Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Short-Order Cook

The Announcement
This morning, as I was working in my home office, my seven-year-old daughter Rachel danced into the room.

“Hey Mommy, guess what? I’m cooking!” she announced.

“Really?” I responded. “That sounds like fun.”

Rachel danced back out of the room to return to her cooking project, and I kept working.

Now, I need to explain something so you don’t all think I am a terrible mother who allows her young child to cook unsupervised on a hot stove. We live in a country where it is not only common, but even expected, that families who are lower middle class and above have household help.

So when Rachel said she was cooking, I knew Ibu Nengah, the woman who helps us in our home, was in the kitchen with her.  

Shortly after Rachel’s announcement, some rather delicious smells began to waft into my office. “Wow! That’s really great,” I thought. “My daughter is learning to cook one of Ibu Nengah’s delicious dishes.”


The Concoction
Finally, Rachel called me. “Mommy! Mommy! Come here! See what I made!”

I followed her to the kitchen, only to find that chaos reigned supreme. Rachel is NOT a neat cook.

As it turns out, she had not been learning a recipe from Ibu Nengah. She had experimented on her own. Ibu Nengah was there to be sure she was safe, and would have intervened if something had not been safe. But Rachel had basically come up with a creation of her own. Unfortunately, she had chosen not to listen when Ibu Nengah tried to limit her use of ingredients. 

So, what was Rachel’s creation? Well … let me tell you.

My darling daughter had tried frying an egg with a bunch of sugar and sweet soy sauce mixed in. Not a success. Left behind was one unedible egg and very sticky frying pan.

Then she had proceeded to take nearly every bottle of spice off my shelf and mixed them together randomly with sweet soy sauce, lots of coriander seeds, little red onions, fresh garlic cloves, and fresh ginger root, sautéing them all in a small skillet. That was the delicious odor I had caught earlier.

It tasted pretty good, too. So good, in fact, that Rachel’s concoction is now stored in my refrigerator to be used a couple spoonfuls at a time over the next few days as an ingredient.

Of course, in the process of her experiment, she used up large quantities of my spice collection. I would have been more upset about that than I was if it weren’t for the fact that most of my spice collection has been sitting around for well over 5 years, and is probably a bit on the old side anyway.

What Would You Do?
This incident challenges me as a mother on several different levels. How am I supposed to respond to this?
  • Laugh.
  • Say, “All’s well that ends well.”
  • Have her help clean up the mess.
  • Commend her creativity.
  • Discipline her for not obeying Ibu Nengah.
  • Involve her in real cooking in the future, starting with using her own concoction.
  • Teach her about not being wasteful.
  • Write a blog post.
  • Some of the above.
  • All of the above.
  • Something else I haven’t thought of.
What would you do in a similar situation? I’ve taken a couple of the actions on the list, but I’m curious about how other moms out there would handle this.


One Thing I Do Know…
If someday, Rachel comes dancing into my office and announces, “Mommy! Mommy! I’m painting a big, big, really beautiful picture!” I will most certainly go see just what she is using for paint, and what exactly she is painting on. If I don’t, who knows? I might find my kitchen walls painted with ketchup, mustard, and sweet soy sauce. Arrrrgh!

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