"How to lose your sanity in one hour or less."
A while ago I became a Den leader for Aaron's Cub Scout group. Today it was my turn to arrange an activity for these 9 year old boys.
I looked through all of the activities in the scout book and after a discussion with the other leader, decided that the boys would learn about cooking by fulfilling one of the requirements, "Bake cookies with an adult"
We decided that due to time constraints, we would just have the boys mix up the dough, then we would send it home with them and have their parents help them bake the cookies.
I gathered all of the ingredients and equipment that we would need and went over to the church for Pack meeting.
When we went into the kitchen, the boys were quite excited about making cookies. The first thing they all did was to hop up and sit on the counter.
"Ummm, hey guys, do you remember our first rule about cooking in the kitchen?" I asked.
They all jumped off the counter while discussing amongst themselves the "no butt germs on the food preparation surfaces" lecture that we went through the last time we had a food related activity.
Then I ask, "What's the first thing we need to do before making cookies?"
They all stare at me blankly.
Finally, Aaron suggests that they wash their hands. (That's my boy!)
So we wait while 5 very energetic little boys wash their hands at the sink.
At this point I need to mention how noisy 5 nine year old boys can be, and also the fact that the acoustics in this kitchen amplify the sound to about 5 times it's original level.
Plus, there's a bit of an echo.
As we are cooking, I try to include some useful bits of cooking information.
Me: OK guys, all of you will get a chance to help measure and stir up the ingredients. Now, what's the first thing we need to do before mixing up the cookies?"
Aaron: "We already washed our hands."
Me: "OK, so what do we do next?" I ask while holding up the recipe for them to see.
Connor: (opening the door to go outside) "Hey, can we get some fresh air?"
Me:" NO. No fresh air, we're here to make cookies, what's the first thing we need to do?"
Scott: "Do we need to bake them or can we just eat the dough?"
Me: "You have to take them home and bake them. The dough will have raw eggs in it, and you shouldn't eat raw eggs, remember, we talked about that a few weeks ago?"
Mitchell: "Why can't we eat raw eggs?"
Connor: "Because if you eat raw eggs they will make you sick."
Aaron: "Rocky ate a whole glass of raw eggs and I didn't see him get sick in the movie."
All boys in unison: "EWWWWWW!!!"
Brandon: "Why did he eat raw eggs?"
Aaron: "I don't know, but it was really gross I think he......."
Me: "Hey guys, COOKIES remember, we're here to make cookies. Now, does anyone know how to measure brown sugar?"
Aaron: "I know how! You pack it in really tight."
Then Aaron proceeded to measure a cup of brown sugar. Packed.
Scott: "Hey, it's my turn, I want to do the next one!"
Scott takes a teaspoon and starts to scoop small spoonfuls of brown sugar into the measuring cup, packing each one down as he goes.
Me: "Scott, just stick the measuring cup in the bag and scoop out a bunch."
Scott scoops out a little bit, then packs it down with the spoon, he scoops out another small amount then packs that down with a spoon.
I see that this will take a while, so I move on.
Me: "OK guys, what's the next ingredient?"
Mitchell: "White sugar. Can I measure that?"
I tell him yes, then hand him the ziplock bag holding a cup of sugar. Mitchell starts to dump the sugar in the general direction of the measuring cup. I grab his arm and help him just before he dumps most of it on the counter.
Scott is still measuring the brown sugar. Scoop and pack. Scoop and pack. Scoop and pack.....
Me: "Let's move on to the butter!" I pick up the box of butter and realize that even though I had let it sit out for several hours, it wasn't softened enough. No problem, we have a microwave! I tell the boys to unwrap the four cubes (yes, 4 cubes, this is an awesome recipe) of butter (yes! REAL butter. As if you would use any other kind)
I tell Aaron to put it in a measuring cup and nuke it for 12 seconds. It comes out perfectly softened, and Aaron dumps it in the bowl with the sugar.
The boys all get really into the whole melting butter in the microwave thing.
Connor: "Can I melt the next one?"
Brandon: "I want to melt some!"
Me: "You can each melt one."
Connor: "How long do I melt it for?"
Me: "12 seconds."
Scott finally finishes the brown sugar.
Brandon: "How long do I melt the butter for?"
Me: "12 seconds."
Scott: "I want to melt some butter!"
Me: "You can melt the next one." and I hand him a cube of butter.
Connor and Brandon both dump their perfectly softened cubes of butter out of the measuring cup and into the sugar.
Scott: "How long do I microwave this?"
Me "12 seconds."
Scott: "Do I just put it in like this?"
I look over to see Scott ready to put his unwrapped cube of butter directly in the microwave.
Me: "No, please put it in the measuring cup!"
I look back to the bowl to see Mitchell standing there, holding the hand mixer, ready to attack the contents of the bowl.
Mitchell: "Can I mix it together now?"
Me: "What does the recipe say?"
Brandon: "It says we need eggs."
Me: "No, look at the instructions, not the list of ingredients."
The boys all read together "Cream together butter and sugars."
Me: "Does anyone know what that means?"
Brandon: (looking in the bowl) "How many of those butters did you put in there?"
Brandon: "I really don't like butter that much."
Me: "We'll be putting more stuff in it than butter, you'll hardly notice it."
Brandon: "That's a lot of butter. I don't like that much butter!"
Mitchell: "Can I mix it now?"
Connor: "I want to use the mixer too!"
Me: "Everyone will get a chance to use the mixer."
Scott dumps his newly softened cube of butter in the bowl. Before I knew what was happening, he turned on the mixer and put it just deep enough in the bowl to send chunks of softened butter everywhere.
Me: (grabbing the mixer and turning it off) "Hey guys, what is the first rule of using a mixer?"
Mitchell: "You need to keep it in the bottom of the bowl so all the stuff doesn't go flying out."
Me:" Good, now can somebody please get a paper towel and wipe up the butter?"
I then notice the 4 butter wrappers laying face down on the counter.
Mitchell takes the mixer and starts mixing up the butter and sugar. After a minute, he hands it to Scott.
All of the boys are leaning over the big bowl, watching the butter and sugar being mixed together.
Connor: "Hey, this stinks! It smells like fire!"
The other boys: "Yeah, that does smell like fire!"
I realized that I hadn't used this mixer for a while, and I think the dough was making the motor work a little over it's capacity, thus the burning smell. I turn off the mixer.
Connor: "Hey, I wanted a turn!"
Me: "We need 4 eggs. Who wants to crack an egg?'
Scott grabbed an egg and started to gently tap it on the edge of the bowl. It made a small hole and he tried to shake the yolk out of the hole.
Me: " Scott, put your thumbs in it and break it apart."
He pokes his thumbs in the egg and starts to pull the shell apart, only he has moved it away from the bowl and is dangerously close to dumping the egg innards on the counter.
ME: "Scott, in the bowl....IN the bowl!"
Scott moves the egg back over the bowl, and miraculously is able to get the egg into the bowl without any shells.
I am amazed.
The other boys cracked their eggs on the counter and on other eggs, and we managed to get them in the bowl with only minimum mess on the counter.
Scott: "Now we need vanilla!"
Aaron: "Did you know that vanilla has alcohol in it?"
Brandon: "IT HAS ALCOHOL IN IT?"
Carrie: (the other Den leader who has been marking off requirements in the boys books up until this point) "Yes, Vanilla does have alcohol in it, but it cooks out."
Brandon: "But there's alcohol in it!! I think that's another reason not to eat raw cookie dough!"
Carrie: "There's really not very much vanilla in the dough. You would really have to eat a lot of raw cookie dough to get drunk from it."
At this point, I was thinking that if you ate enough cookie dough to get drunk on the vanilla, that you would have bigger problems than being drunk.
Scott: "Can't we just eat the dough? Do we have to bake it?
Carrie: "No you can't eat it, raw eggs remember?"
Brandon: "And vanilla!"
Connor: "NOW can I use the mixer?"
I look at the bowl with runny eggs in it. I do not want to see runny eggs on the wall. I do not want to see runny eggs on the floor. I do not want to see runny eggs on me.
I tell the boys that since the mixer is acting funny, I will mix in the eggs and they can stir in the flour by hand.
As I'm mixing the boys are running around the kitchen playing tag, or some other game that involves large amounts of noise and running and bumping into each other.
Me: "OK guys, there are 5 of you, and we need 5 cups of flour. Each one of you can measure one cup and stir it into the dough! Does anyone know how to measure flour?"
Aaron: "You don't pack it like you do brown sugar."
Me: "Yes, you keep it light and fluffy. Remember, light and fluffy, you scoop it into the cup lightly and don't pack it down."
Mitchell was the first to measure. He scooped some flour into the cup then tapped it onto the counter to level it out.
Me: "Hey Mitch, don't tap it down, it needs to stay light and fluffy, tapping it like that makes it compress and you don't get an accurate measurement."
Mitchell looks at me, nods his head in agreement then scoops more flour into the cup, then taps it on the counter.
Me: "Light and fluffy, Mitch, light and fluffy."
Mitchell: "Oh, sorry, I keep forgetting."
Mitchell then takes another scoop, dumps it in the cup and taps it on the counter, while the whole time I am saying:
"Light and fluffy, light and fluffy, lightandfluffylightandfluffyLIGHTANDFLUFFY!"
Then I gave up.
Mitchell dumped his flour in the bowl. I handed him the wooden spoon and he did a fine job of stirring the flour into the mixture.
Meanwhile Connor is measuring his flour. He lightly lifts the fluffy flour into the measuring cup, then smashes it down with the scoop.
I look away.
(seriously, why do these boys not get the concept of light and fluffy?)
Connor moves on to the bowl as I'm giving the "light and fluffy" flour measuring instructions to Scott.
I look over just in time to see Connor stick the big wooden spoon in the bowl, stir a little too hard, and send flour all over the wall and counter, sticking to all the chunks of softened butter that still hadn't been cleaned up.
I take a deep breath, and let it out s l o w l y as I repeat in my head "deep cleansing breath, Jill, deep cleansing breath."
Connor grins: "Sorry, I'll be more careful."
I looked at the amount of flour that flew out of the bowl and decided that it probably equaled the extra flour we got when the boys were smashing the flour into the measuring cup instead of keeping it light and fluffy.
I decided to look at this as a good thing.
We managed to get the rest of the flour mixed in. Aaron dumped in the chocolate chips, and they all took turns stirring again.
Scott: "Hey, this looks really good. Do we have to bake it? Can we just eat the dough?"
Me: "No Scott, we shouldn't eat raw cookie dough, you could get really sick."
I take the spoon and proceed to divide the dough between 5 ziplock bags.
Scott: "Hey! I want the one with the most in it!"
Aaron: "No, I want that one!"
Mitchell: "I wanted it!"
I told them that all the bags would be the same, and as I zipped the last bag Scott asked "Can we lick the bowl?"
Me: "No Scott, it's still raw cookie dough."
Carrie: "OK guys, lets get the kitchen cleaned up, everyone helps."
We started to wash the dishes and put things away when I turned around to see Mitchell sneaking a chunk of cookie dough from what was left in the bowl. He saw me look at him and he scraped the cookie dough off of his finger and into the garbage can.
The boys started playing tag again. We could see that some of the boys parents were starting to arrive to pick up their kids. Carrie told them they needed to continue helping. I told her I could probably get it cleaned up faster if they didn't help.
We laughed and she took the boys outside to meet their parents.
After they all left, I closed the door, scraped all of the leftover cookie dough out of the bowl, and ate it.
So far, I'm still feeling OK.
And now that I think about it, Aaron didn't bake the dough that he brought home, and it's just sitting there in the refrigerator........................