You know how it is. You spend all afternoon making a Gingerbread House and for some inexplicable reason there is a mountain of leftover gingerbread dough. You wrap it and put it into the fridge quietly accepting the fact that it will stay there for a week or so before it takes on the texture of a cricket ball whereupon it will be flung into the bin with a dull thud.
Cooking is great for generating a feeling of wellbeing. Cooking with your children takes it to another level. Yes, they make mess and often show a lack of interest in clearing up but the impact it can have on your relationship and their confidence is quite something. Over the holidays my daughter said she wanted to make a Gingerbread House and I confess that my heart sank a little. I had visions of it being quite complex, tricky to put together and that it might well culminate in much disappointment, frustration and angst. Add to this the declaration from my youngest child that she wanted to do it on her own and I girded myself for a testing afternoon. How wrong I was. In those couple of hours that we spent bustling around a sweet smelling busy kitchen I came to a wonderful realisation. The time I have invested with her in mixing, kneading, chopping and stirring over the years has helped to develop an attitude in her that is wholly confident. When she has an idea that she wants to make something her first thought is not, “oh but I don’t know how” but rather one of trial and experimentation all rounded off with a full expectation that she will triumph. Triumph she did. This confidence and belief in oneself cannot help but seep out into other areas of our lives. The simple act of making something to eat is far far more than that. These are not just skills that will help to keep us fed as we grow older but ways of building surety in our own creativity, resilience and capabilities.
So it was without any surprise that I heard her make a remarkable suggestion for the leftover dough which I felt sure was destined for the trash. “Why don’t we make a crumble and use it as the topping?” Brilliant.
Having peeled, cored and chopped a couple of hefty Bramely apples we put them in a pan with some sugar, a scant teaspoon of ground ginger and a generous sprinkling of frozen blueberries. Left to simmer gently for ten or so minutes the crumble filling was done.