The Next Food Network Star is...

Suddenly overnight there is a mommy’s little helper living in my house. I have detailed here often how Caroline is at times my shadow, particularly in the morning when I ask her over and over to “help Mommy dry her hair.” We noticed recently that when we are making dinner she really wants to watch. Sometimes she stands supervised on her chair next to the counter and watches dinner unfold. Other times we simply hold her in our arms while the other chops, mixes, flips, or sautés. The highchair only goes so far because she wants to be intimately involved in the watching and helping. These methods work when we are a family of three, but not so much on Mommy & Caroline solo days.

Noting how often she copies things that I do these days I set off on Cooking 101. About 20 seconds in, I wished that I had set up the video camera to capture her culinary efforts because it is impossible that she could have been any cuter. I sliced up zucchini and summer squash and then set out a cookie sheet, some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and two spoons on the new Caroline sized table. I took a few slices of veggies and put them on the sheet and she went to town placing them one after another all clustered up in the tiny corner nearest her. I oiled them lightly and then poured some salt into the palm of my hand. I showed her how to sprinkle the salt between her fingers. I ground the pepper and let her shake the grinder at the end. She raced off towards the cutlery drawer, but when I told her that I already had a spoon and held it up for her to see, she came dashing back and helped me mix it all up. Bingo Bango, Caroline the chef…

I am planning on indulging and encouraging her culinary impulses, though now that she has helped she ALWAYS wants to help and it gets pretty messy. She really seems to enjoy it, even if the results of her efforts are not wholeheartedly acceptable for dinner. The most amazing thing about what must read like boring dinner prep to the rest of the world is that I was doing this with my daughter, not for her, but together. She watched me, she imitated me, she made her own dinner. Truly a first.


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