our clothes. Once she even made a dress for one of my Barbies. I still have it. Elizabeth used it with her dolls until she decided not to play with dolls anymore. And Michael talked about his mom sewing here and there. Between the two of them, they helped me thread a bobbin and thread my machine. I was all set.
About a week later, Christopher had a new pair of khaki pants that needed hemming, so I took the plunge and gave it a try.
It was disastrous.
Something went wrong and all of the thread just balled up like a bird’s nest. I’ve been told that it was a bobbin problem. Too loose or too tight or too stupid. I don’t know. I ripped the thread out, Put the sewing machine on a shelf and used the iron-in hem stuff I’d been using.
I was done.
Over the years, Michael has badgered me – I mean, sweetly encouraged me – to try again. He used a lot of guilt phrases like “Honey, you’re so smart! I know you could figure out how to do it!” and “I’ll bet there are YouTube videos that show how to do that!”
I have quietly resisted and refused to even consider it.
Last Monday, when Elizabeth was getting dressed for school, we realized that the iron-in hem had come out in the dryer. I didn’t have time to iron in more and this was her only pair of clean pants. Michael walked in just as I finished using a stapler to secure the hem temporarily. “What are you doing?” he was incredulous. “You can’t send her to school with her pants stapled!” I shrugged and assured him it was only for one day.
By Friday, I had resorted to safety pins. Michael admonished me. He once again brought up the sewing machine. I defiantly said, “Did it ever occur to you that I don’t want to sew? Just because I’m female doesn’t mean that I have to sew. If you want to sew, you sew! I don’t want to sew!”
He gave me a look and asked, “Then why did you ask for a sewing machine?”
The next thing I knew, he had found a YouTube video of some soft-spoken lady showing how to thread my machine. She actually did make it look really easy. So I ran to the fabric store to get matching thread. (Actually I drove. I don’t run. Ever. If you ever see me running, you’d better run, too, because I promise you, something is chasing me.) On the way home, I called my mom and whined about the injustice of being forced to use a sewing machine that I asked for. She was sympathetic. Anyway, I came home and threaded the bobbin – which was easy. And then I started to thread the machine. And it was crazy! Loop here and here and here and here and then here and…
I’m ashamed to say that I said some very ugly things to the lady on the video.
But I got it done. And then I called my sister-in-law – who actually is a seamstress – to ask a couple of questions and she assured me that I could do it. She even told me that if, for some reason, I couldn’t, she would hem the pants for me. But she lives 100 miles away, so I knew I had to suck it up and just do it.
And I did. I hemmed both legs of the pair in question. So I decided to hem a new pair that we had just gotten. I did it! It’s not perfect and the hem isn’t exactly straight, but I did it! And I’ve been searching the house ever since for more khaki things to hem so I don’t have to change the thread or bobbin.
I guess my point is that I did something I was scared to do. I was uncomfortable and nervous and resistant. But I did something I didn’t think I could.
Kind of like letting your kids into the kitchen.
My kids have been cooking with me since they could hold a wooden spoon. They started out sitting in the floor, stirring bowls of cake batter. By the time he was seven, Christopher could make absolutely delicious cheesy scrambled eggs. Elizabeth makes an incredible chicken dip and is great at making omelettes. They are both becoming great intuitive cooks.
But I have lots of friends who don’t let their kids into the kitchen at all. They are nervous that their kids will get hurt or make a mess or make something gross that they will have to eat.
Here’s a great “recipe” for your kids to start with.
Yogurt and Cereal Parfaits
- 2 cartons of yogurt (any flavor except plain. Gross!)
- 1/2 cup of cereal (any kind)
Really. That’s it. My kids like these in parfait glasses or cute bowls. If you are uncomfortable with that, just get clear plastic Solo cups. Just let your kids layer the yogurt and cereal in. I even let mine top theirs with a tiny squirt of whipped cream.
Well Duh #1: Let you kids experiment with flavors. Here are a few of our favorites:
Pink Princess Parfait – strawberry yogurt and Trix
Leprechaun Parfait – key lime pie yogurt and Lucky Charms
Black and White Parfait – vanilla yogurt and Coco Puffs
Just Peachy Parfait – peach yogurt and Golden Grahams
Well Duh #2: These aren’t just for kids! Our whole family loves them. And we don’t just eat them for breakfast. We have them for snacks or dessert, too.
Well Duh #3: I have added a little almond extract to the peach yogurt before. Yummy!
Well Duh #4: These are really not good if you make them ahead. The cereal gets way too soggy. They only take a couple of minutes to make.
Well Duh #5: I usually just buy a variety pack of cereal. The ones with lots of little individual bags of cereal.
Don’t be afraid to let your kids try to make these! And don’t be afraid to make them for yourself! Such a yummy, quick breakfast or treat!
Now if Michael would stop saying such infuriating things as “Aren’t you proud of yourself for sewing?” and “I’m so proud of you, Baby!” and “I knew you could do it!” and “I told you it would be easy!”
Let it go, man. Let it go.