It isn’t easy to stand by and watch while your seven-year-old cracks eggs that land on the floor (it only happened once!) or spills too much oil into the batter (we effectively bailed the excess out) or awkwardly flips runny pancake batter on a crappy little electric stove top where not just the heating elements but the whole top gets hot. And I don’t pretend that I don’t have sharp words for lapses of care. I get nervous, you see.
But my little guy likes cooking with me (“Are you sure? ‘Cause I yell at you sometimes.” “Yes I’m sure. I love it!”) and I love cooking with him. And as he gets handier and can read, I am increasingly letting him do more of the risky stuff. Like reading the recipe himself and measuring out ingredients and –yes — flipping pancakes on a hot stove.
It can be nerve-wracking, but the results are worth it. I am not talking about the culinary results, although his pancakes turned out delicious, as does his French toast. I’m talking about reading and following instructions and measuring and thinking about how baking soda and baking powder work, having responsibilities and having to be focused and careful. I am happy when he takes a step in the direction of independence, but it is nothing compared to his own pleasure at becoming so competent. “I did it! I flipped it!” and “I made delicious pancakes practically all by myself!” are the seasonings that make everything taste better when you are seven. And sometimes when you are a lot older too!
These pancakes are slightly modified from Kids Cook by Sarah Williamson & Zachary Williamson, a terrific starter book that he got from his godmother. My important advice in cooking with kids is get all the ingredients and tools organized first. The less turning your back to get something that you do during the proceedings, the better. Click for recipe
1 Cup buttermilk
2 Tbs oil
½ Cup whole wheat flour
½ Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ Cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2-3 Tbs butter
Mix the egg, buttermilk and oil together in a large bowl.
Add all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) to the bowl and stir until mixed. A bit of lumpiness is fine.
Fold in the blueberries.
Heat a couple of Tbs of the butter on a griddle or skillet until bubbling, but not turning brown or smoking.
Place Tbs of batter on the griddle. Keep them small and widely spaced so little hands have plenty of flipping room. When bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom is browning, flip the pancakes with a spatula. Be prepared for the first ones to be a mess. It takes a while to get good at this! Fortunately the pancakes taste great even when they look like a little kid made them. Serve with fruit, topped with butter, maple syrup, or whatever you like!