The Fabulous Mini Baker Boys
It's Sunday morning and we're making rolled sugar cookies.
"Momma, I can help you?" says my two year old, in his irresistible broken toddler speech. His hands still sticky from breakfast, his glossy brown eyes as big as gum balls, that one perfect curl resting on his forehead. He reaches up toward the counter and knocks the measured cup of sugar onto the floor; it spreads everywhere, covering the tile like snow. Unfazed, he reaches for the eggs, his tiny fingers grabbing one, along with the wooden spoon. He runs off into the family room, egg and spoon in hand, proudly shouting, "I helping, I helping!" I hear a thump and the crack of an eggshell on the floor, then "Uh oh, momma..." I take a deep breath, grab the mop, and remind myself:
Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.
I believe this to be true. So much so, I have the saying framed on my kitchen wall. But this practice isn't easy for me, for I am a perfectionist to the core, especially in the kitchen. Those who know me well (like my husband) will express (while rolling his eyes) that in the kitchen, I'm a control freak. And he's right...the kitchen is the one (and only) place in my home where I have a fragment of order. It's my happy place. It's where I create and work. And, when I'm in that zone, I can be a little uptight and controlling. Ok, maybe a lot.
As a stay at home mom (to three ridiculously cute boys) and a wife to a very busy (and wonderful) husband, I often feel I'm wrangling in their chaos. Cleaning, organizing, folding, searching for that missing sock, washing, packing, re-folding, cooking, laundering, wiping butts (the kid's, not my husband's)... it's like a treadmill of mom chores and the motor never stops. As a woman who thrives on perfection, I struggle with the messy ends...especially when they wander into the kitchen.
My boys are constantly in the kitchen, creating tornados of madness, using spatulas for sword fights, chasing the cat into the dishwasher, destroying whatever I'm working on. I send them to the playroom, to their bedrooms, outside...but they always find their way back to the kitchen. Not because it's their happy place, but because I'm their happy place.
My boys don't need clean counters or organized cabinets. They're not bothered by sticky floors, dirty dishes, and broken egg shells. They don't care if their cookies are picture perfect. They just want to be with me. They want to share in what I'm doing. They want to explore, to create. I realized I could drive myself insane, trying to control every little mess, or I could relax and embrace having boys that want to learn and spend time with their mom. I choose dirty floors, sticky ovens, and happy kids.
It's phenomenal what you can learn from your children when you pay attention. They hold some serious wisdom in their tiny footed pajamas. They've taught me, time and time again, that happiness is simple; it's in being together. These moments with my boys are fleeting and so very precious. I will blink and they'll be grown, heading out the door. When they look back, they won't remember the perfect kitchen, they'll remember the baking, the learning, the laughter, and the quality time with their mom.
So I let go of my struggle for perfection. Not everyday, because I'm only human, but as often as I can. I let them get sticky, I let them paint with flour on the floor, I let them play with the cookie dough like it's play dough, I let them mound frosting and sprinkles as high as their little fingers can manage. I share with them my love for baking and they share with me their joy. It's a not a mess we're creating, but a memory. It's our happy place together.
And when I let go, and let them be creative on their own, they create some genuine masterpieces. Pretty picture perfect cookies, if you ask me.
Bake with your kids. It's a wonderful craft, teaching them motor skills, math, measuring, artistic expression, and patience. They'll be so proud of what they create! Time in the kitchen is quality time. Embrace the moment...cleaning up can wait.
Here's a delicious, simple recipe to start your kiddos baking- our favorite Rolled Sugar Cookies.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
* Makes about 6 dozen 2"-3" cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- Cookies cutters
- Candy and sprinkles
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt, on medium speed, till light and fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.
- Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl when needed.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Divide the dough in half and flatten into a disk. Wrap separately in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F and adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Take one disk of dough and place on a well floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/8" thick. Begin cutting out shapes with cookie cutter, trying to fit as many as possible. Using a large flat spatula, transfer the cookies to parchment lined cookie sheets, about 1/2" apart.
- Re-roll the scrapes of dough and cut more shapes. Try not to re-roll the dough more than twice, as it results in a slightly tougher cookie.
- When baking sheets are filled, bake for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Reverse the cookie sheets halfway through.
- Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
- Repeat steps with remaining disk of chilled dough.
Baker's Note: These cookies will keep in an airtight container for 3 weeks.
Classic Powdered Sugar Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 5-6 tablespoons whole milk
- Edible food coloring (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and milk together. Add milk to reach desired consistency. Use immediately to decorate cooled cookies or keep covered till ready to use.
- The glaze takes about an hour to harden and set.