Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I've come a long way...

Today marked the one year anniversary of our family's first trip to Disneyland.  One year ago today, my four children set their eyes on the Happiest Place on Earth and drank in the wonder and excitement of it all.

Today, one year later, a typically drizzly and rainy day in the Pacific Northwest, seems far from the magic of our trip.  My eldest son is home from school with a cold and all are feeling under the weather. So today, I wanted to do something to remind us of our happy memories, and for some reason the Mickey Mouse shaped soft pretzels they sell at the park came to mind.  The kids seemed enthusiastic, so we jumped into the project, finding a recipe on Food.com, after finishing our chores.

There would have been a time in my life when I could not have handled seeing the above, misshapen Mickey Mouse heads (yes - that IS what they are supposed to be) and other such blobs of dough go into my oven.   I would have wanted to control the shaping and creation of each ball of dough.  After all, a Mickey Mouse project was supposed to produce Mickey Mouse shaped pretzels, right?

Yet, if being a Mama has taught me one thing, it's that I don't know all that much.....and my ideas often aren't the best ones.  Nothing beats having my kiddos beside me in the kitchen, actually wanting to help make things.  They argue over who gets to grind the wheat berries in the blender, who gets to dump the flour into the mixer, who gets to proof the yeast, measure, pour, turn on the blender, etc. I find myself flattered that they want to be doing these things at all!  Yet....here they are, right by my side.  And, I don't really believe this is unique to my own children.  Children typically just yearn for their parents' attention and love to be included whenever possible.

If you're new to bringing your kids in the kitchen, or feel you're not a good enough cook to teach them anything....you have nothing to worry about.  It doesn't really matter what you make, so long as they get to help you in some small way.  It will take more time and likely yield a larger mess, so consider making a goal to involve them just once a week at first.  Choose a simple recipe such as soft pretzels, or simply involve them in what you already planned to make for dinner. Honestly, it won't even matter what it tastes like....odds are, if they helped make it, they'll like it!

As for the perfectly shaped Mickey Mouse pretzels?  Well, as you can see - they did turn out perfectly shaped.....just the way they were intended to be!

Happy cooking, friends!  Enjoy your family today! 

SOFT PRETZELS:
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 large egg, beaten
coarse salt, to taste

Directions:

1 Dissolve yeast in water, add salt and sugar. 
2 Blend in all the flour and knead until smooth.
3 When smooth, cut dough into small pieces and roll into ropes, and twist ropes into shapes
4 Place on Silpat or other paper-lined cookie sheet. 
5 Brush pretzels with beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse salt.
6 Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until brown.