“There is something very positive in being involved in the creativity which is so basic to life itself. Home-made bread, home-made cakes and pies, home-made vegetable soup from home-grown vegetables…for growing children at play, there is nothing so interesting as really ‘doing things.’” ~The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
The kitchen is the heart of the home.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed being in the kitchen. It is the place where I feel the most “grounded.” It has always been a sort of anchor point, home base, refuge, and creative space for me.
I have lots of memories of standing on a step stool in my grandmother’s kitchen helping her cut out biscuits, chop nuts, and mix up cookie dough. My mom was also a great cook, and the little wooden stepstool was a constant fixture in our kitchen, so that we children could climb up to the counter to see and help Mom with the next culinary creation.
Some of my earliest and happiest memories as a child are of the celebrations in our family, which included many food traditions. I remember the excitement we felt in our home during the preparation of special meals and treats that marked the seasons, holidays and milestones of our lives.
It came naturally for me to include my own children in the kitchen. Often, I included them in ordinary everyday kitchen chores. But always, when a special occasion came around, special foods were the centerpiece of our celebration. Working side by side preparing these special foods were truly the “ties the bind.”
Let them make messes.
It is natural for us to want to put things in order, and right for us to strive for an orderly home. But life is messy. We need to let our children truly live by allowing them to get their hands dirty, crack some eggs and spill flour. There is wonder and discovery awaiting them as they taste individual ingredients, mix them together and delight in the science and art of cooking. I’ve noticed a trend toward “sensory toys” for children. Colorful objects of various textures that squish and stretch and change shape. While there is nothing wrong with such toys, how much better to bring the kids into the kitchen for the ultimate delight to the senses. God created food in a variety of colors, textures, shapes, sizes, smells and flavors. With a little guidance children can learn to create delicious recipes that they are proud of, and excited to eat and share with others.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Recently, I had my grandsons over for a sleepover while my daughter and her husband enjoyed an evening out, in celebration of her birthday. I asked the boys if they would like to make a special birthday cake for their mama’s birthday the following day. They were thrilled with the idea!
We started early the next day mixing and baking the cake. By starting early there was plenty of time to mix up the cake batter, bake the cake, let it cool, and decorate, with lots of breaks as we needed them. We also had time to clean up our mess before their parents returned around dinner time. The boys happily tasted and mixed, and tasted and frosted, and tasted and sprinkled. When the cake was finished, they were so proud of their accomplishment.
One generation shall praise thy works to another. Psalm 145:4
Bringing our children and grandchildren into the kitchen is a wonderful way to deepen our relationship with them. There is a deep bonding that occurs when we share in the preparation and partaking of food. The Bible is full of references to meal-sharing as a means of communing together…with God and with each other. In fact, one of the ways that God commanded the Israelites to instruct their children was in the partaking of special feasts. Even the Lord Jesus, set up the Communion Meal as an eternal ordinance for remembering Him.
As busy mothers and grandmothers, it’s tempting to keep the kids busy with toys, games, or videos so that we can get our work done quickly and efficiently. We need to slow down and remember the profound impact we can have on the lives of our children and grandchildren when we bring them alongside us to work in the kitchen.
Kid Friendly Dairy-free Chocolate Cake (Vegan)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 4 tsp vanilla
Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter or vegan butter (softened)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 egg white (optional, but it adds to the fluffiness)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350°Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (We used one large and one small heart-shaped pans)Add to a large mixing bowl:3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 ¼ cup sugar, ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder , 2 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp salt
- Combine dry ingredients with a whisk or wooden spoon and then add:2 cups cold water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 4 tsp vanilla
- Stir (or mix with an electric mixer) until smooth. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slice a slim knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake onto the cooling rack. Let cool right side up on the rack Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar or frost with:
Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Cream butter and egg white until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well. Add salt and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Add a few drops of cold water or milk if frosting is too thick. Makes enough to frost two layers or one oblong cake.
- Decorate with chocolate shavings (made by shaving a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler) or mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle with fresh red raspberries!