I hate cooking. REALLY hate it. I actually would have really loved the movie, "Julie and Julia" if it weren't for all the darn food talk. If there were one job in my house I could farm out to someone else, hands down it would be the planning of meals and cooking. Give me the toilets, the scrubbing of crown molding and blinds, the laundry, anything...just please, please don't ask me to cook.
This is somewhat of a problem since I am, after all, a homemaker. Also kind of problematic is the fact that I have three daughters whom I am supposed to be training in the art of keeping a home. Sadly food is part of that task and food consumption is rather important in the circle of life. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the eating part (except meat...not a big fan and not for 'earthy' kind of reasons, I just don't care for it that much).
Oddly enough, somehow my hatred for cooking does not extend into the baking genre. I LOVE to bake.
Cookies, bread, cakes, pies....if it contains sugar or chocolate, I'm in. If you've seen the blogs I've written about my girls' homemade birthday cakes involving multiple tiers and marshmallow fondant and making huge batches of cream cheese frosting, you know I'm serious about sugar. If it were up to me, we'd eat cake every single night for dinner and totally skip the steak and potatoes.
Because I enjoy baking (and let's be honest, mostly because I want my girls to have some memory of their mother in the kitchen), I invited my kids to join me last week in baking homemade bread. They were pretty excited as we pulled out all the necessary ingredients and gear.
They were also pretty darn cute.
We happily began and even a neighbor child was over to share in the wonderful Mrs. Cleaver moment I was having.
Yeast, flour, sugar, salt...it was pretty great. I was feeling fairly confident in my mothering skills in that moment. So what that they had watched t.v. for an hour already that morning? I was spending QUALITY time making memories right now. I even put on fun music.
If you've ever made bread, you know that the kneading process is fairly important to the final outcome. You also know that it can take quite a while, forever, in fact, to kids. This particular recipe said to knead the bread "vigorously" for five minutes.
Everyone started out really enthusiastically. They were going at it, working the yeast through that dough like champs.
45 seconds later, they were totally over it, leaving me with a double batch of bread dough to knead all by myself. I felt a little like the Little Red Hen, and daydreamed for a moment about holding the warm, heavenly bread under their noses and then denying them a single bite. By the time I finished kneading all that dough, I felt as though I'd done an intense upper body conditioning workout. "No, no, don't mind me, children. I'll just keep slaving away here while you watch Tom and Jerry."
As we let the dough rise, I cleaned up round one of the mess. A small fight broke out over who was using which rolling pin and I'm pretty sure someone was not going to walk away without a concussion if I didn't intervene.
Finally, the really fun part. We get started rolling out the dough. A few minutes in, I take a look at my youngest child. Her cheeks are puffed out. Her mouth is covered in flour. The ball of dough she is supposed to be rolling out is half the size it used to be.
I remembered why I keep such a close eye on her when we play with playdough. She's pretty much an addict. Sometimes I think I need to arrange an intervention for her dough problem.
Each girl puts her loaf of bread on the baking stone and adds their special insignia so they'll be able to tell them apart. We put them in the oven and waited for the culmination of my Suzie Homemaker morning.
The smell of fresh bread began wafting through the house. I momentarily debated going to get the plastic pearls from my girls' dress-up box and donning a pair of heels. Motherhood is pretty easy sometimes, I thought.
And that's when it all went wrong.
A huge pile of flour got knocked onto the floor. My kitchen looked like a powdered sugar nightmare with white billows of haze settling onto everything and everyone. My 3-yr-old suddenly could not tolerate her baking outfit one second longer and laid on the floor in frustration that she couldn't get it off quickly enough. The dog got a hold of my favorite oven mit and destroyed it. And the pinnacle of a good thing gone bad: the baking stone turned out to not be quite large enough and the girls' bread had morphed together into a massive loaf bearing all kinds of identifying marks.
I am only supposed to eat sugar on Saturdays. I'm usually fairly disciplined about it.
Somewhere between the rolling pin squabble, the flour on the floor, the puppy mauling my oven mit, and kids upset because their loaves of bread didn't look quite right, I gave into my weakness.
I think I ate the equivalent of 5 or 6 pieces of bread all by myself.
Yes, I love to bake. And someday I won't have any little helpers left to make it more interesting and I will miss the chaos and frenzy that so often fills my home. But the next time I want to show my girls what a great homemaker looks like, I'll just turn on Leave it to Beaver and let June handle it.