Lola cooked dinner last night. Mostly. She wanted to help make a gluten-free dinner so I told her to pull up a barstool and roll up her sleeves. She started by measuring and mixing the marinade for the chicken.
"Mmm. This smells good!" She hopped off the barstool so she could be at the perfect height to poke her nose over the edge of the bowl as she stirred ginger, tamari and mirin together.
"Actually, now it's getting too strong." The little nose wrinkled up and she leaped back up on to the stool.
As I sliced the chicken thin, she used the butcher knife (!) to trim the ends from snow peas and cut baby carrots. She arranged the bits in a bowl so that the peas were hidden because she prefers carrots.
"Now what can I do, huh? I want to do something else, but nothing to do with that sauce cuz it's too strong now. I thought it smelled good at first but now it prickles my nostrils."
I pulled out a shallot.
"Can I peel that thing? It looks like a garlic but it's too big. I wanna peel it. Do the skins go in the compost?"
Halfway through slicing it, the knife clatters to the counter. "AAAh, my eyes hurt. You gave me something that makes me cry. This isn't a shallot, it's an onion. You tricked me!"
She cut the top off of the package of rice noodles and stuck the palm of her hand across the neatly arranged tops.
"These are poky! They look even but they're not. They're spikes."
While I sauteed the chicken and vegetables she mixed up the sauce: tamari and brown sugar. She chose the smallest measuring spoon she could find to make little 'sugar castles' and plop them into the tamari.
"How come brown sugar dissolves? I love this. Cooking with you is fun. Are we making a mess?"
I boiled the water for the noodles and she devised a new way to crush the cashews. She was soooo over using a knife at this point. It was more fun to make small piles of nuts on the cutting board and karate chop them with her fist. The dog sat eagerly under her barstool catching the flying bits as Lola giggled.
Dinner was a success. Lola garnished the sesame chicken with a sprinkle of crushed cashews and toasted sesame seeds and ate three helpings. Eve raved about the flavors and kept asking, "Are you SURE this is gluten-free?" Bubba was impressed. I sat back and looked at my family, proud of us for having this picture-perfect moment of family togetherness and harmony.
"What did you learn in school today? Anything good?" Bubba asked.
"Nah," Lola rolled her eyes, "but I burped 22 times while I was making your dinner, Daddy."