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Little Sous Chefs

LAST weekend when my husband told our children that we were going to be making pizza, it sounded something like this, " YESSSS! I wanna help. Where's my apron? Can I pull up a chair to stand on? Can I snack on the cheese? I wanna put on the green olives!" 
The house was buzzing with excitement and we had not even begun to prep. 
My husband, Derek, is our pizza maker, we are his sous chefs. 
Derek has adapted a pizza dough recipe from Julia Child after I personally consulted Bobby Flay. It’s in the water and the cheese. You can read about the pizza conversation I had with Bobby here
Cooley Family Pizza Dough for two 16 inch disks
The yeast mixture:
1 package dry-active yeast
1 C tepid water
1/8 t sugar
Additions to the yeast mixture
¼ C cold milk
¼ C olive  oil
The dry ingredients:
3 C flour
1 ½ t salt

Whisk the yeast ingredients in a measure and let bubble up five minutes. Measure dry ingredients into a kitchen aid stand mixer with the dough hook and mix until the dough forms a ball. Let it rest five minutes and knead by hand. Then let the dough rise in a covered bowl until doubled in bulk (about 1 ½ hours). If you are not ready to bake, punch the dough down and set the covered bowl in a cooler place where it will keep safely for an hour or more.
If you think cooking with two children is fun, imagine one-hundred-twenty children. I had the pleasure of choreographing a science lab “dance” to go along with our lesson of how matter changes. We made muffins and created an irreversible change. 

I honestly think my own two children were louder than the one-hundred-twenty second graders because I said, "I'm only picking the most quiet children to help cook." They all really wanted to crack the eggs! Children love to break, squeeze and cut things…they’re not afraid to get messy. 

I notice with both my children and all the second graders that when they are responsible for preparing the meal, there five senses are more aware and they better appreciate the food because they helped make it. All the more reason children should be involved in the kitchen.  

Mrs. Cooley's Banana Muffins

3 C flour
1 t baking soda (mixed with 4 T sour cream)
1 t salt
½ t baking powder
½ t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
2 C sugar
1C vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
4 ripe bananas, mashed

Line muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients: start with sour cream mixed with baking soda, add three eggs and sugar, oil, and vanilla then fold in mashed bananas. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide batter in muffin cups. Bake on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick tester comes out clean (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a rack to cool.

Cooking with children is a lot like choreographing a dance. The choreographer has to be quick and interesting so they don’t lose a child’s attention.
My friend Craig Alderson, from Cooking with Class, is a chef and a dad, has the perfect and hilarious example of why you need to be quick in the kitchen with children. 
"There was this one time when I had my daughter Hannah, who was two at the time, on the kitchen counter one morning helping daddy cook. We were making eggs in the skillet, and we had a can of powdered carpet cleaner nearby. It was vanilla scented. She picked it up and shook all over the eggs thinking she was seasoning them! Smelled awful! We joke about till this day."
Be brave, be patient and have fun cooking with your children.Whether it is a cooking success or mishap, the experience makes for great lessons and the memories are priceless! When you share the kitchen with children, cooking is even more of a pleasure.  

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