Andrew and I just finished making egg noodles for tonight's dinner. We're having Swedish meatballs, which must be served with egg noodles, and since I made homemade egg noodles for the first time a month or so ago I can't seem to bring myself to go back to store-bought. I am so incredibly far from a food snob, you guys know that, but homemade egg noodles are so superior to store-bought it's ridiculous.
Anyway. This post is not, in fact, about the egg noodles themselves, but about the process of making them (and many other things) with my oldest son.
Back when I first learned I was having another boy, one of my greatest hopes was that at least one of them would be as interested in food as I am. In the absence of a daughter to pass my recipes down to, I fervently wished that one of my boys would be interested in food and get some use out of all of the recipes that generations of women in my family have been cooking. As time has passed, it's apparent that my wish has come true.
Andrew loves cooking with me so much that, the minute he wakes up in the morning, he's asking me what we're going to be making for dinner that night. The second we walk in the door in the evenings, he's pushing a dining room chair into the kitchen, saying, "C'mon, Mommy, let's make dinner now!" He's so enthusiastic about it, and it's definitely something I love, too, and try to foster. That's not to say it doesn't frustrate me sometimes, because there are evenings that it definitely does -- evenings when I just want to be alone to get the cooking done (last week's massive kitchen fail is a great example of this). Cooking with him is often a lesson in patience for me, but more often, it's a purely joyful experience for both of us.
He's so eager to please and to learn what I'm doing, and there are lots of great teaching opportunities. Last night, as a matter of fact, I found myself comparing making soup to building something out of blocks. "You know how you make towers out of your blocks? Well, Mommy's blocks are individual ingredients, and I use them to make our soup." He's learning about ingredients and measurements and kitchen safety. He asks questions about everything I'm doing ("Why you doin' dat, Mommy?"), to the point that I feel like I could host my own show on the Food Network with no problem, so used am I to narrating every single thing I do. He knows what flour does and what salt and pepper are for, and he knows that 350 degrees is the standard temperature for most recipes. He knows to stand back when I'm chopping an onion, because it will "make his eyes cry." He's becoming quite the little smarty-pants when it comes to food.
Helping me make dinner every night has also had another effect: He's much more inclined to actually eat his dinner now, since he had a part in making it. Last night's tomato soup is a great example: He tasted it when I did to make sure the seasoning was perfect, and after dipping his grilled cheese into his bowl at dinner, he declared, "That is some delicious tomato soup, and I helped Mommy make it!"
After our joint cooking ventures, the kitchen is usually a complete disaster. This afternoon, after our egg-noodle-making, everything was covered in a thin coating of flour (including Andrew and myself). And of course, Andrew's not so keen on the cleaning up part (he's a boy interested in cooking, but he is still a boy), so that's left all to me. But I honestly don't (usually) mind. I wipe down the counters and I sweep the floor and I wash the dishes, and I smile as I think about the memories my son and I just made.