Cooking With Charli

There’s nothing much more fun, nor, on occasion, messier, than cooking with a grandchild. The following recipe, however, is not one to require a mop-up afterwards and is very rewarding. Charli, who is three and a half, helped me make these muffins this week. It helped that her brother Kaison (2) was taking a nap at the time!

Charli’s mother, Amanda, my granddaughter, started cooking with me at age six months. She was often with me for long spells because her mother wasn’t well–and because I loved having her with me! I would set her on the kitchen counter while I mixed and rolled and stirred. By the time she was five years old, she was trying to teach me! Her mom and her uncle Will always helped me make cookies at Christmas. One year we even made a gingerbread church. It was lovely, so lovely we wanted to save it until the next year. So we placed it carefully in a garbage bag along with moth balls, tied it securely, and set it up in the attic. But when we attemped to retrieve it, the garbage bag was empty, standing like a black castle with only one hole at ground level. There were no crumbs or any evidence at all!

But back to my great-granddaughter Charli–she was wearing a cute little skirted top over tight pants the day we cooked. Her light brown hair was in a ponytail. By the time I finished telling her that she and I were making muffins, she had pulled the step stool to the counter. “What can I do?” she asked.

I set her to work rolling refrigerated biscuits one at a time to 5″ diameter. I have an ancient plastic pastry sheet that has shapes and sizes to go by. That made it really fun for her! As she finished each 5″ circle, I would snug it down into a greased muffin tin.

By the time Charli finished rolling the dough, I had scrambled a pound of hamburger and added to it in a small bowl ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and chili powder, all of which Charli gleefully stirred. Stirring is one of her favorite things to do!

I spooned the hamburger mixture into the biscuits-turned-muffins. Charli wanted to do that but I have my limits. She sprinkled grated cheese on top of each completed muffin before I slid the tins into the oven. Kaison was awake by the time the muffins were done and got in on the eating. He liked the inside part, picking it out, one messy bite at a time. Charli ate the outside of hers, leaving the filling on her plate!

We declared the whole process a great success, especially when Grandaddy came in for lunch and ate two whole muffins with great gusto!

Cooking with children is so well worth the time and mess! They learn how to measure, how to judge amounts by eying, how to cooperate and to tell the difference between stirring, shaking, and sprinkling. They love experiencing the smells, textures, and, of course, tastes. Plus, this cooking scene is a marvelous setting for spontaneous conversations. The laughter and cameraderie are priceless. And the children learn responsibility. Because, you know, clean up is part of any cooking job!

Here’s our recipe:

BARBECUE MUFFINS

1 tube (10 oz.) refrigerator biscuits

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (put less if your child doesn’t like hot)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Flatten 10 biscuits into 5 inch circles. Press each into bottom and sides of greased muffin cups. Set aside. In a skillet, brown ground beef and drain. In small bowl mix ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and chili powder. Stir until smooth. Add to meat mixture and mix well. Divide meat mixture into 10 biscuit cups. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Cool five minutes before removing from cups.

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