One of my husband’s favorite sayings is, “This is why I never try.” He’s always joking when he says it (well, sort of), but it does have several uses. Such as the time he tried to take E. to the movies and she was so bad. They barely lasted in the theater beyond the previews. Or, the recent trip E. and I took to the beach, despite slightly overcast weather. We both ended up with sunburns, had to keep dodging jellyfish all day and she may be permanently scarred for life (emotionally only) by the seaweed that wrapped around her ankle like some sort of angry sea monster. (Seriously, she wakes up some nights still, telling me she’s scared of the seaweed).
But usually the saying is reserved for my attempts to get E. to eat better. She loves to help cook lately, so I’ve gone through every cookbook from “Deceptively Delicious” to Williams-Sonoma’s “Cooking for Baby,” all in an effort to get her excited about eating good foods. We’ve made pumpkin pancakes, zucchini cupcakes, carrot and pineapple muffins (from one of my favorites, Weelicious), grilled cheese with sweet potato puree, lemon chicken kabobs, etc., and all have been greeted with lukewarm enthusiasm.
If she had it her way, she’d eat peanut butter and jelly 24/7. But still I keep trying.
This weekend, we were going over to our friends’ house for dinner, so I thought it was a good excuse to get her involved again. I knew we’d be dining with our little buddy K., who has the world’s best palette for a 2-year-old. He’ll eat ANYTHING — spicy curries, shrimp stir fry, okra, etc. I thought he’d be a good influence on E.
First, I made Baked Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower from this recipe I found on Carrots ‘N’ Cake’s website. All went well and it looked and smelled delicious:
Then, it was time to get E. involved with baking. I also found this recipe for chocolate-pumpkin loaf on Carrots ‘N’ Cake (I like sticking with what’s working). It looked pretty straight-forward: just dump a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, then transfer to a loaf pan and bake. Simple enough, right? What I forgot to account for was that I was cooking with a 2-year-old.
When we cook, I measure the ingredients and she dumps them into a bowl. You can imagine how this quickly becomes a juggling act. For this recipe, I first set all the ingredients out on the counter. Then, I had the laptop open on the kitchen table and E set up on the counter with a mixing bowl. I kept running back and forth across the kitchen, getting my measurements ingredient by ingredient.
All seemed to go well and we got the loaf into the oven. About 10 minutes later, I started putting all the stuff away. Brown sugar? Check. Nutmeg and cinnamon? Check. Backing powder? Check. Baking soda? Baking soda? CRAP!! I suddenly realized I had forgotten to add the baking soda.
I ran to Betty Google and all the results told me I was doomed — it was destined to not rise and to be a hot, dense mess. Twitter was no help either. Then, I found one Google result where a girl said she’d done the same thing and just added the baking soda to her still not-fully-cooked loaf and it turned out OK. I figured, what did I have to lose?
I pulled the loaf out of the oven, sprinkled the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda over the middle of the loaf and started stirring. I knew it was too late for the four sides, they were already partially baked and firm. But the center was still gooey and had a batter consistency. I stirred it all up and hoped for the best.
It actually came out looking pretty good, well at least the center of the loaf did.
The center was definitely higher than the sides. The taste was a mixed bag. The chocolate parts (especially where the chocolate chips baked) were still fairly moist, but the pumpkin parts were pretty dry. It wasn’t a total failure, but close enough.
I know that I will keep trying, but it’s times like that that I think my husband is on to something.